Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

International Scholars Gather at Tulane to Unpack the Paradox of Violence in Venezuela

November 5th, 2015

This past Halloween weekend, Tulane welcomed 15 national and international scholars as they attended the Paradox of Violence in Venezuela: A Comparative Approach Conference hosted by the Center for Inter American Policy and Research. The conference sought to develop a better understanding of the “paradox” in which violence has risen rapidly in Venezuela despite the country’s achievements in alleviating poverty and social inequalities. Dr. David Smilde of Tulane University, Dr. Verónica Zubillaga of the Universidad Simón Bolivar in Caracas, and Rebecca Hanson of the University of Georgia spearheaded the event. Other conference participants hailed from Venezuela, Ecuador, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Over the course of the three-day conference, participants presented original research in panels that focused on the roots of violence in Venezuela, prisons and illegal drug trades, citizen security policies and police reform, and civil society responses. Participants also presented case studies from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Brazil to serve as points of comparison for the topics in Venezuela. These panels were followed by open Q&A sessions, as well as discussions led by Tulane faculty members Arachu Castro, Ludovico Feoli, Virginia Oliveros, and doctoral student Lucas Diaz.

The conference was a great success. Not only did the event facilitate the establishment of international scholarly networks, but also the presentations and discussions shed light on the causes, effects, and policy and research implications of the current violence in Venezuela. The participants’ papers will also contribute to a book manuscript concerning violence in Venezuela that will be submitted for peer-review later this year.

Conference Program Overview

Thursday
Dinner
Welcome, Ludovico Feoli
Key Note: Desmond Arias (George Mason University)

Friday Morning
Opening comments, David Smilde
I. Analysis of the problem
Dorothy Kronick (Stanford University),
Roberto Briceño Leon (Laboratorio de Ciencias Sociales, LACSO),
Comparative experiences: Ecuador, Fernando Carrión, FLACSO, Ecuador.
Tulane faculty member discussant: Arachu Castro
Afternoon
II. Prisons and drugs
Andres Antillano (Universidad Central de Venezuela)
Verónica Zubillaga (Universidad Simón Bolívar)
Comparative experiences: Brazil, Robert Gay (Connecticut College)
Tulane faculty member discussant: Ludovico Feoli
III. Citizen security policies and police reform
Rebecca Hanson (University of Georgia),
Luis Gerardo Gabaldon (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello)
Comparative experiences: Nicaragua, Dennis Rodgers (University of Glasgow)
Tulane faculty member discussant: Virginia Oliveros

Saturday
IV. Civil society responses, and non-state armed actors
Manuel Llorens (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello)
Alejandro Velasco (New York University)
Comparative experiences: El Salvador, Benjamin Lessing (University of Chicago)
Tulane faculty member discussant: Lucas Diaz

Final discussion led by Richard Snyder (Brown University). Comparative analysis and perspectives with all participants

Venezuela + People
Arachu Castro
Senior Associate Research Fellow - Samuel Z. Stone Chair of Public Health in Latin America