Los Angeles to Caracas: Examining Neo-liberal Policies Leading Toward Rebellion

Between 1989 and 1992 both Los Angeles and Caracas, two of the largest cities in the United States and Venezuela, experienced intense rioting followed by intense government repression. Today, in regards to politics and economics, both nations are heading in very different directions.

By Aashiq Thawerbhoy
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Between 1989 and 1992 both Los Angeles and Caracas, two of the largest cities in the United States and Venezuela, experienced intense rioting followed by intense government repression. On the streets of Caracas, scores of Venezuela's most impoverished citizens poured out of their barrios in the surrounding hills and descended into the city center looting stores for food and other necessities, and burning busses. In Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict was released to the public, poverty stricken African American and later Latin American communities started fires, ransacked businesses and engaged in standoffs with the L.A.P.D. (though it was presumed that by the end, poor people of all ethnic backgrounds had joined in). In both instances the government called on army and National Guard troops to squelch out the uprisings. In South Central, Watts and Compton government troops paraded through neighborhoods and business districts imposing a mandatory curfew in an Orwellian spectacle of new world order. In Caracas, the military acted as death squads as they filed into the barrios, often fi ring at anything that moved, emulating an all too familiar aspect of human history. An estimated 3,500 Venezuelans were discovered either dead on the streets or buried in mass graves, though twenty years later the real number is still unknown. The U.S. media unjustly labeled what happened in Los Angeles as merely a ‘race riot', while the people of Venezuela labeled their uprising the Caracazo or, the "Caracas explosion."

Today, in regards to politics and economics, both nations are heading in very different directions. It is common knowledge that the events of 1989 in Venezuela were a catalyst for the Socialist changes being implemented by President Hugo Chavez and various coalitions of popular power within the country. Here in the United States, the riots of Los Angeles, rightfully coined as the ‘justice riots' by Edward Soja, are still widely understood as a race riot and nothing more. However, if we look at the advancements and changes that have taken place in Venezuela since the Caracazo, and the policies that led up to such an event, we can draw similar parallels to the Los Angeles riots, and begin to question where we are at today. The following is an attempt to link the neo-liberal economic policies of the 1980's to a trend of uprisings, focusing specifically on Los Angeles and Caracas. The analysis shows the effects of the Reagan years on the working class poor in the United States, and the extent to which similar if the not the same neo-liberal policies have transcended onto a smaller resource rich nation such as Venezuela and its poor and oppressed. During this process, the focus shifts back and forth between both countries, and once the historical context is set, I will begin to discuss the political and economic commonalities and aftermath of both events.

Phony Nationalization, Industrial Decline and Failed (Welfare) States

When examining the downfall of working class poor communities leading up to both rebellions, it is important to look at the gains and losses of working class and poor persons both before the neo-liberal era and during its beginning. In the United States this included social spending brought about by legislation and grassroots social movements (i.e. the civil rights and anti-poverty movements) in the 1960's leading to reforms in the 1970's. In Los Angeles this was also a time of industrial decline. As for Venezuela, the 1970's were a time of ‘nationalization' (the reality of which will be discussed later), though leading to similar trends in slow growth and stagnation (at least in free market terms) that became an excuse for the dismantling of the welfare state in the United States. The introduction of neo-liberal policies in regards to the Los Angeles' job/welfare situation and Venezuela's ‘nationalization' process would lead both places into working class turmoil.

