Venezuelan Studies

A Section of the Latin American Studies Association

Section Annual Report 2019

Section on Venezuelan Studies 2018-2019

Report Submitted to LASA, July 2019
Prepared by Iria Puyosa/ SVS Chair

I am pleased to report on the activities of the Section on Venezuelan Studies, as well as on our regular business meeting held during the LASA 2019 Congress in Boston, USA.

  • Section Business Meeting

The Section of Venezuelan Studies (SVS) business meeting was held on May 29 from 5:45 to 7:15 pm, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. Fifty (50) members attended. Chair Iria Puyosa presided the session.

The following points were discussed in the meeting:

1- Declining Membership

The Chair reported that the Venezuelan section has currently 114 registered members (sixteen members less than last year). This membership count will allow the Section to sponsor only two panels for LASA 2020. The Section Chair and other members expressed concern as a substantial increase of academic interest in Venezuela -which is evident in more than 100 papers related to Venezuela presented at this Congress- is being accompanied by a decline in the number of Venezuelan scholars attending the Congress. As it was stated, on a document submitted in the Chairs meeting, in LASA, Venezuela is studied and discussed from afar, in the absence of the voices of Venezuelan researchers.

2- Section of Venezuelan Studies’ proposals to assist Venezuelan past, current and prospective members

The Chair informed that the SVS presented in the LASA Chairs meeting the document approved by the Section Executive Committee with specific proposals to address the situation of Venezuelan researchers that cannot afford to attend LASA congresses. The main proposals are the following: a) Venezuelan Members should be listed as ‘Category 4’ Members; b) Requesting an automatic subsidy for Venezuelan Residents to cover the annual membership of the Section on Venezuelan Studies; c) Creating a Fund to support the participation of Venezuelan members in the LASA Congress (both residents and non-residents); d) Create and promote an initiative to support Venezuelan academics who have recently migrated to other countries. These proposals were received with understanding by the Chairs meeting, and the SVS is expecting a follow-up response from LASA leadership. (Document below)

3- Crowdfunding and SVS Grants

With the membership funds and contributions to the crowdfunding of the Section, four scholarships were granted to researchers resident in Venezuela that applied for support to attend the 2019 Congress. The recipients were Vicente Lecuna (1,000), Margarita López Maya (500$), Claudia Vargas (500$) and Francisco Alfaro (500$).

4- Composition of the Committee

The new composition of the Section Executive Committee, recently elected, was announced.

a. The newly elected members are the following: Miguel Angel Martínez Meucci ( Universidad Austral de Chile) , Francisco Alfaro (Independent scholar ), María Isabel Puerta Riera (Valencia College ) y Rebecca Hanson (University of Florida)

b. The council members elected in 2018 that will continue serving are: Daniel Levine, Margarita López Maya, Magaly Sánchez, Víctor Mijares, Juan Manuel Trak y Alejandro Martínez as graduate student (until 2020)

The Chair thanked Verónica Zubillaga, Alicia Ríos, Nathalie Bouzaglo, Andrés Cañizález and Armando Chaguaceda for their services to the Section.

Raul Sanchez Urribarri will continued to serve as the Secretary and Iria Puyosa as Section Chair (until 2020).

They were welcomed and thanks were given to the outgoing members.

5- SVS Panels

The 2019 Congress SVS featured panels were the following:

a) "The Consolidation of Authoritarian Rule in Venezuela: A Conceptual and Empirical Assessment".

Organizer / Chair: Raul Sanchez Urribarri

Co-Chair: Maryhen Jiménez

Discussant: Veronica Zubillaga

Papers / Authors:

  • Political regime, logics of power and state capacities in Venezuela - Miguel Ángel Martínez Meucci
  • Régimen Híbrido y Apaciguamiento. El Aprovechamiento de los Mecanismos Alternativos de Diálogo y Negociación para el Tránsito hacia el Autoritarismo en Venezuela - Francisco José Alfaro
  • Respuesta Internacional a La Consolidación del Autoritarismo en Venezuela - Adriana Boersner
b) "Freedom of expression, media development, and contemporary Venezuelan politics".

Organizer: Kyong L. Mazzaro

Discussant: Matias Ponce.

