I feel a sort of kinship with Venezuela in a way. All that a Venezuelan needs to do while abroad is just turn on a television and news of Venezuela, its politicians, and its political atmosphere will appear on the screen. Likewise, as a South Carolinian, I find the news of my state covered constantly on national websites and television. (Who can forget the Argentinian mistress of Gov. Mark Sanford, the unemployed senatorial candidate Alvin Greene, the surprising win of Newt Gingrich in the 2012 Republican primaries, the surprising (historical) win of Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries, the refusal of the Obama stimulus money, the Confederate flag at the state Capitol, or the racially-prejudiced backlash against current Gov. Nikki Haley?) In short, something news-worthy is always being said or done in South Carolina. And it is likewise in Venezuela.
Being back in Europe, I am taking the opportunity to travel when I can to reunite with friends. One such friend is a Venezuelan economist, who has experience in the government and political atmospheres of Venezuela. Due to the fact that I have access to an expert, I decided to take a break from Asia to gain a better understanding of Venezuela, its current situation, and the difficult road it faces in the future.
Venezuela is one of those countries that has been on my radar for many years and so, needless to say, I did not need to start from scratch. I studied Diego Luzuriaga’s opera, Manuela y Bolívar, and subsequently had a basic knowledge of its revolutionary history and independence from Spain. Of course, I had watched several documentaries on Chávez and listened to several of his interviews through the car radio while in the process of bettering my Spanish. Also as a musician, I had read a good deal about El sistema, the popular and successful education program that promotes classical music literacy and appreciation among Venezuelan children of all socio-economic levels. Of course, I knew that this knowledge could only get me so far and subsequently chose four books to read in order to provide me with a better understanding of this complex country: