Acknowledgments and Preface
The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of Howard I. Blutstein, J. David Edwards, Kathryn Therese Johnston, David S. McMorris, and James D. Rudolph, who wrote the 1976 edition of Area Handbook for Venezuela. The authors also are grateful to individuals in various agencies of the United States government and private institutions who gave their time, research materials, and special knowledge to provide information and perspective. These individuals include Ralph K. Benesch, who oversees the Country Studies Area Handbook Program for the Department of the Army.
The authors also wish to thank those who contributed directly to the preparation of the manuscript. These include Sandra W. Meditz, who reviewed all textual and graphic materials, served as liaison with the sponsoring agency, and provided numerous substantive and technical contributions; Mimi Cantwell, who edited the chapters; Marilyn Majeska, who managed editing and production; and Barbara Edgerton, Janie L. Gilchrist, and Izella Watson, who did the word processing. Cissie Coy performed the final prepublication editorial review, and Joan Cook compiled the index. Linda Peterson of the Library of Congress Printing and Processing Section performed phototypesetting, under the supervision of Peggy Pixley.
Graphics support was provided by David P. Cabitto, who also prepared the maps and charts. He was assisted by Harriet R. Blood and Greenhorne and O'Mara. The illustrations for the cover and the title page of each chapter were designed by Kimberly Lord.
In addition, several individuals who provided research support are gratefully acknowledged. Tim L. Merrill wrote the geography section in chapter 2, prepared several map drafts, and provided sources for several tables included in the appendix. Janie L. Gilchrist filled gaps in the bibliography. Special thanks are also due to Karen Sturges-Vera, who provided both photographs and helpful commentary regarding the text.
Finally, the authors acknowledge the generosity of individuals and the public and private agencies who allowed their photographs to be used in this study. They are indebted especially to those who contributed original work not previously published.
Like its predecessor, this study represents an attempt to treat in a compact and objective manner the dominant contemporary social, political, economic, and military aspects of Venezuela. Sources of information included scholarly books, journals, and monographs; official reports of governments and international organizations; numerous periodicals; the authors' earlier research and observations; and interviews with individuals who have special competence in Venezuelan and Latin American affairs. To the extent possible, place-names conform with the system used by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Measurements are given in the metric system.
Although there are numerous variations, Spanish surnames generally consist of two parts: the patrilineal name followed by the matrilineal one. In the instance of Eleazar López Contreras, for example, López is his father's name and Contreras his mother's maiden name. In nonformal use, the matrilineal name is often dropped. Thus, after the first mention, just López is used. A minority of individuals use only the patrilineal name.
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