The Paradox of Violence in Venezuela

Apr 18, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
216 Burr Hall (open to the public)



Event Description

Crime and violence soared in twenty-first-century Venezuela even as poverty and inequality decreased, contradicting the conventional wisdom that these are the underlying causes of violence. The panel will address the rise of violence under both Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro—leftist presidents who made considerable investment in social programs and political inclusion. Violence arose not from the frustration of inequality, or the needs created by poverty, but rather from the interrelated factors of a particular type of revolutionary governance, extraordinary oil revenues, a reliance on militarized policing, and the persistence of concentrated disadvantage. These factors led to dramatic but unequal economic growth, massive institutional and social change, and dysfunctional criminal justice policies that destabilized illicit markets and social networks, leading to an increase in violent conflict resolution. The panel will reorient thinking about violence and its relationship to poverty, inequality, and the state.


Rebecca Hanson is assistant professor at the University of Florida, with a joint appointment in Sociology and Criminology & Law and the Center for Latin American Studies.

David Smilde is the Charles A. and Leo M. Favrot Professor of Human Relations at Tulane University and a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.

Verónica Zubillaga is associate professor at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas. In Caracas, together with fellow researchers, she founded Red de Activismo e Investigación por la Convivencia (Network of Activism and Research for Coexistence), an association dedicated to research and activism for the formulation of public policies that respect democratic guarantees.

DISCUSSANT: Daniel Hirschel-Burns, Latin American Studies, Princeton University

MODERATOR: Javier Guerrero, Spanish and Portuguese, Princeton University

This event is open to the public.

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