United States/ Los Angeles: Social Welfare & Industry

In the United States during the 1970's, the poor and elderly had been benefiting from Medicaid and Medicare under the Social Security act of 1965. As an extension of FDR's 1935 New Deal welfare state, this act would go on to be amended several times. However, it is imperative to know that money going towards poverty "never exceeded 2.5% of all social welfare spending". Despite this, the poverty statistics of 1964-74 show a reduction in poverty from 17.4% to 9.9%.[1] Contrary to the beliefs of the neo-liberal president, Ronald Reagan, social spending took up very little of government money in comparison to the results. Other legislation during this time period such as the Economic Opportunity Act further expanded the benefits for impoverished peoples in the United States. Another program proposed (that was eventually botched by congress) during this time was the Family Assistance Plan, "a proposal of a guaranteed annual income."[2] Though it cannot be said that these programs were perfect by any means, the very idea that social spending on the poor existed at such a large scale is enough to argue against its decline under Regan. This trend in spending would more or less continue throughout the administration of Jimmy Carter before Ronald Reagan and his team stepped in to dismantle it.

Subsequently, in the wake of this increase in welfare spending, the industrial centers of Los Angeles had already begun their decline (though Los Angeles would maintain some semblance of an industrial metropolis until the late 80's). Mike Davis points out the closing of "321 [industrial] firms since 1971,"[3] though most of these were lost in an accelerated closing process between 1978 and ‘82. It is for this reason that we can mark the end of the 70's as the beginning of neoliberalism, attributing the rapid industrial decline to the penetration of Asian imports into the U.S. Knowing this, it is not surprising that many low income families in black communities that once had jobs were taking advantage of government social services by the turn of the decade.

Venezuela: National Oil+Crisis=National Debt

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, President Carlos Andres Perez was becoming popular with the public during his first term in office. His economic plan, formerly called "La Gran Venezuela", was concocted to "sow the oil" through a combination of "fighting poverty via price controls and income increases" and the diversification of the economy "via import substitution."[4] Along with the nationalization of the iron industry, Venezuela's oil reserves through the creation of the national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) in 1976, were supposed to fund this plan with hopes of turning Venezuela into a developed nation. Wilpert argues that the form of nationalization was not nationalization at all, stating that the oil industry "continued to be run by the same management under the same goals and principles as it did before it was nationalized" maintaining an "anti-statist and transnational corporatist management."[5] The sentiment not to "play ball" with the government was reflected in PDVSA's focus on production and sales, instead of profits to be allocated towards state plans. The development plan proved unsustainable, and Venezuela remained solely an oil exporting country.

Perez's plan may have been seen as great balance of government intervention into the market place. It is noted that oil, during and after Perez's first term, was supporting "government subsidies, price controls, exchange rate losses, and the operations of more than 400 public institutions."[6] The trend in government spending continued with the next president, Luis Campins (1979-84), though it was seen as completely inefficient during the 1983 oil crisis, when the price dropped, and the trend in high spending led to an increased national debt. Jaime Lusinchi stepped in as president in 1984 with a plan to reverse the effects of the 1983 oil crisis, and the negative GDP growth that came with it. By imposing "devaluations of currency" and "a multi-tier exchange rate system" to protect imports, as well as "increased attention to agriculture and food self-sufficiency,"[7] the state-intervened economy was able to sustain itself for another period of time through currency exchange control. The overall goal of paying back the nation's debt by stimulating growth fell again with the price of oil in 1986. The price dropped by 50% and the inability to turn high revenues off of oil, as well as the need to import due to a lack in development of other industries created a twin deficit for Venezuela. The people of Venezuela invited Carlos Andres Perez back as president, however this time he had a different plan that did not include nationalization.

Reagan: Spending Cuts and Industrial Endgame in L.A.

Looking back to the United States in 1981, Ronald Reagan had developed an economic plan of his own. In the years to come, his promises of stimulated growth in the economy would turn out to be at the expense of working class peoples. In Los Angeles this meant Black and Latino communities that had already suffered immense job-losses. Shaped by supply side economics (popularly known as trickle-down economics), Reagan's economic policies included income tax cuts as well as extreme social spending cuts. These policies were said to reduce the double-digit inflation rates the U.S. economy had been suffering from at the time. These cuts, as will be discussed, greatly affected the economic well being of the working class poor. In Los Angeles, the effects of these policies were felt in the impoverished communities that were still continuing to lose what remnants of industry they had in their parts of the city. Working class poor communities suffered from the lack of government intervention while the job market declined to nothing.

