The Venezuelan people reelected Nicolás Maduro for a second presidential term on May 20. A US-backed political tide of reaction had been bucked, which had swept away previously left-leaning Latin American governments – often by extra-parliamentary means – in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Honduras, and even Ecuador.
The US and the rightwing opposition in Venezuela had demanded an election boycott and Maduro’s resignation. Defying them, the popular classes voted as a form of resistance in what they proudly told us was a “celebration of democracy.” Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution was again affirmed as was Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro.
Hugo Chávez was first elected in 1998 and died in office in 2013. Many Venezuelans grieved deeply and personally; some rejoiced; no one was untouched. Chávez had spearheaded a movement that turned Venezuela from an epigone of Washington to an independent force opposing US global hegemony. The Bolivarian Revolution reclaimed Venezuela’s history and forged a new national identity that no longer looked to Miami for affirmation.
Venezuelan society became more inclusive for poor women, people of color, and youth. As Greg Grandin observed, this inclusiveness has awakened “a deep fear of the primal hatred, racism, and fury of the opposition, which for now is directed at the agents of Maduro’s state but really springs from Chávez’s expansion of the…