The President in His Labyrinth: Literature and the Construction of the Chávez Mythology
Latin American Studies Program, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
This article analyzes the complex relationship between writers and the self-mythologizing of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. The author traces Chávez's attempts to acquire cultural capital through the support of writers such as Gabriel García Márquez and Victor Hugo while confronting other notable figures, such as Mario Vargas Llosa. The author argues that emphasis on Chávez's role in manipulating the media has obscured the fact that he also has attempted to be taken seriously as a public intellectual. Using Angel Rama's concept of the "letrado" (the learned man of letters), the author argues that Chávez's relationship with public intellectuals fits within a historical continuum of using literary writing as a basis for legitimizing political power. Finally, the author contrasts the role of García Márquez with that of two other Boom figures, Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes, who have been vehement in their criticism of the Venezuelan president.
Hegemony, Socialism, Literature, Cultural capital, Boom, Magical realism, New Left, Hugo Chavez