The basic idea behind Regan's supply side economy was that if taxes were cut, especially for the wealthy, the rate of investments would rise. It is important to note that by 1980 the inflation rate of the dollar was climbing past 14%,[8] and there was a notion that the way out of it was higher production to drive prices down. Frank Ackerman, author of Reganomics points out that the goal of tax cuts is so "workers will work more" because the money saved by the wealthy on income taxes will cause "investors to invest more", thus raising production.[9] However the reality of the tax cuts do little justice to the working class poor's annual incomes as a 23% tax cut (as imposed by Reagan) will save $4,140 for a family with an income of $60,000 a year, but only $460 for an average family making $20,000 dollar a year.[10] The money saved by wealthy CEOs must have been absurd.

Further effects of tax cuts on working class Black and Latino communities can only be assessed by examining the counterpart of the tax-cuts for the rich: welfare cuts for the poor. Though social spending on the elderly, such as social security, was safe, the social programs for the poor were under attack by the Reagan administration. As reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) dropped by 11.2% by 1988, while the food stamp program lost 5% of its budget. There is a connection between the small amounts of money saved by low income families through tax cuts (though often this meant more money spent) to the amount not received through social programs. These cuts obviously affect those living in poverty in all cities, but perhaps the spending cut that put Los Angeles over the edge was the 54.9% decrease in unemployment compensation.[11] This cut couldn't imply that there was less unemployment; Los Angeles was still in the midst of industrial decline.

If the plan to cut social spending and raise taxes was at all a move to open jobs by creating investment, it failed horribly in the metropolis of Los Angeles. Mike Davis points out that unemployment went up 50% in South-Central neighborhoods by 1982.[12] With jobs moving from Los Angeles to other industrial sites (as well as overseas), certain ‘manufacturing' jobs took their place. However, these jobs were mostly "minimum-wage sweatshops, super-exploiting immigrant Latino labor in the production of furniture... clothes and toys."[13] Latino community poverty was on the rise by the end of the 80's as well with a rate increase from 21.6% to 28.2%[14] by 1987. In 1985, according to Davis, a survey of the public housing projects in Nickerson Gardens showed "120 employed breadwinners out of 1,060 households."[15] For those employed, weekly income for the entire country had gone from $366 to $312 over a 10-year period by 1987. In a similar time frame, annual income for black families fell 63% by 1991.

In 1989, the year Venezuelans said they had had enough, the industrial job sector of Los Angeles began to drop by 1/3.[16] In working class poor neighborhoods in Los Angeles, drugs manifested themselves as an extension of the free market throughout the decade, and all other hopes of making money had been virtually destroyed. By the end of March in 1992, unemployment in the greater L.A. area would be at 8.6%,[17] just days before the mayhem in the city began. The economic plans of the 80's had slowly worn down the city's poor, and the final catalyst to the riots was to be announced a few years later. In Venezuela, the turmoil had already come and gone.

Perez and the IMF: Bait and Switch

Reagan believed that high government spending lead the country into periods of high inflation and slow growth. In Venezuela, neglecting to build industries and infrastructure, as well as high government spending left the country debt ridden, and the infamous Carlos Andres Perez would take office again in 1989. This time however, Perez had neo-liberal plans rather than his original "nationalist" stance. Coaxing the population to vote in his favor was not difficult, though it eventually led the country into a period of political deception.

