Sunday, 11 January 2009

Understanding Venezuela through the United States

This book is not about Venezuela, it is about one of Venezuela's big neighbours . Still, if you want to understand a little bit about Venezuela, it would not hurt to read this. The United States has been influencing one way or the other the rest of the Americas ever since it became an independent nation. Howard Zinn presents different views about how it came to be and how it has acted ever since.

Unfortunately, in Venezuela we tend to have a lot of people who are either extremely sympathetic with everything that comes from the USA, in every aspect, without any nuance, without any critical view, or completely against anything coming from there (or pretending to be).

This book helps us a new understanding of the history of a country with many of the best universities in the world as well as one of the worst results for OECD countries in the PISA programme, a country with many Nobel prizes and where over half the population still are creationists, a country where many a European capitalist would be considered a Marxist (never mind most US citizens really have no idea about what Marxism is).

This book, combined with this book and this one, present some interesting ideas about why Venezuela, Europe and the US have developed (or not) in the way they have and why the people in those respective regions think the way they do.

I haven't read much decent on history of Venezuela in English so far and very little of it in Spanish. You can read some interesting things about what we had in Venezuela in 1789-1810 from Alexander von Humboldt's writings:
1 (look for "printing") and 2. A programme from BBC on Humboldt here.
I will point at other works in the future.

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