Perhaps Dismantling Democracy in Venezuela should be read not as constitutional analysis, but rather as a kind of archaeology of an entire displaced elite’s wounded sense of entitlement. Chávez has unfortunately been lucky in his opposition. Used to being treated with deference, the old guard could never reconcile itself with the legitimacy of a government that refused to even pay lip service to its predecessors. Instead, between 2002 and 2005, it happily played along with Chávez’s polarization strategy, embarking on an escalating series of adventures of questionable democratic legitimacy to try to dislodge him from power: first, the 2002 coup, then a bizarre walkout by dissident military brass, followed by a two-month long oil sector strike that cost the nation tens of billions and hugely disrupted livelihoods.
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