Perez's campaign came to be the model for "bait and switch" politics, as he did just that. In his 1988 campaign he promised that the burden of two decades of deficit would not be borne by Venezuela's working class poor stating that the IMF was "a neutron bomb that killed people, but left buildings standing." With promises of bringing Venezuela out of debt, Perez did just the opposite of what he was expected to do. He dropped a neutron bomb on his own people. After months of saying he would not go to the IMF, he pulled what is now called "el gran viraje" (the great turn-around), and unleashed what he named the "packet", Venezuela's new plan for eliminating debt.[18]

The International Monetary Fund, based in the United States, has a structural readjustment plan for third world debt. It has come to be known as the Washington Consensus, and is a bit more than just "debt relief". Perez employed the IMF and the Washington Consensus plan in early 1989, just days after he took office. The outline of the plan involved ten points including plans to slash social spending by "a curb to budget deficits" and "a reduction in public expenditure". Government protection of the economy was slashed with the plan of "liberalization, with interest rates determined by the market" and the "abolition of import licensing and a reduction in tariffs". Finally, the nationalization of any industry and the use of resources for the public good jeopardized with "a welcome to direct foreign investment" and the "privatization of state enterprises."[19] The packet was better outlined as an attack on the poor by Miguel Rodriguez, the minister of planning in Venezuela, as "a new social policy that would eliminate the system of massive generalized subsidies directed to the poorest segment of the population."[20]

Many Venezuelans woke up one morning in February to find that Perez's plan might as well have been a neutron bomb. In a city such as Caracas, where the unemployment rate remains around fifty percent (not including the informal sector) at all times, the effects of neoliberal structural adjustment were devastating. As Charles Hardy (a priest living in one of Caracas's barrios at the time) notes, the price of bread had gone up six times overnight. The bus fare, the mode of transportation so many depended on to get to and from their barrios to work as much as they could went up 30% due to an increase in petroleum prices. People could not afford to get to work, or to get to the store, and even if they could, food was unaffordable. The morning of February 27th 1989, the streets of Caracas exploded into violence. All Perez had to show for it was yet another 4.5 billion dollar loan from the United States that was to be borrowed over a period of 3 years, increasing the deficit.[21][22]

El Caracazo

The rioting started with the burning of busses due to the price increase. Within hours thousands of people were in the streets looting stores for food and other necessities they were no longer able to afford. According to Hardy's account of the Caracazo police had joined into the looting too, firing tear gas to disperse crowds while filling police vehicles with merchandise. Many looters went into stores to find that the scarcity of necessities was false, as much food had been stockpiled while owners waited for the price to go up. Hardy also recalls that he was told that in one barrio a local hardware store was not targeted due to the owner's honesty in maintaining low prices and selling on credit, an act of solidarity within the community that will play out in the Los Angeles riots as well.[23]

In response to the intense rioting, the military was called into Caracas by President Perez to squelch the uprising. Their role in the rioting was indeed reminiscent of death squads that "shot anything that moved."[24] The death toll, as a result of soldiers firing into stacks of shanty-like houses in Caracas' poorest neighborhoods is estimated to be as high as 3,000 [25] though the government would initially only admit to 276. Mass graves uncovered on the outskirts of the city proved a higher death toll than the government recognized number. Now the official toll is recognized as being much higher than 3,000.

The government went on much unchanged throughout the 90's, and the Caracazo was unspoken of, though remembered, in fear of further uprising by Venezuela's poor. Richard Gott describes the 90's in Venezuela, following the Caracazo, as a "climate of hopelessness and political apathy,"[26] though by the end of the 90's the Caracazo had really shown itself as a sign of change. In 1992, an unsuccessful coup attempt against Perez was carried out, a direct action in the wake of the rioting. In Los Angeles, 1992 was the year the disenfranchised poor would stand up.

King of Los Angeles

The economic disparities in Los Angeles had been growing at an increasingly more rapid rate for almost two decades. The effects had become a disproportionately heavy burden on poor Black and Latino communities. The repercussions of the dismantling of inner-city economy had led to higher repression. The relationship between outsiders in the community, especially police, and those living within the community were nothing short of shoddy.

