UCL Institute of the Americas


Urban Protest and Informal Democracy in Venezuela

22 March 2017, 5:30 pm

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UCL Institute of the Americas


UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

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Alejandro Velasco (NYU) - Venezuela today is a country mired in turmoil. But thirty years ago the story was different. Back then Venezuela stood for many as an inclusive democracy in a region where dictatorship and civil war reigned. Enlightened leaders, strong parties, powerful unions - all spoke of a stable political system that for decades managed to ensure social peace. Or so it seemed. As historian Alejandro Velasco argues, the conflicts that grip Venezuela today aren't a departure from but a continuation of decades-long struggles over what kind of democracy would emerge after the country's last military dictatorship fell in 1958.

Alejandro Velasco (NYU) is a historian of modern Latin America whose research and teaching interests are in the areas of social movements, urban culture and democratization. His book, Barrio Rising: Urban Popular Politics and the Making of Modern Venezuela (University of California Press, 2015), couples archival and ethnographic research to examine how residents of Venezuela's largest public housing community pursued full citizenship during the heyday of Latin America's once-model democracy.