SLAS E-Newsletter, July 2016

The eNewsletter is compiled and sent out to you by Christy Palmer. If you have an up-coming event or items that you would like included in the next eNewsletter, then please send the details to:

PLEASE NOTE: not all 'Call for Papers', are listed in the section 'Call for Papers'. Many are within the conference and seminar notices in the 'Conference and Seminars' section of the eNewsletter. All deadlines have been highlighted or emboldened in red.




No August eNewsletter!

Dear SLAS Members,
Just an annual reminder that there is no August eNewsletter. The Next eNewsletter will be with you on Monday 5 September. Please do send in any items you have for that eNewsletter by Friday 2 September. We hope that you all have a very happy, healthy and relaxing summer and look forward to hearing from you in September!
With very best wishes for the summer,

Gregory Rabassa, a Premier Translator of Spanish and Portuguese Fiction, Dies at 94
The New York Times, 15 June 2016

Gregory Rabassa, a distinguished translator from Spanish and Portuguese who brought the work of luminaries like Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa to a wide English-speaking public, died on Monday in Branford, Conn. He was 94.

His family confirmed the death.

A longtime faculty member of Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Professor Rabassa was widely considered one of the foremost translators of any kind in the world. He was known in particular for making the wave of dynamic and powerful fiction, much of it magic realist, that emerged in Latin America in the 1960s and afterward — a literary phenomenon known there as “El Boom” — accessible in English.

Foremost among those novels was “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Mr. García Márquez’s epochal multigenerational saga, first published in the author’s native Colombia in 1967. Professor Rabassa’s critically acclaimed translation, issued in the United States in 1970, marked the inaugural appearance in English of both the novel and its author.

The novel, in Professor Rabassa’s rendering, became a best seller. Mr. García Márquez, who publicly described Professor Rabassa as “the best Latin American writer in the English language,” received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.

Writing in The New York Times, John Leonard reviewed “One Hundred Years of Solitude” — which centers on the fortunes of the mythical South American town of Macondo and includes such spectacularly routine phenomena as ghosts, mass insomnia and tumbling clouds of butterflies — calling it “superbly translated.”

He further called the novel, in an encomium that speaks to the translator’s skill as well as the author’s, “a cathedral of words, perceptions and legends that amounts to the declaration of a state of mind.”

Professor Rabassa’s other Spanish-to-English work includes the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar’s novel “Hopscotch,” for which he won a National Book Award for translation in 1967; “The Green House” and “Conversation in the Cathedral,” by Mr. Vargas Llosa, a native of Peru; and Mr. García Márquez’s “Leaf Storm and Other Stories” and “The Autumn of the Patriarch.”

Continue reading the story



The Governance of the Global Cocaine Supply Chain
UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN
4 July 2016 | 09:30 - 16:30

Popular reports on drug trafficking often focus on localized violence. The cocaine trade, however, is not a series of isolated spaces affected by a product, but, rather, is an interconnected set of experiences, systems, and processes. This workshop will bring together scholars to examine the nature of the linkages between sites along cocaine’s global supply chain and the implications of those interconnections for social, political, and economic life along the cocaine supply route. By integrating existing site focused qualitative research the workshop will provide a deeper understanding of the impact of illegal commodity flows and offer a stronger basis for understanding the ramifications of drug policy. 

Confirmed speakers:

Desmond Arias (George Mason University); Thomas Grisaffi(University College London); Annette Idler (Oxford University);Rivke Jaffe (University Of Amsterdam); Henrik Vigh (the University of Copenhagen);David Skarbek (Kings College London); Jeff Garmany (Kings College London); Graham Denyer Willis (University Of Cambridge); Adam Baird (Coventry University)

The full programme can be consulted here.

Members of the public wishing to attend this event should e-mail Dr Thomas Grisaffi in the first instance:

Territorial Peace in Colombia: Perspectives from a Local Level
UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN
7 July 2016 | 18:00 - 20:00

Peace dialogues between the Colombian Government and the FARC and ELN guerrillas are the first step to end sixty years of internal armed conflict. Peace, however, is by no means guaranteed. Distrust and opposition to the dialogues, violence against community leaders and human rights defenders, and persistence of armed groups, are among the most alarming factors threatening the development of the dialogues and future implementation of the agreements. Given this, it is necessary to envisage post-conflict challenges from a territorial perspective, recognising the different effects that the conflict has had in each territory, and encouraging the active involvement of local inhabitants in peace building. 