In the South-Central neighborhoods, the Korean owned businesses had become a portal between the neo-liberal policies of the wealthy and poverty. Mike Davis characterizes this role as contributing to "the disappearance of local jobs to foreign competition." Often selling their cheaper imported products and never employing Black or Latino workers, store owners who did not actually live within the communities brought neither jobs nor investment into these neighborhoods. In March of 1991, a Korean storeowner murdered 15-year-old Latasha Harlins for suspicion that she was trying to steal a bottle of orange juice. After a verbal confrontation with the storeowner, Latasha, with money in her hand, placed the bottle of orange juice on the counter and walked for the door. The clerk shot her in the back of the head on her way out. Soon Ja Du, the shooter, pleaded the crime had be committed in self-defense. Despite video footage showing otherwise, she was given a $500.00 fine, community service, and probation. The tensions created between Korean business owners and residents of these neighborhoods would play out in the riots one year later. However, the direct catalyst to the riots came from the result of an incident that happened 13 days before Latasha's death.[27]

The infamous Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police officers after a routine traffic stop fueled the flames of contempt with life in the city to a point of explosion. A bystander named George Holiday filmed the incident on March 3, 1991. The video depicts the officers using excessive force, hitting King over the head with batons repeatedly and kicking him on the ground. King suffered with a broken leg, a fractured facial bone and numerous cuts and bruises. After being aired on KTLA, CNN picked up the footage and it became the subject of national outrage. The police officers involved were to be tried in court, though a judge moved the trial from the city where it happened, to a courthouse in Simi Valley, a predominately white and generally more affluent area of Ventura County. On April 29th, 1992 a mostly white jury found the officers not guilty, despite the demonizing footage that many thought would be self-evident enough for their prosecution. The verdict was aired on television all over the country. In Los Angeles, the anger of citizens in Black, and later Latino communities of Los Angeles erupted into the ‘justice riots'.[28][29]

The Riot

On the afternoon of the verdict, crowds of protestors had gathered all over parts of the city including the L.A.P.D. headquarters. On the corner of Florence and Normandy in South-Central a large group of people gathered, and due to hostility from the crowd, the police were forced to retreat. The chaos on this corner grew to become the epicenter of the riots, and within hours people had begun looting stores and pulling drivers (mostly white) from their vehicles. By 6 p.m. rioters had set a local Korean owned liquor store on fire, and several more fires were set by the end of the night. At least eight people were reported dead from the mayhem by the end of the day, but the riot was just beginning. By midnight, the city was in a state of emergency.[30]

The rioting continued into the night and the next day. The Los Angeles Fire Department was overwhelmed with the amount of fires started and many buildings were left to burn to the ground. Dozens of stores were looted and there are hours and hours of television footage showing Korean storeowners brandishing handguns and rifles to protect their businesses. The targeting of Korean stores reiterated the hostile race and economic relationships that had developed as one girl living in Los Angeles at the time remembers "most all stores were burned down, except for the ones with signs that said ‘Black owned'... but those stores soon ran out of food as well." A power outage on the second day of rioting left many without food as the stores had been cleared and what food was at their houses would spoil in the days to come. Most public transportation in the city had been suspended by this time, and the government began its next plan to stop the rioting.[31]

By noon on the second day of the riots the National Guard was officially deployed into hot-zones of rioting. Despite their presence, the rioting continued and an additional 6,000 troops were requested by the end of the day. A dusk to dawn curfew was imposed by Friday. By mid-Friday, Rodney King himself appeared on national television requesting that the violence in the city stop asking "People...can't we just get along?" By this point, the riot had escalated beyond the King verdict and despite his plea, the rioting went on until as late as May 4th.[32]

By the end of the riots, the death toll had reached 54 (including one man shot by the national guard troops), and the damages were estimated at $1 billion dollars. Seven thousand fires had been set, and over 12,000 arrests had been made. The city had been left in shambles, and like Caracas, would require years of rebuilding and healing. For the remainder of the 90's there were debates in both cities about how to move on from the losses. Strikingly, coalitions of popular power in both the U.S. and Venezuela had similar desires as to how they wished to relate to their governments both socially and economically. In the years subsequent to the mayhem, the results for both nations have come out to be very different.[33]

