The inside story of Hugo Chavez’s rule and complex legacy
Few leaders in our time have been as divisive and enigmatic as the late Hugo Chavez. In Comandante, acclaimed journalist Rory Carroll tells the inside story of Chavez’s life, his time as Venezuela’s president, and his legacy. Based on interviews with ministers, aides, courtiers, and citizens, this intimate piece of reportage chronicles a unique experiment in power that veers among enlightenment, tyranny, comedy, and farce. Carroll also investigates the almost religious devotion of millions of Venezuelans who regarded Chavez as a savior and the loathing of those who branded him as a dictator. In beautiful prose that blends the lyricism and strangeness of magical realism with the brutal, ugly truth of authoritarianism, Comandante offers a cautionary tale for our times.
A democratically elected despot; a revolutionary whose main priority is winning campaigns; a showboating clown; a feared tyrant. Venezuelan president Hugo Ch vez, soon to enter his 13th year of rule, is a mass of contradictions. In this incisive portrait of a histrionic ruler who brooks little criticism, Carroll, the Guardian s Latin American bureau chief, captures the tragic absurdity of life in a country flush with petrodollars but where many go without adequate health care, and where Out of Order signs are switched out for ones promising Socialist Modernization as broken-down elevators languish. The book starts with a closeup look at the comandante himself, then successively pulls back the lens on the sycophants who serve as his ministers and advisers, then on the decaying society outside the presidential palace. Ch vez runs the country on whims, one week expropriating famed jewelry stores because they stand on the square where Sim n de Bol var was born, another week enthusiastically launching a public health program only to let it flounder. And all this on national TV, where the president s show Hello, President can run up to eight hours each day. Meanwhile, disastrous economic policies have left the country mired in inflation and shortages, with a creaking infrastructure and shuttered factories. Readers who know Ch vez mainly for his anti-U.S. bluster will find some surprises in the true-life black comedy surrounding this mercurial leader.
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Comandante - enlightening but very disturbing.
I am from the Caribbean. I witnessed the Kennedy missile crisis with Cuba in 1959/60 and have followed Fidel Castro's management of Cuba almost from the day he came to power. Poor fellow had no oil money and lived on Russia's charity.
Chavez arrived on the Venezuelan scene like whirling dervish with billions and until I read Carroll's book I was almost entirely ignorant of what has been going in Venezuela these past years. Castro the wily fox played Chavez well. Eventually sending 20,000 Cubans to help administer Venezuela. All foreign to me.
To those interested in Venezuela these past 15 years, Chavez and Castro's association and what may be the outcome, I think this book is very en lightening, but worry some for many Caribbean political leaders who have become buddies of Fidel... He is a right snake in the grass, and worse, a clever one.
The ex-bus driving President is an unknown quantity but reputedly does not have Chavez' smarts. We may well be for Comandante II in a year or two.
It's a pretty educational read about one of our Era's most controversial political figures. Read it! :)
A Must Read!!
Rory did a fantastic job of capturing the life and ways of Chavez as the ruler of Venezuela. Exposing the thoughts and emotions of the Venezuelans from gang members to high ranking officials. Journalism at it's best. Jaw dropping at times...