Urged on by the pressing need to confront the issue of territorial peace, doctoral students from across the University of London invite debate on the topic with key stakeholders from Colombia and the UK. This dialogue is part of the ongoing international support for the peace process, crucial to the success of the agreements and their implementation. Join us for a fruitful discussion about the complexities of territorial peace in Colombia. After the speakers’ interventions, the floor will be open to questions, followed by a wine reception. 

Speakers: Camilo Fonseca (FENALPER, Colombia), Andres Santamaria (CNP, Colombia), Louise Winstanley (ABColombia); chair: Professor Julio Davila (UCL DPU)

Attendance is free of charge but registration is required.

Spanish American Intellectuals in London and the Cause for Independence
Hall, 58 Grafton Way, London
12 July, 7-9 pm, Bolivar

Presented by Café Culture

The aftermath of the American and French revolutions had a knock-on effect in London’s public life. Not only did it become one of the most affluent and active financial centres of the Western world but it also came to be the preferred destination for ever-growing numbers of Latin American exiles who fought the cause of independence from the Spanish Crown. Among them, the Precursor Francisco de Miranda played a crucial role in gathering at his house in Grafton Street (as it was called then) some of the most important military and political figures of the time.

In this session, Humberto Núñez-Faraco and Gregorio Alonso will explore the political views of some of the Spanish American Patriots and their relationship with British intellectuals. Humberto Núñez-Faraco will consider the independence projects of the Jesuit Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán, Francisco de Miranda and Simón Bolívar. Gregorio Alonso will talk about the Precursor’s relationship with Jeremy Bentham and James Mill to focus on the fruitful collaboration and lasting influence exerted by the two Englishmen on the Chilean poet, philosopher and jurist Andrés Bello.

The talks will be convened by Maria Alejandra Rivas Briceño and followed by a Q&A session and a tour to Casa Miranda, where facsimile copies of the publications El Colombiano, Biblioteca Americana, Repertorio Americano, and of letters by, or addressed to, Jeremy Bentham on the topic of Latin American independence will be on display.



The event is free, but registration is essential:

Francisco de Miranda: The First Global Revolutionary
Canning House, 14/15 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8PS
13 July 2016 | 17.00 - 20.00

Francisco de Miranda was one of the most global of the protagonists of the Independence of Spain’s American colonies, and remains amongst the more celebrated today. This event will mark the bicentenary of his death, in prison in Cádiz, at a time when Spanish reconquest of South America looked possible if not likely. The final victories of independence were won without him. So, to what extent has the passage of time shaped the myth of this global revolutionary? Was he a visionary or a fantasist? Should we still discuss his relationship with Simón Bolívar? How significant were his experiences conversing with Catherine the Great of Russia, his marriage to Sarah Andrews, his travels in Russia, Asia and Europe, or his long-term residence in Grafton Street, London, at the heart of the Latin American exile community. Thanks to his service in the French army, Miranda’s name is the only one of a Latin American to be inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. He was ‘a remarkable man in an age of remarkable men’, according to his biographer Karen Racine. The invited panel – Professor Anthony McFarlaneDr Alejandro GómezProfessor Catherine Davies and Dr Matthew Brown – will discuss just how remarkable he was, and what Miranda’s story can tell us about the worlds in which he lived.

Anthony McFarlane (B.Sc.[Econ] LSE; Ph.D., University of London) is Professor Emeritus in the History Department of the University of Warwick. A specialist in the history of the Spanish world during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, his work includes studies of Colombia’s economic history during and after the colonial period, the history of rebellions, slavery and crime in the late colonial period, and the movements for independence in Spanish America.

Alejandro E. Gómez holds a doctorate from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. His principal areas of research include socio-racial conflicts in the revolutionary Caribbean, the emotional impact of the Haitian Revolution, and the study of sensibilities in the age of abolitionism.

