Early works on the political rise of Hugo Chávez from military conspirator to charismatic leader on a continental scale focused on the collapse of Venezuela's representative democracy amid deteriorating social and economic conditions. After Chávez became president, researchers tended to stress the demographics of his social base and the class and ethnic connections between the charismatic leader and his followers. The underlying assumption seemed to be that Chávez had crystallized their insurgency against the Punto Fijo regime and their demand for social and economic inclusion.

Lately, some leftist scholars have moved away from portraying the chavistas as a following and instead have begun to emphasize Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution as the product of the constituent power of Venezuela's people. Early in We Created Chávez, George Ciccariello-Maher asks us to avert “our eyes from the dazzling brilliance of the commanding heights...

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