What is happening in Venezuela today? The start of a new year is always a good time to bring new thinking to seemingly intractable situations, and there are few situations more confusing to the North American progressive community than this basic query about the radical South American state. Is it a revolutionary government worthy of support, facing covert or overt intervention from the CIA and other shadowy parts of the U.S. empire? Or is it a reactionary, oil-dependent country which has lost its way since the early days of President Hugo Chavez, when grassroots people were encouraged and empowered to organize for their self-sufficiency and self-determination? Protests critical of current President Nicolas Maduro, sometimes sizable, seem to indicate the latter.
But the truth is more nuanced than most U.S. analysts, even of the left, can easily comprehend, as I learned during a recent trip to Venezuela. Our failure to understand Venezuela today has everything to do with our inability to properly understand contemporary revolution.