Catherine Davies is the Director of the Institute of Modern Languages Research at the University of London, and Professor of Hispanic and Latin American Studies at the University of Nottingham. Her research interests include gender and nationalism in Cuba and Spain, particularly the formation and transmission of liberal thought in 19th-century Spanish and Spanish American literature and cultural history.

Matthew Brown is Reader in Latin American Studies at the University of Bristol. He holds a doctorate from University College London, and an MA from the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of From Frontiers to Football: An Alternative History of Latin America since 1800 (Reaktion, 2014), The Struggle for Power in Post-Independence Colombia and Venezuela (Palgrave, 2012), Adventuring through Spanish Colonies: Simón Bolívar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of New Nations (Liverpool University Press, 2006).

If you would like to attend please RSVP to

Cuba Research Forum, Annual Conference
University of Nottingham
6-8 September 2016

To view the costs and booking form, please click here. For questions and further information please contact Antoni Kapcia


Tuesday 6 September 2016
11.00 The Next Generation: Targeting Youth
    Rebels, Sleeping Beauty and an Imp: reviewing children’s popular culture in Revolutionary Cuba through a study of Pionero magazine for children in the 1960s.
Anne Luke (Derby)
The universalisation of higher education in Cuba.
Rosi Smith (Nottingham)
Ciertas Conductas: Childhood, Education, and Nation in Sara Gómez's De cierta manera (Sara Gómez, 1974) and Conducta (Ernesto Daranas, 2014).
Dunja Fehimovic (Cambridge)
13.00 Lunch
14.00 Oral History and Cuba
    The Politics of Money and Power in Cuba, Life History Narratives.
Elizabeth Dore (Southampton)
Sensitive Topics in Oral History testimonies: Humour as a coping mechanism.
Stephanie Panichelli-Batalla (Aston)
Sensitive Topics: Transgender narratives in Cuba.
Olga Lidia Saavedra Montes de Oca
15.30 Break
16.00 Special Panel: Culture In Cuba Today
    Fernando Jacomino León (La Jiribilla & former president of Instituto Cubano del Libro).
Sandra Almaguer (former editor of editorial de Ciencias Sociales).
Diego Gutiérrez (trovador).
18.00 Reception
19.30 Dinner
Wednesday 7 September 2016
09.00 Images Of Cuba: Desde Fuera
    British literary & journalistic visits to Havana: 1920s & 30s.
Christopher Hull (Chester)
Take me to Fidel!” – Burt Glinn, Magnum Photos and the Cuban Revolution.
James Kent (Royal Holloway London)
Sartre, Castro, and the existentialist revolution.
William Rowlandson (Kent)
10.30 Break
10.50 Images Of Cuba: Dentro De La Revolución
    Repeating Cuba: approaches to reconciliation and Reappropriation.
Sjamme an de Voort (Nottingham)
Cuban media constructions of 'the people' in times of national crisis.
Sara García Santamaría (Sheffield)
Cuba as a brand. Tensions and meanings of the “Auténtica Cuba” nation branding campaign (2012-2016).
Félix Lossío (Newcastle)
12.20 Lunch
13.15 The Very Political Economy
    End of an Era? Market challenges to the 'socialist state of workers'
Steve Ludlam (Sheffield)
Macroeconomic mysteries
Emily Morris (UCL and IADB)
Is Cuba still socialist? Analysing recent socioeconomic changes in Cuba
Helen Yaffe
14.45 Break
15.00 Beyond Havana And The Nation? Peripheral Identities & Literary Culture In Cuba
     The periphery of the periphery: literary capital in Granma, Cuba.
Par Kumaraswami (Reading)
Preservation, transmission, and storage: issues of cultural identity in Granma.
Miranda Lickert (Reading)
Within the national narrative: Oriente, Granma – and Bartolomé Masó.
Tony Kapcia (Nottingham)
Espiritismo de cordon in Granma: Religiosity in Cuba.
Armandina Maldonado Deller (Nottingham)
17.00 The International Dimension
    Beyond the network analysis of scientific collaboration: meeting Cuban scientists in Cuba & abroad.
Miriam Palacios-Callender (UWL)
The impact of Cuba opening to international business on its healthcare system.
Chiara Cochetti (Regional Manager, Latin America, IMS Health)
Analyzing Cuba-US Relations in the New Scenario: Political Methodology.
Arnold August (Canada)
18.30 Performance by Diego Gutiérrez
19.30 Dinner
Thursday 8 September 2016
09.00 History: Three Contested Moments
    The Cuerpo de voluntarios: an overview.
Fernando Padilla (Bristol)
La rebelión mediática. El papel de la dimensión pública en la insurrección cubana (1953-1958).
Patricia Calvo González (Santiago de Compostela)
Recovering Embezzled Property, Cuba 1959.
Steve Cushion (UCL)
10.30 Break
10.50 Culture In Transition?
    Somos la mezcla perfecta, la combinación más pura, Cubanos, la más grande creación”: Grooves, Pleasures and Politics in today’s Cuba.
Kjetil Klette Boehler (Oslo)
Dialéctica del deshielo: entre la cultura pop y la estética de la ruina o ‘Cuba está demoda”.
Lizette Mora (FLACSO, Mexico)
Cuban cinema, crisis or transition? The current state of Cuba’s film Industry.
Guy Baron (Aberystwyth)
12.20 Lunch
13.15 Space & Spaces
    Adapting contemporary spatial theory for neocolonial Cuba.
Jenni Ramone (Nottingham Trent)
Geographical information for Cubanists: a practical tool kit.
Alberto Martí (Nottingham)
Education, Revolution and Public Space in the City: Celebrating International Solidarity and Peace from Havana.
Ranu Basu (York, Canada)
14.45 Break
15.10 Representation & Representations
   Military but not so militant? Some considerations on Cuban military testimonials about the Angola War.
Raquel Ribeiro (Edinburgh)
Fifty shades of masculinity in contemporary Cuba.
Raul Marchena (Reading)
Rectification without end: Los procesos de perfeccionamiento.
Lauren Collins (Nottingham)
16.45 Close of Conference

