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Marcano, Cristina 1960–

Marcano, Cristina 1960–

PERSONAL:

Born 1960, in Caracas, Venezuela; married Alberto Barrera Tyszka.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Caracas, Venezuela.

CAREER:

Writer, journalist, correspondent, biographer, and editor. Reforma (a Mexican newspaper), correspondent; El Nacional (Venezuelan national newspaper), former chief of international information and political subeditor, currently independent collaborator.

WRITINGS:

(With husband, Alberto Barrera Tyszka) Hugo Chavez Sin Uniforme: Una Historia Personal, Debate (Caracas, Venezuela), 2004, translation by Kristina Cordero published as Hugo Chavez,, introduction by Moises Naim, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Cristina Marcano is a journalist, editor, and biographer based in Caracas, Venezuela. She is currently an independent collaborator for El Nacional, the Venezuelan national newspaper, and has formerly served as chief of international information and as political subeditor for that publication. She is also a correspondent for the Mexican newspaper Reforma.

With her husband, Alberto Barrera Tyszka, Marcano is the author of Hugo Chavez Sin Uniforme: Una Historia Personal, published in English translation as Hugo Chavez. In this book, the authors "have aimed for rare middle ground with a biography that neither extols nor decries" the controversial but undeniably popular president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. With this book, the authors "provide the non-Spanish-speaking reader with the first balanced account of the Venezuelan president's troubling rise to power. They also offer a clearer picture of why Chavez, rather than simply anointing a capable and ideologically sound successor, desperately clings to the presidency," noted Michael C. Moynihan in Reason.

Tyszka and Marcano delve into the life and background of the leftist Chavez. They describe his impoverished upbringing in a house roofed with palm leaves and without running water. Raised by his grandmother, Chavez struggled against his early poverty and always maintained his optimism. The authors note his deep love of baseball and how he had early plans to become a professional baseball player. These plans receded as he grew up and joined the military. There, as a young military officer, Chavez's aspirations grew even larger, encompassing the desire to become the president of Venezuela. Involvement in a failed military coup and subsequent imprisonment some twenty years later seemed to quash this desire, but against the odds, Chavez achieved his goal and was elected president in 1998.

The authors trace Chavez's rise to power and explore his accomplishments since becoming president. They note that his personality, amiable charm, and occasionally clownish actions mask a brilliant political player with steely resolve and well-defined goals. "While gleefully playing the buffoon, he has dismantled and refashioned most of Venezuela's political institutions, taken control of its crucial industries (oil, most importantly) and rewritten its Constitution—twice. He has used headline-grabbing rhetoric, aggressive diplomacy and petrodollars to become one of the most famous political figures in the world," remarked Daniel Kurtz-Phelan in the New York Times Book Review.

Among other elements of Chavez's life and personality, Marcano and Tyszka "focus on the president's psychology, plumbing his strained relationship with his mother and his lust for the spotlight," commented Alexandra Starr in the Washington Post Book World. They cover his conflicts with the United States and the brusque challenges he has issued to President George W. Bush. They note how Chavez has aligned himself with foes of the United States, such as Cuban president Fidel Castro and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in what sometimes appear to be deliberate provocations. The authors include interviews with many who have known and worked with Chavez, and examine his personal life as well as his political fortunes. They note that Chavez has expended much effort in attaining his position, and that he is widely popular in his country and throughout some parts of the world because of his appeal as a "man of the people." However, they also conclude that a large measure of Chavez's popularity rests on the huge upswings in the oil market, and subsequent massive infusions of cash into Venezuela, that have occurred since he became president.

Vanessa Bush, writing in Booklist, called Marcano and Tyszka's work a "fascinating biography of a complex and forceful political figure who bears watching." A Kirkus Reviews critic named it a "thorough, thoughtful biography of Venezuela's controversial leftist president" and an "admirable search for the facts and insight that are often swamped in Chavez's turbulent wake." Moynihan concluded that the book is a "comprehensive portrait of Chavez, a necessary antidote to the political mythologists who have, since the April 2002 coup that briefly ousted his government, exerted a disproportionate influence on the Venezuela debate."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of Hugo Chavez, p. 42.

Hispanic, November, 2007, Victor Cruz-Lugo, review of Hugo Chavez, p. 75.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Hugo Chavez.

New York Times Book Review, October 7, 2007, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, "The King of Venezuela," review of Hugo Chavez.

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of Hugo Chavez, p. 48.

Reason, November 1, 2007, Michael C. Moynihan, "The Caudilio in His Labyrinth: Hugo Chavez and His Enablers," review of Hugo Chavez, p. 57.

Washington Post Book World, September 2, 2007, Alexandra Starr, "Petroleum Populist," review of Hugo Chavez, p. 3.

ONLINE

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (April 22, 2008), author profile.

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