Venezuela and Los Angeles: Revolution and Lost Momentum

The Caracazo and the L.A. riots were indeed both class uprisings, though this does not go without saying that the race politics between both were very different. In the years to come, both places began to decide what to do to fix their economic situations, and improve the lives of the impoverished that had come to a breaking point. In a sense, this is where Venezuela's poor and the people of Los Angeles, as well as both governments show the most similarities and differences. Various forces of popular power in Venezuela remember the Caracazo as the way globalization did not work for them. The momentum from this led to the election of a government that not only listens, but also passes many aspects of positive social development into the hands of the people. In the years following the Los Angeles riots, popular power would mobilize in ways unseen since the roots of the civil rights movement. This new movement of people, however, would not have the opportunity to elect a government synchronized with the demands of the people.

By the time the Los Angeles riots were underway in ‘92, a man by the name of Hugo Chavez had already attempted to overthrow the government of Carlos Andres Perez by leading a military rebellion. After mobilizing several high-ranking military officials, the plan to overthrow the government and "detain Perez at the airport"[34] upon his return to the country was underway. Met by heavy armed resistance, the coup attempt failed. Chavez requested an appearance on television to tell the other colonels who had already "seized" targeted objectives throughout the country to surrender peacefully. In his one-minute speech he addressed the pubic and spoke of his reasoning to overthrow Perez. He was speaking to those affected by the "packet" and the Caracazo:

"It is difficult to ask people to sacrifice themselves in a struggle to defend liberty and democracy, when you know that democracy and the rule of law have not been able to provide them with food, or to prevent the exaggerated increases in the cost of living."[35]

He ended saying they had failed "por ahora" (for now), and he was taken off to prison. Another coup attempt was made without Chavez in November of 1992, though this too failed. The revolution in Venezuela was put on hold.

After the justice riots in Los Angeles there was no attempt to overthrow the government, though the movement of people cannot be overlooked. Another popular armed force, that was not the military, requested the rights to rebuild their city based on the voices, needs, and desires of the community. Following the Riots, the infamous Bloods and Crips gangs, the very same gangs that represented the free market in their neighborhoods through the lucrative drug trade for so many years, had "called a truce and produced a sophisticated planning proposal for the rebuilding of Los Angeles."[36] The proposal called for $3.7 billion dollars of federal money to be allotted towards various social programs and construction projects and was characterized by the demand "gives us the hammer and nails and we will rebuild the city."[37] The detailed budget included "$2 billion to reconstruct damaged and long-neglected areas of the city; $1 billion for ‘human welfare' programs that would bring hospitals and health clinics to South Central; $700 million for an education agenda...and $20 million in low interest loans for minority businesses". Disputes over police corruption, something all-too familiar in both Caracas and Los Angeles were to be taken care of through a gun-free "community based ‘police-buddy' system" that would train former gang members to secure their own neighborhoods.[38] As for the drugs, they promised to divert drug money into community investments alongside the government. The first Bush administration and a plethora of other politicians at all levels ignored the plan without consequence.

Daryl Gates, the LAPD Police chief at the time of the riots was invited to the white house where George H.W. Bush tagged him as an "All-American hero". At one point during the night, white house spokesperson Marlin Fitzwater explained that the "The Great Society programs of the 1960's and 1970's" (welfare state programs) were the cause of the riots. Benjamin Hooks, representing the NAACP fought back exclaiming that social programs had not caused the riots but "[i]t was because of Presidents like Reagan who went around looking for the welfare queens and let the savings and loan crooks get away that we now have problems in our streets."[39] The people's call to rebuild the city on their own terms never became a reality, and the government's attitude towards the citizens of Los Angeles was clearly hostile. In Venezuela, calls for community input into the development of their communities with support of the government would become a part of everyday life.

