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Another Marxist History Text
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In April, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez handed to American President Barack Obama an anti-American and anti-capitalist book written in 1971: Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, by Eduardo Galeano. Galeano blames Europe and the United States for political corruption and poor economies in Latin America.

As Fox News reported (4-24-09), American curiosity about Chávez's reading taste sent Open Veins skyrocketing up Amazon.com's bestseller list, from the 54,295th most-popular book to the second-best seller.

Despite its original low ranking, there is one arena in which Open Veins has always held its appeal: the American college campus. Fox News spoke with numerous professors of Latin-American history who praised the book and said they have frequently assigned it. Some of the professors said they warn students the book lacks balance, but others only praised Open Veins for its "rare insights" into the evils of imperialism.

Prof. Michael Snodgrass of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) said that Open Veins has been extraordinarily influential. "Beyond the literate Latin Americans who actually read the book, millions of students in the entire region learned their own history from teachers who drew their lesson plans directly from its pages," he said. Snodgrass recommended that if Obama wants to return the favor to Ch vez, he should give him A People's History of the United States (See "Howard Zinn's Marxist History Text," Education Reporter, April 2009).

In the Wall Street Journal (4-27-09), Mary Anastasia O'Grady noted that Open Veins was singled out in a 1996 bestseller, written from a free-market perspective, as the "Perfect Latin-American Idiot's Bible." In that book, The Manual of the Perfect Latin-American Idiot, three Latin-American journalists dismantled populist, anticapitalist assumptions taken for granted for decades. The authors devoted an entire chapter to the important role of Open Veins in the mentality they critiqued.

Michael Reid, the Economist's Americas editor, wrote in 2007 that the "history" presented in Open Veins is "that of the propagandist, a potent mix of selective truths, exaggeration and falsehood, caricature and conspiracy theory." "Unwittingly," concludes O'Grady, "Mr. Ch vez's gag gift served another purpose. If there has been any doubt about how he has run his oil-rich country into the ground during a decade of booming petroleum prices, the mystery is now solved. Mr. Galeano's book is Mr. Ch vez's bible."

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