In this timely and urgent study, Timothy Gill exposes the latest sordid chapter in the shameful history of US intervention in Latin America. He untangles the labyrinth of programs and organizations that the United States has assembled, under the banner of ‘promoting democracy,’ to undermine the effort by the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela to construct a democracy that would actually empower the broad masses. This is a must-read for students of Latin American and international politics and US foreign policy. Encountering US Empire in Socialist Venezuela will also be of great interest to all those concerned with building a more just and equitable international order.
Since the end of World War II, the United States has come to dominate the world economically and politically, leading many to describe the United States as an empire. Scholars have analyzed how the US government has worked through international financial institutions, its Central Intelligence Agency, and outright warfare to achieve its will. In this book, Timothy M. Gill spotlights how the US government also worked through democracy promotion to undermine governments abroad, including in Venezuela. President Hugo Chávez, who ruled from 1999 until his death in 2013, was among the democratically elected Latin American state leaders who embraced socialism and challenged the idea of US global power. Gill shows how US government agencies funded and trained opposition parties and activists, and how such intervention often was justified in neocolonial and racist terms. Through analysis of documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, embassy cables, and interviews with US government and Venezuelan nonprofit members, Gill details such operations and the imperial thinking behind them.
No other work brings into such sharp focus how the United States shaped Chávez’s context. Gill exposes how the US promoted not democracy but an opposition with antidemocratic, racist proclivities. He deftly reveals how US contractors, advisors, and diplomats viewed Chávez, Chavistas, and the opposition as unfit, duped, and dependent on US tutelage. We need this book to understand Venezuela today.
The United States has long promoted itself as a defender of democracy. In this fine study, Gill gives the lie to this view and shows how US democracy assistance programs were used to undermine rather than strengthen democracy in Chávez-era Venezuela. Using diplomatic cables and interviews, Gill deftly shows how nineteenth-century racism takes on new modalities in Washington’s twenty-first-century empire.