Among the top ten oil exporters in the world and a founding member of OPEC, Venezuela currently supplies 11 percent of U.S. crude oil imports. But when the country elected the fiery populist politician Hugo Chavez in 1998, tensions rose with this key trading partner and relations have been strained ever since.
In this concise, accessible introduction, Miguel Tinker-Salas-a native of Venezuela who has written extensively about the country-takes a broadly chronological approach to the history of Venezuela, but keeps oil and its effects on the country's politics, economy, culture, and international relations a central focus.
After an introductory section that discusses the legacy of Spanish colonialism, Tinker-Salas explores the "The Era of the Gusher," a period which began with the discovery of oil in the early 1910s, encompassed the mid-century development and nationalization of the industry, and ended with a change of government in 1989 in response to widespread protests.
Tinker-Salas also p