Papers / Authors:

  • Electoral competition, partisanship, and the media: A look at restrictions on media freedom in Venezuela (2002-2015) - Kyong L. Mazzaro.
  • Twitter as a battlefield for the survival of Chavism - Iria Puyosa.
c) "La mutación criminal en la era post Chávez".

Organizer: Rebecca Hanson

Discussant: Alejandro Velasco

Papers / Authors:

  • The Paradox of Violence in Venezuela - David Smilde
  • Del punitivismo carcelario a la matanza sistemática: El avance de los operativos militarizados en la era post-Chávez - Veronica Zubillaga & Rebecca Hanson
  • El tiro por la culata: Políticas de seguridad y guerra urbana en Caracas - Andrés Antillano
  • Dinámicas armadas y órdenes territoriales urbanos en Caracas: Un estudio de caso en tres barrios caraqueños - Enrique Desmond Arias

The Section on Venezuelan Studies promoted and help to organize an Intersectional Panel jointed with theSections on Colombian and Ecuadorian Studies, titled: La Gran Colombia: La Invención de la República . However, the venezuelan scholar Tomas Straka was unable to attend the Congress to present his work “ Reconciliándonos con la gloria: la Gran Colombia en el pensamiento político e historiográfico venezolano (1907-1948)”, due to financial constraints. The Intersectional panel was re-organized without the Venezuelan Section participation.

5. SVS Awards

During the Section meeting the SVS Awards to the 2019 Best Articles were presented.

According to the verdict by the jury integrated by Javier Corrales (Amherst College), Alicia Lissidini (National University of San Martin) and Armando Chaguaceda (University of Guanajuato), the Venezuelan Studies Section Award to the Best Article 2019, Social Sciences mention, to: "Soft Balancing the Titans: Venezuelan Foreign Policy Policy Toward the United States, China and Russia" by Víctor M. Mijares (Universidad de los Andes - Bogotá). Two mentions were given to: "The new frontiers of Venezuela's rentier state: Gold mining, cryptocurrency and commodity collateralization" by Antulio Rosales (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oslo) and "From prison punitivism to systematic slaughter: The advance of militarized operations in the post-chávez era "by Veronica Zubillaga (Simón Bolívar University) and Rebecca Hanson (University of Florida). According to the verdict by the jury integrated by Gustavo Guerrero (Université de Cergy-Pontoise//Paris Seine), Gina Saraceni (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana) y Colette Capriles (Universidad Simón Bolívar), the Venezuelan Studies Section Award to the Best Article 2019, Humanities mention, was given ex aqueo to “The Welser Phantom: Apparitions of the Welser Venezuela Colony in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century German Cultural Memory" by Giovanna Montenegro (Binghamton University) and "RAW: The Flesh of the Past" by Irina Troconis (New York University).

6. Venezuelan Studies Conferences

The meeting attendees approved to promote and organize Venezuelan Studies conferences that may allow more Venezuelan researcher to present their work and scholarly discuss with colleagues.

a. Venezuelan Studies in Caracas

Francisco Alfaro, new member of the SVS Executive Committee volunteered to lead the Organizer Committee of the Venezuelan Studies Conference in Caracas. Fernando Torres, Claudia Vargas and Víctor Mijares will be part of this Organizer Committee. Other Venezuelan academics unable to attend the LASA Congress in Boston may join this committee.

b. Venezuelan Studies in Bogotá

Victor Mijares volunteered to lead the Organizer Committee of the Venezuelan Studies Conference in Bogotá.

7. Funding to support membership academic work

Those attending the meeting agreed that the most important issue faced by the Venezuelan Studies Section is to seek funding opportunities to keep Venezuelan scholars participating in academic activities. David Smilde volunteered to lead these efforts.

8. Other Relevant Matters

a. SVS’ declaration regarding Venezuela’s Forced Migration Crisis

On October 2018, the SVS published a declaration urging the Latin American Studies community of scholars to pay attention to the ongoing Venezuelan crisis and to give support to Venezuelan researchers forced to migrate in the last five years. This declaration was signed by 83 members of the SVS ( Attached ). The Section did not receive messages of support from the LASA Executive Council or others Section, although some colleagues expressed support on a personal level

b. Social media team

The Chair thanked Cecilia Rodríguez and Manuel Silva Ferrer for their services handling the SVS social media accounts. Since Cecilia Rodríguez will no longer will be helping in this work, María Isabel Puerta volunteered to join the social media team.

c. Naming the Best Articles Award

The proposal of opening to membership vote of the name for the best paper award in both Social Sciences and Humanities was approved by the attendees to the meeting. The name of the awards will honored outstanding Venezuelan scholars.

d. Academic collaboration

Those attending the meeting -specially those joining the Section Executive Committee. agreed to continue working on enhancing the role of the Section as a hub to create and consolidate academic networks, in order to foster collaboration between residents in Venezuela and members based overseas, especially those who have been forced to leave Venezuela in the past five years.