Latin American Studies: A Model of Indiscipline?50th Anniversary Symposium
Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge
1 October 2016

A one-day symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Centre of Latin American Studies will bring together leading scholars in Cambridge and beyond to consider how the study of Latin America has challenged the theories and practices that define academic disciplines.

In a famous essay, W. J. T. Mitchell extols visual culture as an ‘indiscipline’ that creates forms of ‘turbulence or incoherence’ at the boundaries of disciplines. If, as he claims, ‘interdisciplinarity’ has in many ways become consecrated and safely institutionalized, ‘indiscipline’ is a moment of rupture that brings the continuity and practice of a discipline into question. This symposium will consider the extent to which Latin American Studies is characterized by such moments of ‘indiscipline’, asking questions such as:

Keynote speakers:


Chriselia de Vries, Centre Administrator
(9.30am - 2.30pm Monday - Thursday, 9:30am - 1:30pm Friday)​
(0)1223 335390 |​



Examining gender, sexualities and sexual markets in natural resource extraction sites in Latin America”, Panel
XXXV International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
Lima, Peru
29 April - 1 May 2017

DEADLINE 15 August 2016

Abstracts of 250 words (max.) can be submitted in Spanish, Portuguese or English by August 15, 2016 to the coordinators Susanne Hofmann (PUEG-UNAM) and Melisa Cabrapan Duarte (CONICET-IIDyPCA-UNRN/FFyL-UBA)

Reading the Liminal(ity)
Latin American Literature: Past, Present and Future, LALSA Annual Conference 2016
York St John University
17-18 November 2016

DEADLINE 1 September 2016

Papers are invited for the LALSA Annual Conference. The conference welcomes contributions from the scholars and students of Latin American literature. Any approach to well known or lesser known texts is welcome; any cross-disciplinary stance is encouraged.

This year, the theme of the conference is ‘Reading the Liminal(ity)’. Abstracts (250-350 words) are welcome in English or Spanish. Presentations will be 20 minutes.

