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Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era Paperback – March 3, 2013
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About the Author
Francisco Toro founded Caracas Chronicles in September, 2002. Born and raised in Caracas, he studied at Reed College (Portland, Oregon) and the London School of Economics. A political scientist by training, his journalistic work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Foreign Policy, the International Herald Tribune, The New Republic, and the Financial Times, among others. He's currently a consultant based in Montreal, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Juan Cristobal Nagel has co-edited Caracas Chronicles since 2004, and edited the present volume. Born and raised in Maracaibo, he graduated from Caracas' Universidad Católica, and then went to the University of Michigan for graduate work in Economics. His work on Venezuela has appeared in Foreign Policy, Americas Quarterly, Prodavinci, and El Mercurio of Chile, among others. He is currently Professor of Economics at the Universidad de los Andes in Santiago, Chile, where he lives with his wife and their three daughters. He divides his time between Chile and Venezuela.
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Top customer reviews
Chavez re-wrote Venezuela's constitution and obtained sweeping executive powers -- he controlled every tentacle of the public sphere. The price of oil, Venezuela's lifeblood, saw a multi-fold increase during his years in office. The country was his, and the slate was clean. Yet, under Chavez, inflation soared, public debt quintupled, homicide rates exploded, oil production plunged, private property was disdained, infrastructure crumbled, and media outlets were shut down. The economy is a manic-depressive loony bin of distortions.
There are mainly two positive things that can be said of him, both of which have strong caveats. First, he lowered poverty rates. While this is also true for the rest of the region -and for most emerging economies in the 21st century, for that matter-- Chavez achieved it through unsustainable handouts, rather than through genuine gains; inflation at double digits has an uncanny ability to make a people poor again.
Secondly, he was very entertaining. The world either loved him, or loved to hate him. "Blogging the Revolution," written by Francisco Toro and Juan Cristobal Nagel is a brilliant book chronicling the Chavez era. It is insightful, well-written, concise -- and above all, I found it quite entertaining. I highly recommend this read.
For me it was the intellectually satisfactory answer that the Chavismo fails to explain to their own supporters and adversaries. (Chavismo Meta-intentions)
It is a must to understand this "new way" of doing politics in Latin America. Just to give you an example, while I was reading a discussion about the judiciary system in Venezuela, CFK was trying to change the selection method of Argentina's judges...In a nutshell, she was suggesting a direct voting mechanism to elect politically impartial judges.
- The Best: The chapter entitled "The War of 2002-2004"
- The Worst: It doesn't have a proper conclusion. Although the book is composed by blog entrances, the authors owe to their readers some concluding thoughts: what they think is missing, where to look to understand further what is happening.
- The missing part: For me the discussions about the Revocatorio and the Presidential election in 2006 need a HUGE reflection about the legislative elections of 2005.
For foreigners, it gives you a clever and clear insight into this Caribbean country, putting on the table the cultural and historical issues that you may not understand about our political system and wreck all the misconceptions that mass media have put in your minds.
It's the ONLY book of its sort.
The authors have thought deeply, carefully, and clearly about Venezuela, and as analysts of a complex and fascinating era they have no rivals.
The writing is accessible, personal, original -- and more often than you might think possible of a book on this topic -- quite funny.
Warning -- once you've read this, nearly all other writing on the topic will seem hopelessly cliched and shallow.