Thursday, March 02, 2006


The Oil Wars blog reminds us of the seventeenth anniversary of the Caracazo.

The Caracazo is the name of a massacre, carried out on the orders of then President of Venezuela Carlos Andrés Pérez, in which hundreds most likely thousands died. As "Oil Wars" comments, "This vicious massacre forever changed politics and in many ways can be said to have paved the way for Chavez's rise to the presidency."

We shouldn't forget, however, that it is also the name of an insurgency, a near-spontaneous protest against neoliberal "reform," a series of riots against the IMF. A multitudinous insurrection.

Here's a question: has Chávez's Bolivarianism more in common with the insurgency or the counter-insurgency? Is chavismo a continuation and expansion of that multitudinous energy? Or does Chávez rather re-establish a social contract otherwise broken in the Caracazo, thereby re-legitimating state power? Or both, of course.

For more on this, see also my friend Juan Antonio Hernández's article, "Against the Comedy of Civil Society: Posthegemony, Media and the 2002 Coup d'Etat in Venezuela." Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 13.1 (March 2004): 137-145.

(Further links: various articles from Bitbiblioteca; "El Sacudón" by Rafael Rivas-Vasquez; "27 de febrero de 1989" from the Círculo Bolivariano 17 de marzo; "Venezuela después del Caracazo" (.pdf) by Margarita López-Maya; a personal account from priest Charles Hardy; and photos from the Agencia Bolivariana de Prensa.)

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