IMPORTANT: To submit an abstract, you must be a LALSA member. Please contact Victoria Carpenter ( to join. There is a £10 annual membership fee, to be paid with the conference registration.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 1 September 2016. We will let you know if your abstract has been accepted by 20 September 2016. Please e-mail your abstract to Join us and enjoy the company of like-minded scholars of Latin American literature.

For more information please visit the LALSA website:



Positivism gaúcho-Style: Júlio de Castilhos’s Dictatorship and Its Impact on State- and Nation-Building in Getúlio Vargas’s Brazil
By Jens R Hentschke

ISBN: 9788539706945 
Por R$: 56,80

Historian Jens R Hentschke’s book Positivism gaúcho-Style: Júlio de Castilhos’s Dictatorship and Its Impact on State- and Nation-Building in Getúlio Vargas’s Brazil, originally published in English in Germany, has been translated into Portuguese and was launched by Pontifical-Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul Press last week.

In this revisionist study, the author argues that French Positivism, which had played a major role in Brazil’s transition from monarchy to republic, did not disappear at the turn of the 20th century. It survived at the country’s southern frontier, in Rio Grande do Sul, where governor Júlio de Castilhos had installed a developmental and educational dictatorship and inspired a whole generation of politicians, among them Getúlio Vargas. When, in 1930, Vargas and many of his fellow gaúchos took over central government, Positivism, in its specific interpretation by Castilhos, re-entered the national stage though it increasingly fused with other ideological currents. Gaúchos had an almost unlimited confidence in the healing powers of good institutions. They did not only want to govern their country but rebuild state and nation. Positivism became a driving force behind what Fernando Henrique Cardoso has called an ‘authoritarian national-developmentalism.’ Some of its long-term effects, such as a frenzy for regulation, political engineering of constitutional law, regulated citizenship, and (neo-)populism, can still be felt today.

In his preface, Joseph Love, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and a pioneer of this research strand, writes: ‘Hentschke’s nuanced work will be welcomed not only by students of Riograndense politics, but will also stand as a landmark in the study of positivism in Brazil for decades to come.  All those who seek to explain Vargas’s career will have to deal with Hentschke’s argument’ 

An official launch, in the author’s presence, is planned in September.


Beyond the Boliburguesía Thesis: Political Report #1151
By Steve Ellner, NACLA
Latin American Perspectives

"Oil didn't wreck Venezuela's economy, socialism did." That's what Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, of the Washington-based conservative think tank Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote earlier this year in his reflection on Venezuela's deepening economic crisis. Gobry, a prolific writer for Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other publications, went on to criticize Venezuelan analysts who scapegoat petroleum, even though he recognized that declining oil prices have aggravated the nation's difficulties. "The culprit is clear and obvious," Golbry contends. "The problem is Venezuela's authoritarian socialism."

The deterioration of the quality of life in Venezuela feeds into Gobry's uncompromising statements, as well as those of the Venezuelan opposition. Indeed, the pressing problems facing Venezuela, ranging from triple-digit inflation to hours-long lines to purchase basic goods-not to mention visible cases of corruption-have provided the country's opposition with ammunition to discredit the Left's political and economic project. Either explicitly or implicitly, this emerging narrative glorifies neoliberalism on the basis that state intervention in the economy, which became a distinguishing feature of the 14-year government of Hugo Chávez, is doomed to fail-no matter the form it takes. According to some critics of Chavismo, the inevitable byproduct of Chávez's economic policies was the flourishing of corruption at the hands of Chavista bureaucrats, in cahoots with corrupt Chavista businesspeople.

While not exonerating the Venezuelan government's serious policy errors, a broader analysis of the relations between the Chavista government and the private sector highlights the complex nature of the current crisis. Such an examination serves to debunk the neoliberal claim about the inherent flaws of Venezuela's leftist model. It also raises issues worthy of debate in order to draw lessons from the rich experience of Chavista rule.

One major conclusion is that circumstances, including attempts to topple the government, forced Chavistas to make compromises and enter into tactical alliances with economic groups that did not share the stated goals of the broader Chavista movement. These accords were not an error; the error was not doing enough to strengthen the only force capable of checking the abuses that should have been anticipated: Chavismo's rank and file and the country's grassroots social movements.

