Hugo! The Hugo Chávez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution by Bart Jones - review by Giles FitzHerbert

Giles FitzHerbert

Why Don’t You Shut Up

Hugo! The Hugo Chávez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution


Bodley Head 608pp £12.99

This large book provides all the information that one could wish for about only the second Venezuelan in history to have become (sort of) a world figure, the first being Simón Bolívar, guide and inspiration to Hugo Chávez. It also explains the background to the exasperation of King Juan Carlos who publicly told Chávez to 'shut up' at a meeting of Latin American and Iberian leaders in Chile at the end of 2007. This royal rebuke quickly found its way on to the T-shirts and mobile phone ringtones of the embattled Venezuelan middle class and perhaps contributed a little to the failure of Chávez to win a referendum a few weeks later in which he sought to remove the constitution's provision limiting presidents to two six-year terms. Exasperation, however, is too weak a word to describe the feelings of those in Venezuela opposed to Chávez, whom he calls 'squealing pigs' and 'rancid oligarchs' (usually described by Bart Jones as living in 'gated mansions'). The referendum victory by the squealing pigs was described by Chávez in his colourful way as 'una victoria de mierda' (no translation needed).

This is not the first time that Venezuela's politics have left something to be desired. By Jones's count no fewer than twenty-six major insurrections and 730 battles were fought between the time of Bolívar and the end of the nineteenth century. After that the history of Venezuela became bound up

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