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Abstract

Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez ushered in the Pink Tide and the rise of the left in Latin America at the turn of the 21st century. Chávez initially won presidential elections in 1998 based on the promise of participatory democracy and tackling economic inequality, and thereafter by championing 21st Century Socialism. From the beginning, Chávez challenged U.S. global leadership by condemning its vision for the world and by cultivating an anti-imperial nexus of allies. This pattern has continued under current President Nicolás Maduro. In response, the U.S. has opposed the Venezuelan socialists throughout three successive presidential administrations: Bush II, Obama, and Trump. Taking influence from Michael Mann’s IEMP model of social power, we detail the ideological, economic, military, and political strategies these administrations have used to undermine the Venezuelan government and assist right-wing opposition parties and civil society groups in Venezuela. While Bush II and Obama primarily sought to depose Chávez by bolstering right-wing political parties and groups that aimed to unseat Chávez at the ballot box, Trump has recognized a parallel government open to an extra-legal change of government and openly called for coercive regime change through a military coup d’état.

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