The Anti-Socialist Narrative

Conservatives in Venezuela are saying much the same as foreign pundits like Gobry. The Caracas-based think tank CEDICE (an associate of the Cato Institute) has conflated socialism and Keynesianism and in doing so, reaches similar conclusions about the dangers of state intervention writ-large. CEDICE economists have attributed the economic calamities in Venezuela to "the policies implemented in a country where there exists total [state] control of the economy, along with a total absence of capitalism, thus generating poverty and unemployment." Much of the organized opposition accepts this unambiguously neoliberal line. Former Central Bank economist José Guerra, who is now a National Deputy and the opposition's main spokesman on economic policy, told Televen news channel recently that "Twenty-first century socialism has ruined the Venezuelan people." Quite notably, the anti-socialist narrative of Guerra and many others ignores the fact that the Venezuelan economy continues to be over 70 percent privately owned.

The view that blames socialism, or even Keynesianism, for the acute scarcities of basic commodities, which over the last two years have been Venezuela's most pressing economic problem, passes over the real concrete factors that are at play. Major causes include the plunge in international oil prices and the well-documented "economic war" consisting of politically induced disinvestment on the part of the private sector.

A third factor is more complicated. It involves the disparity between government-regulated prices and black market prices for goods (including foreign currency). The system of regulated prices is often an effective measure favoring popular sectors. But when black market prices are more than double those of official prices for high-demand commodities, as has been the case in Venezuela since late 2012, corruption and contraband become commonplace. Former Planning Minister Jorge Giordani estimates that in 2012 alone companies defrauded the government of $20 billion USD by purchasing cheap dollars for phony or overpriced imports from the Central Bank. These companies were then able to reap handsome profits by selling the currency on the black market.

Opposition leaders are careful not to blame their allies in the private sector for this type of fraudulent activity. Instead, they point the finger exclusively at the so-called "boliburguesía"-that is, those Venezuelan businesspeople who have been associated with the Chavista movement and are outside the fold of the traditional bourgeoisie. Carlos Tablante, a former governor and member of the then left-leaning Movement toward Socialism (MAS), underscored this allegedly intimate relationship between the Chavista government and "Chavista" businesspeople by stating "a new caste now governs the country."

The anti-Chavista discourse that equates socialism with corruption ignores a few important facts, however. For one, the most blatant corruption scandals in Latin America over the last century occurred during the neoliberal governments of the 1990s: Carlos Salinas (Mexico), Carlos Menem (Argentina), Alberto Fujimori (Peru), Fernando Collor de Mello (Brazil), and Carlos Andrés Pérez (Venezuela). It's no coincidence that corruption proliferated under the watch of neoliberals. Deregulation, free trade, and laissez-faire policies in general open the doors for unethical dealings. In his The Political Economy of Latin America, political scientist Peter Kingstone has noted that "although neoliberals argued that the withdrawal of the state would decrease the opportunities for corruption, the reality is that it created new, different opportunities."

The argument that socialism has bred corruption also ignores the facts revealed by several empirical studies of the Venezuelan currency-corruption scandal of 2012. According to those probes, traditional economic groups, multinational corporations, and emerging businesspeople were all guilty parties in the $20 billion dollar rip off. But one of the studies, undertaken by political analyst and activist Luis Enrique Gavazut, concluded that "the lion's share of the fraud in 2012 was perpetrated by large multinational corporations that have subsidiaries in the nation." Gavazut went on to claim that some of the illicit activity (involving dollars) could not have been carried out had U.S. authorities monitored shady operations in Florida and other states where the dollars were eventually deposited or invested.

Thus, the $20 billion Venezuela currency scandal in many ways resembles that of the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras. In both cases those guilty of unethical actions span the political spectrum, from right to left. In the case of Venezuela, businesspeople belonging to traditional business associations like Fedecámaras (which twice spearheaded the effort to overthrow Chávez in 2002) share the blame with members of an emerging bourgeoisie, some of whom call themselves Chavistas.

So Who's to Blame?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt the Chavista government, like any government, holds the brunt of the blame for ethical wrongdoing committed in the public sector. In the first place, government policies that ignored market conditions and allowed for a wide disparity between official and black market prices paved the way for widespread contraband and corruption.

