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Pensando Venezuela: A transformation in retrospect
Conference Organizer: Venezuelan Student Association.
Co-sponsors: Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law, Center
for Latin American Studies, and Stanford Program in Law and Society
This conference seeks to expose the factors that brought ex-president Hugo Chavez to power and led him to carry the transformations that took place during his early mandates. We will begin by describing the democratic state of Venezuela before Chavez, and the influence that its transformation in the past decades has had on Latin America and on a global scale in the past decades. From an economic stand point, we will conduct an analysis of the role that the oil industry and oil dependence has played in the political evolution of Venezuela during the last three decades, with particular emphasis on the Chavista Revolution. This will be followed by a description of how the macroeconomic situation of Venezuela, and the economy in general, influenced the change of regime in the country. From an institutional point of view we will cover the “use and abuse of elections” in Venezuela, along with the role of the 1961 and 1999 constitutions and state reforms in the transformation of the country. We will finally elaborate on the personal and societal values of Venezuelans from a sociological perspective in order to understand their reaction (or lack thereof) to the events endured during this period (1999-2013). This historical context sets the stage for a final panel in which we will discuss the relevance of our findings to the current state of affairs so as to extract the lessons that can help the Venezuelan people move forward.
Prof. Axel Capriles (Confirmed): Prof. Capriles holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Venezuela’s Universidad Santa Maria, and also is an analytical psychologist from Venezuela’s Universidad Catolica Andres Bello (UCAB) and Zurich’s C.G. Jung Institut. Author of renowned books like the Diccionario de la Corrupcion en Venezuela (Dictionary of Corruption in Venezuela), Prof. Capriles currently serves as a professor of economic psychology in Caracas’ UCAB, and also works as a columnist for one of the main Venezuelan newspapers. Dr. Capriles is expected to expose the psychological factors behind Venezuelas collapse, and will specially emphasize the role played by societal and individual values in facilitating the shift towards Venezuela’s new regime.
Prof. Francisco Monaldi (Confirmed): Prof. Monaldi holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University, and currently is a visiting professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Among other positions, Prof. Monaldi also serves as a professor in Caracas’ leading graduate business school, the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administracion (IESA). His extensive academic and consulting experience has focused on the economics and politics of oil management, and varies from policy-making positions in Latin America to international consulting for multinational corporations. During the conference, Prof. Monaldi will be exposing the relationship between oil and the institutional collapse lived in Venezuela during the past decades, and will specifically focus on the role played by the rent-seeking institutions that were developed in the country during its recent history.
Prof. Larry Diamond (Confirmed): Prof. Diamond holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University, and currently is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, as well as director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University. Prof. Diamond has a remarkable academic career that evolves around compar- ative studies of democratic development and consolidation of democracies, and further is the renowned author of “The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World.” His opening presentation will uncover the relevance of studying Venezuela’s regime change within the global context, and further will help us understand the ripple effect in Latin America of Venezuela’s economic and institutional transformation
Dr. Miriam Kornblith (Confirmed): Dr. Kornblith holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Venezuela’s Universidad Central, and currently is the director of the Latin American and Caribbean Program at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC. Dr. Kornblith’s experience varies from scholar positions in Venezuela’s main universities to institutional appointments in Venezuela’s main electoral body, the Consejo Nacional Electoral or National Electoral Council. In this body she served as vice-president and helped oversee several electoral processes during 1998 and 1999. Drawing from her experience as an electoral authority and from her role as a leading scholar in the topic of democracy in Latin America, Dr. Kornblith is expected to discuss the “use and abuse” of elections in Venezuela, as well as the electoral and institutional dimensions of Venezuela’s collapse.
Prof. Pedro Palma (To Be Confirmed): Prof Palma holds an MBA and a Ph.D in Economics from University of Pennsylvania, and currently is a professor of Economics in the IESA. Prof. Palma has had experience in both the academic and the private spheres. He was the vice-president for Booze Allen Hamilton between 1991 and 1997 as well as Co-Founder of MetroEconomica (an ecoanalytic firm). In 2010-2011 he served as President of Venezuela's National Academy of Economics. Amongst other publications, Prof. Palma is the author of “La inflación y su impacto en la calidad de vida de los venezolanos, Propuestas a la Nación” (inflation and its impact on venezuelan's quality of life). We expect him to elaborate on the microeconomic state of the country and how the economy in general influenced the transformation of the country.