CSU Professor of Sociology James W. Russell organized study abroad trips to Venezuela in 2006, 2007 and 2008 to study the ongoing Bolivarian revolution being led by President Hugo Chávez. Students visited and carried out interviews at health clinics, schools, government offices, community radio stations, farms, and cultural centers.
Charles Hardy, a former priest from Wyoming who lived in one of the poorest areas of Caracas, was the guide for all three trips. Russell learned that Hardy had written a memoir of his experiences among the poor of Venezuela and their reaction to the changes brought about by the Chávez experience. He showed the memoir to Alexander Taylor, the publisher of Curbstone Press in Willimantic, and Curbstone then published it in 2007 to critical success as “Cowboy in Caracas,” with an introduction by Russell.