Second, the current government of Nicolás Maduro has stopped short of carrying out an all-out campaign against corruption, even while indictments of public functionaries (at both supervisory and non-supervisory levels) for unethical behavior far surpass the record of establishment parties prior to Chávez's rise to power in 1998. (For more on this, see my forthcoming article "Showdown in Venezuela" to be published in NACLA Report on the Americas 48.2, Summer 2016).

Third, the Chavista government has done little to overhaul the shady and unprincipled system of favoritism in granting public works' contracts, a process that became institutionalized and all-pervasive in Venezuela long before 1998. This system includes routine kickbacks for contracts. It is well known in Venezuela, for example, that whenever a governor or mayor is replaced-even by someone of the same political party-a whole new set of construction firms gets the lion's share of the contracts.

The country's governing party, the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), which is run by Chavista ministers, governors, and mayors, has failed to serve as a check on these activities. The PSUV's rank and file envisions its role as a corrective counterweight to the party machine, with the power to denounce abuses wherever they arise. Internal party primaries in which all candidates are given equal opportunities-as Chávez had called for-would facilitate this dynamic, but in recent years, the cards have been staked against those aspirants for elected office who lack backing from above.

Emerging versus Traditional Bourgeoisie

At the same time-and contrary to opposition claims-emerging businesspeople have been far from unconditional supporters of the Chavista government, nor are they a monolithic group. Indeed, many of the businesspeople dubbed by the opposition as "boliburgueses" have turned out to be anything but Chavistas.

Consider the new owners of the once rabidly anti-Chavista TV channel Globovisión. Shortly after the channel's purchase in 2013, Miami commissioners declared Globovisión president Raúl Gorrín and his co-owners personas non-grata, calling them "rich boliburgueses of the Venezuelan government." At the same time, the city's newspaper, El Nuevo Herald, referred to the Globovisión owners as "friends of Chavismo" and claimed they had purchased millions of dollars in property in south Florida and drove around Miami in pricey sports cars. Globovisión's new head fit the boliburguesía bill. Gorrín began his career with little capital and originally held subordinate positions in banking institutions that Chávez held responsible for a financial breakdown in 2009. (The late president ordered the arrest of several of the banks' owners shortly thereafter.)

Critics of the new Globovisión predicted that the station would quickly become a mouthpiece of the government. Upon assuming the presidency, Gorrín committed Globovisión to "objectivity and impartiality" as he modified the programming by toning down the channel's aggressively anti-government slant. Nevertheless, as the Maduro government lost popularity, particularly following its defeat in the December 2015 National Assembly elections, Globovisión became increasingly critical. Earlier this year, Maduro affirmed, "One watches Globovisión and it's April 9, 2002 all over again," in reference to the media-promoted coup staged that day against Chávez.

Another so-called Chavista businessman is Alberto Cudemus, who left Fedecámaras after two unsuccessful attempts at becoming its president. Cudemus called for harmonious relations between business and government at the same time that he received generous contracts to supply pork to state food outlets. His stance also earned him a degree of contempt from those who called him a "socialist businessman." But after Maduro assumed the presidency in 2013, Cudemus put forward an all-encompassing critique of the government's economic policy that differed little from that of Fedecámaras. Cudemus charged that Maduro was surrounded by "inept functionaries" and that his "economic model" was flawed. Allegedly ill-advised policies included the government's cap on profits, a labor law filled with job security provisions, excessive printing of currency, the expansion of bureaucracy, the non-payment of debts to the private sector, and a lack of business input in policy formulation. Such criticisms go against the media's portrayal of Venezuela's emerging business groups as squarely located in the Chavista camp, to say the least.

Firebrands on the right also accuse various well-established capitalist groups of having "sold out" to the Chavistas. One example is billionaire Gustavo Cisneros, who some in the opposition called an "accomplice" in the electoral fraud allegedly committed by Chávez in the 2004 recall election. Cisneros's Venevisión TV channel went from open support for the April 2002 coup to even-handed coverage after June 2004, when Jimmy Carter arranged a closed meeting between Chávez and the media magnate.

