I googled an old college friend from Venezuela last night. His name appeared on a list of counter-revolutionaries. That's not a big surprise, because although he was very liberal, his family was part of the oligarchy. His father held an important post in the state security police force until he had a falling out with the President in the Eighties. Then things became tough for the family as the father's old bureaucratic enemies turned a blind eye to the looting of the family's property.
I lost track of him about ten years ago, but it's possible given the nature of oligarchies, that my friend sided with those who opposed Chavez, even if many of them were rightists and the very people who disgraced his family. Class is very important in Latin America.
I don't know as much as I should about Venezuelan society and politics. As my remarks above suggest, I believe it's as stratified in terms of class as Mexico and the Central American countries. I could be wrong.
Given this bias on my part, I've been inclined to support Chavez as a defender of the poor and disenfranchised. I've doubted much of what has been printed about him, because it's the same rhetoric I've heard from the oligarchs in San Salvador, Managua, and Mexico City. The fact that Otto Reich despises him also suggests that he might be someone we should embrace.
However, after seeing my friend's name on a list of counter revolutionaries, and, indeed, learning that such lists exist, I'm beginning to wonder about Chavez. It's time I learned more about Venezuela. I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have in regard to articles and books on the subject.
Update: Upon further research, I found that my friend is a major Chavez backer. The list was put out by the opposition because he holds an influential position in the State oil company. They're angry with him because of his actions during the company's shut down after the attempted coup. It's interesting to see the oligarchy brand its enemies as being counter-revolutionaries.