Venezuela, the Present as Struggle: Voices from the Bolivarian Revolution

REVIEWS, 2 Nov 2020

Cira Gilbert and Chris Pascual Marquina | Monthly Review - TRANSCEND Media Service

Venezuela, the Present as Struggle: Voices from the Bolivarian Revolution by and October 2020, 376 pp.

Venezuela has been the stuff of frontpage news extravaganzas, especially since the death of Hugo Chávez. With predictable bias, mainstream media focus on violent clashes between opposition and government, coup attempts, hyperinflation, U.S. sanctions, and massive emigration. What is less known, however, is the story of what the Venezuelan people—especially the Chavista masses—do and think in these times of social emergency. Denying us their stories comes at a high price to people everywhere, because the Chavista bases are the real motors of the Bolivarian revolution. This revolutionary grassroots movement still aspires to the communal path to socialism that Chávez refined in his last years. Venezuela, the Present as Struggle is an eloquent testament to their lives.

Comprised of a series of compelling interviews conducted by Cira Pascual Marquina, professor at the Bolivarian University, and contextualized by author Chris Gilbert, the book seeks to open a window on grassroots Chavismo itself in the wake of Chávez’s death. Feminist and housing activists, communards, organic intellectuals, and campesinos from around the country speak up in their own voices, defending the socialist project and pointing to what they see as revolutionary solutions to Venezuela’s current crisis. If the Venezuelan government has shown an impressive capacity to resist imperialism, it is the Chavista grassroots movement, as this book shows, that actually defends socialism as the only coherent project of national liberation.

“Today more than ever, we need to listen to critical voices from the Venezuelan grassroots, and this is exactly what Venezuela, the Present as Struggle gives us. Cira Pascual Marquina and Chris Gilbert have gathered the tools we need to navigate the treacherous straits between state and movements, economic crisis and sanctions, and to chart a radical course toward socialism.”

—George Ciccariello-Maher, author, Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela

“If you’ve wondered what remains of the Bolivarian Revolution, then Venezuela, the Present as Struggle is the book you must read. Bringing together 36 conversations with protagonists primarily from the base, Cira Pascual Marquina and Chris Gilbert demonstrate that the seeds that Chávez planted fell upon fertile soil and that, in Gilbert’s words, ‘the socialist and radically transformative project of Chavismo … lives on in the masses, in their thought and action.’”

—Michael A. Lebowitz, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Simon Fraser University, Canada; author, The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now

“It is practically impossible to understand what is happening in Bolivarian Venezuela without listening to the thoughts and proposals of those directly involved in the political struggle, whether in the countryside or in the city. This book by Cira Pascual Marquina and Chris Gilbert offers a broad view from that perspective. Here the Bolivarian Revolution is portrayed in its complexity and singularity. For this reason, Venezuela, the Present as Struggle is one of those works that is worth reading carefully.”

—Reinaldo Iturriza, author, El Chavismo salvaje and Por una política caribe

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Cira Pascual Marquina is Political Science professor at the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela in Caracas and a writer and editor for Venezuelanalysis.com.

Chris Gilbert teaches Marxist political economy at the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela. His articles have appeared in Rebelión, LaHaine, Monthly Review, and CounterPunch.

Gilbert and Pascual Marquina are creators of the Marxist educational program Escuela de Cuadros, broadcast on Venezuelan public television.

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