A Hero’s Curse

The Perpetual Liberation of Venezuela

March 2017 9781849047951 296pp


For nearly two hundred years Venezuela’s political leaders have evoked the legacy of their liberator, Bolívar, to stir popular support. While Bolívar’s heroic struggle helped free a continent, his affinity for dictatorial rule spawned a vicious cycle of liberation and tyranny that has always haunted Venezuela. Since Chávez’s death, the battle for Venezuela’s future has intensified. Amidst a collapsing economy, escalating violence, and shortages of basic goods, there are increasing calls for a change of leadership. Rivals for power compete in demonstrating to the masses that they are the new, true, Venezuelan hero come to set them free.

Kajsa Norman chronicles the rise and fall of Chávez and the tragic impact of Venezuela’s ‘heroic’ politics on ordinary citizens. The stage is set for yet another turn in Venezuela’s cycle of perpetual liberation, with a new generation of leaders clamouring for the title of national hero.

Table of contents

  1. Origins
  2. The Call to Purpose
  3. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  4. The Ordeal
  5. The Punishment
  6. Death, Resurrection, and Delusion
  7. Goliath Wins
  8. The Ascension
  9. No Man’s Land
  10. Endgame



Kajsa Norman has written a vivid, empathetic and deeply human portrayal of how Venezuela’s Bolivarian dream turned into a nightmare. She blends individual stories into the wider narrative of how a revolution, and a country, stumble into a dark labyrinth.’ — Rory Carroll, former Latin America correspondent for the Guardian, author of Comandante: Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela

In an era of surging global populism, Kajsa Norman reminds us that such politics are nothing new in Venezuela. Drawing on vivid and gripping personal narratives, Norman paints a cautionary tale of populist despotism. Norman reminds us that strongman politics have the power to destroy lives and tear nations apart. Essential reading on Venezuela and Latin America’s historically complex relationship with democracy.’ — Brian Klaas, Fellow at the London School of Economics & author of The Despot’s Accomplice

‘Compelling and understandable for the general reader.’ — CHOICE, Highly Recommended


Kajsa Norman is a London-based investigative journalist and author. She has previously published books on Cuba, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. She has also served as a press and information officer for the Swedish Armed Forces in Afghanistan and Mali. Her most recent books are Bridge Over Blood River: The Rise and Fall of the Afrikaners, and A Hero’s Curse: The Perpetual Liberation of Venezuela.

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