After a two-year stay in jail President Caldera pardoned Chavez in 1994. Over the next four years, Chavez built up support from the civilian left until he ran in the 1998 presidential election. In December of 1998, Chavez won the presidency in a landslide victory securing 56.2 percent of the vote.[40] Elected under the faith of his people that he would not lead the country back into the economic turmoil of the 1980's, Chavez has employed several ideas for development in Venezuela. The renationalization of the oil industry (as well as other industries over the years) has brought social spending up from its all time low of 4.3% in 1997.[41] The money now funds social programs like the famous misiones of Venezuela, which provide educational, health-care, and subsidized food services (amongst others) to impoverished people all over the country. Mission Robinson, a program directed towards adult literacy announced in 2005 "Venezuela was [now] officially illiteracy free."[42] The oil money was finally being ‘sowed' for an array of purposes that may sustainably modernize Venezuela. Upon further examination of this process, it is clear that the people are now just as involved as the government.

Along with the reform of the oil industry and a surge in constructive public spending, there have been further developments in land reform, a switch towards participatory democracy, and a new constitution. The people are working with the government to realize these changes; a relationship defined by the term endogenous. Endogenous development, according to the Chavez government, is economic development formed "from below towards above."[43] This completely counters the trickle down economics crafted by Reagan in the 1980's, as economic planning in an endogenous model also "motivates community participation in the planning of the economy, via new forms of organizations, such as cooperatives and social networks."[44] The very same plea for self-reconstruction by the peoples of Los Angeles after the riots has become imbedded in the rights of Venezuelans.

Conclusion

While Venezuela is entering a new phase of their movement towards socialism, the United Sates has changed very little economically and politically. The government of Venezuela recognizes the Caracazo as the time Venezuela needed to change, and this sentiment has been reiterated in the nation-wide ceremonies that have recently taken place on the 20th anniversary of the event. In the United States, the uprising of the people of Los Angeles has not been integrated as a part of history calling for serious societal changes, even as we begin the leadership of Barack Obama, the U.S.' first African American president. It is very possible, and to some probable, that the lack of change in the aftermath of rebellions will only allow tensions to build up to another breaking point. The United States government has not only taken a different route to rebuilding cities in crisis (as has been seen more recently than Los Angeles in the New Orleans disaster) than Venezuela, but continues to internationally criticize and ostracize Venezuela as a reckless state. In the face of this global fi nancial crisis, it is not only important to remember past events triggered by such economic disparities, but to learn from countries like Venezuela who hold their misfortunes to be self-evident that the global financial system has mistreated the workers and impoverished of the world. The voice of the people, be it through revolt or election, is the voice that calls for change in the 21st century.

This essay was drawn from a collection of essays produced by a group of students from Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington who recently spent three months studying in Venezuela with Evergreen's academic program Building Economic and Social Justice.

Notes

[1] Peterson, Wallace C. Transfer Spending, Taxes, and the American Welfare State (Page 11)

[2] Peterson, Wallace C. Transfer Spending, Taxes, and the American Welfare State (Page17)

[3] Davis, Mike. City of quartz: excavating the future in Los Angeles (Page 304)

[4] Wilpert, Gregory. Changing Venezuela The History and Policies of the Chavez Government (Page 89)

[5] Wilpert, Gregory. Changing Venezuela The History and Policies of the Chavez Government (page 89)

[6] Haggerty, Richard A. "Venezuela." Country Studies

[7] Haggerty, Richard A. "Venezuela." Country Studies

[8] "Historical Inflation data from 1914 to." Welcome to Inflation Data.com

[9] Ackerman, Frank. Reaganomics: rhetoric vs. reality (Page 35)

[10] Ackerman, Frank. Reaganomics: rhetoric vs. reality (Page 40)

[11] U.S. Department of Commerce, Survey of Current Businesses, July Issues 1984-89

[12] Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: excavating the future in Los Angeles 2006 (page 305)

[13] Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: excavating the future in Los Angeles 2006 (pg. 305)

[14] Callinicos, A. T. "The Meaning of Los Angeles Riots." Economic and Political Weekly XXVII (1992): 1603-606.