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Latin American Studies Association

Section on Venezuelan Studies

Latin American Studies Association

2019 Annual Meeting

LASA Section Chairs Dear Colleagues,

We would like to call your attention to, and address, the devastating impact of Venezuela’s current socio-economic, political and humanitarian crisis on our fellow colleagues from Venezuela. We would like to set aside the debate about the crisis itself, and focus on exploring options to assist our colleagues. This includes many of those who have been members of this organisation, and dedicated their efforts to nurture and develop it, for years prior. Assisting them is not a mere favour: It is our professional duty.

The Section on Venezuelan Studies has attempted to discuss options to help our Venezuelan colleagues and consider the difficulties they face due to the country’s crisis since at least 2010, when the country’s crisis began becoming apparent. Our previous chairs David Smilde, Margarita López Maya, Javier Guerrero and Vicente Lecuna, tried to bring this matter to the attention of the Association’s Executive Council to no avail. Given the magnitude of the crisis at this stage, we hope that the Executive Council and the Chairs of the Association’s Section decide to act without further delays.

The Section of Venezuelan Studies’ proposals to assist Venezuelan past, current and prospective members is the following:

1. Venezuelan Members should be listed as ‘Category 4’ Members

Listing Venezuela as a ‘Category 4’ country would be of enormous help to our colleagues. Venezuelan academics make less than US$ 10,000 a year (in fact, they make about US$64 a year, including annual leave). Currently, Venezuelan academics pay US$ 45 + US$ 12 = US$ 57 for their membership. By designating Venezuela as ‘Category 4’, members would pay US$17 + US$12 = US$29. This would make it easier for our members to keep their affiliation to the Association, and to find and use subsidies and donations effectively to assist them.

2. Requesting an automatic subsidy for Venezuelan Residents to cover the annual membership of the Section on Venezuelan Studies

We propose the following mechanism: When a member resident in Venezuela becomes member of the Section on Venezuelan Studies, or renews their membership, they automatically receive a US$12 subsidy to cover their membership fees from a LASA fund created to this effect.

3. Creating a Fund to support the participation of Venezuelan members in the Annual Meeting (both residents and non-residents)

We are concerned that a substantial increase of academic interest in Venezuela -which is evident in more than 100 papers at this Congress- is being accompanied by a decline in the number of Venezuelan scholars attending the Congress. Venezuela in LASA is studied and discussed from afar, in the absence of the voices of Venezuelan researchers. To address this problem, we would like to establish a Venezuelan Grants Fund . We ask that LASA donates the US$5 it retains for each SVS membership toward a new Venezuelan Grants Fund, that the Section would use towards our annual travel grants. The SVS has been supporting attendance at the LASA congress of Venezuelan academics with crowdfunding. This year we awarded four travel grants with funds obtained by this initiative. However, this initiative does not provide an institutional, sustainable and efficient response to the problem. A travel grant funds with enough institutional support would.

4. Create and promote an initiative to support Venezuelan academics who have recently migrated to other countries

The difficulty to obtain funds for attending the LASA Congress also persists among colleagues who have been forced to expatriate, and who also do not count on institutional funds for research and attendance at events. Therefore, we need to expand our efforts to raise funds and thus meet their growing needs. In that sense, we reiterate the call we made in the declaration on the Massive Forced Migration Crisis of Venezuelans , which we published in October 2018: "The Venezuelan Studies Section of LASA also calls on its members and other colleagues in the association to receive Venezuelan researchers who are part of the population forced to emigrate from Venezuela, so that they can provide support that allows them to continue with their academic careers, at least as temporary visiting researchers in host institutions. "

Iria Puyosa

Section on Venezuelan Studies - Chair

Raul Sanchez Urribarri

Section on Venezuelan Studies - Secretary