Hugo Chávez, Alí Primera, and the politics of popular music in Venezuela

Primera's tomb // lubrio/flickr, CC BY-SA

Primera’s tomb // lubrio/flickr, CC BY-SA

In February 1992, a Venezuelan colonel called Hugo Chávez, together with other officers from a movement that had formed within the military, led an unsuccessful coup attempt against the country’s deeply unpopular government. Two years later, on the day he was released from prison having served time for his role in the failed coup, Chávez was asked by a journalist if he had a message for the people of Venezuela. “Yes,” he replied: “Let them listen to Alí Primera’s songs!”

Within five years, having formed a new political organisation and mounted a campaign rooted in these very songs, Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela with 56% of the vote. On February 2 1999, he became the first head of state without links to the country’s establishment parties in over 40 years. Chávez won three more general elections in what former US president Jimmy Carter has described as the best electoral process in the world, remaining president until his death in March 2013. Full story.

Hazel Marsh (The Conversation) / March 7, 2017

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