[15] Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: excavating the future in Los Angeles 2006 (pg. 305)

[16] Soja, Edward W. Postmetropolis Critical Studies of Cities and Regions. Grand Rapids: 2000 (page 394)

[17] "Unemployment Rate: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, California; Percent; NSA." Economagic: Economic Time Series Page. 02 June 2009 <http://economagic.com/em-cgi/data.exe/blsla/lauMT06311003>.

[18] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005. (page 50)

[19] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005. (Page 52)

[20] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005. (Page 54)

[21] Hardy, Charles. Cowboy in Caracas: A North American's Memoir of Venezuela's Democratic Revolution. New York: Curbstone P, 2007. (Page 25)

[22] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005. (Page 54)

[23] Hardy, Charles. Cowboy in Caracas: A North American's Memoir of Venezuela's Democratic Revolution. New York: Curbstone P, 2007. (Page 25-30)

[24] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005 (Page 45)

[25] Wilpert, Gregory. Changing Venezuela By Taking Power. New York: Verso, 2006. (page 17)

[26] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005

[27] Davis, Mike. "A Generation Found that It Could Fight Back." Interview by Lance Selfa. Socialist Worker May 1992.

[28] Linder, Douglas. "JURIST - The Rodney King Beating Trials." JURIST - Legal News and Research. 02 June 2009 <http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/trials24.htm>.

[29] Cannon, Lou. Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD. New York: Westview P, 1999.

[30] "Los Angeles Riots, "Charting the Hours of Chaos", Los." LAFIRE.COM welcomes you to the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical. 02 June 2009 <http://www.lafire.com/famous_fi res/920429_LA-Riots/LATimes-2002-0429-0501/2002-0429_latimes_ChartingTheHoursofChaos.htm>.

[31] "Los Angeles Riots, "Charting the Hours of Chaos", Los." LAFIRE.COM welcomes you to the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical. 02 June 2009 <http://www.lafire.com/famous_fi res/920429_LA-Riots/LATimes-2002-0429-0501/2002-0429_latimes_ChartingTheHoursofChaos.htm>.

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[33] "Los Angeles Riots, "Charting the Hours of Chaos", Los." LAFIRE.COM welcomes you to the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical. 02 June 2009 <http://www.lafire.com/famous_fi res/920429_LA-Riots/LATimes-2002-0429-0501/2002-0429_latimes_ChartingTheHoursofChaos.htm>.

[34] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005. (Page 63)

[35] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005. (page 69)

[36] Madhubuti, Haki R. Why L.A. Happened Implications of the ‘92 Los Angeles Rebellion. (274-82)

[37] Madhubuti, Haki R. Why L.A. Happened Implications of the ‘92 Los Angeles Rebellion. (274-82)

[38] Lusane, Clarence. African Americans at the Crossroads: The Restructuring of Black Leadership & the 1992 Elections. Boston: South End P, 1994. (Page 108) 39 Lusane, Clarence. African Americans at the Crossroads: The Restructuring of Black Leadership & the 1992 Elections. Boston: South End P, 1994. (Page 109)

[40] Gott, Richard. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. New York: Verso, 2005 (Page 139)

[41] Wilpert, Gregory. Changing Venezuela By Taking Power. New York: Verso, 2006. (Page 109)

[42] Wilpert, Gregory. Changing Venezuela By Taking Power. New York: Verso, 2006. (Page 124)

[43] Wilpert, Gregory. Changing Venezuela By Taking Power. New York: Verso, 2006. (Page 80)

[44] Wilpert, Gregory. Changing Venezuela By Taking Power. New York: Verso, 2006. (Page 80)