Evidently the Chávez government accepted the renewal of Venevisión's concessions in exchange for its abandonment of Fox News-like reporting. Subsequently, the Chávez government refused to renew the concession of the channel "Radio Caracas," which had also actively supported the 2002 coup. ("Radio Caracas" was Venevisión's main competitor.) Some opposition commentators insinuated that at the Carter-mediated meeting Cisneros sold his soul to the devil for the sake of commercial expansion.

The Venezuelan opposition's line about the boliburguesía being a Chavista phenomenon ignores why ties with emerging businesspeople were established in the first place. Namely, the opposition has erased the fact that the government's favoritism toward politically neutral businesspeople was a reaction to the hostility of Fedecámaras that culminated in two attempts to overthrow Chávez in 2002. The Chavista strategy of embracing certain sectors of the business community was an attempt to neutralize an aggressive business class, not to win it over. Indeed, the anti-Fedecámaras businesspeople rallied behind the banner of political neutrality, and not that of leftist policies.

At the same time, the Chavista leadership, in effect, ruled out a strategic alliance with supposedly progressive businesspeople, sometimes referred to as the "progressive bourgeoisie" (a term used by Latin American communists half a century ago). That strategy had been advocated by Chávez's right-hand man Luis Miquilena (who initiated his political career in the communist movement in the 1940s). However, Miquilena ended up supporting the abortive coup against Chávez in April 2002.

To this day, the ties between the Chavista movement and the private sector, including emerging business groups, are at best tenuous. Both traditional and emerging business interests are critical of key aspects of the anti-neoliberalism adopted by the Maduro government, such as caps on profits. Similarly, the policy of exchange controls first implemented by Chávez in 2003 impedes the ability of businesspeople to convert their profits into dollars to send abroad, as third-world capitalists in Latin America are prone to do. Finally, the Chavista anti-capitalist rhetoric and constant attacks on the bourgeoisie (a term used pejoratively by the Chavistas) cannot be favorably viewed by the owners of any fair-sized business, be it a traditional one or one of recent origin.

The Larger Implications

The opposition's claim regarding the rise of a new ruling "caste" in the form of the boliburguesía reinforces the old notion that socialism is inherently flawed. Throughout much of the twentieth century, apologists for capitalism pointed to the Soviet Union as proof that socialism and democracy were by nature incompatible. In recent times, academics writing on twenty-first century Latin American politics have claimed that the failure of leftist "populist" governments to achieve high levels of productivity demonstrates the inherently unsustainable nature of socialist policies.

Similarly, the proponents of the boliburguesía thesis purport to document a relationship between corruption and socialism. Thus, the importance of debunking their arguments by demonstrating the shaky and unstable ties between emerging business groups and Chavismo-and why the ties between the two were established in the first place. The complicity of companies affiliated with Fedecámaras, as well as multinationals, in cases of corruption further puts in relief the spuriousness of the anti-socialist narrative now talking hold across much of the region.

Temporary ties between a socialist government and business groups may be inevitable in any prolonged process of bringing about socialism by democratic means. An internally democratic party with a degree of autonomy vis-à-vis the state is the best guarantee that such ties will not solidify in time, and that corruption is kept in check. In Venezuela, as elsewhere in Latin America, the construction of such a party is necessary in order to achieve authentic democracy. The democratization of the PSUV and greater input from the grassroots are more imperative now than at any other time for the very survival of the Chavista project and the success of its strategy for change.

Original article and sources can be found at:

Carlos Diaz / Creative Commons



Lecturer / Senior Lecturer in International Business or Strategy
The University of Liverpool Management School (ULMS)

DEADLINE 11 July 2016

ULMS sits in the top 5% of business schools globally. Formed in 2002 and led by its newly appointed Director, Professor Julia Balogun, the School is well positioned to further enhance its national and international standing. AACSB accredited and with its full-time MBA ranked in the Economist top 100, ULMS has 150 academic staff who enjoy a strongly collegial, research-supportive, and intellectually vibrant interdisciplinary environment.

ULMS is seeking to appoint a Lecturer / Senior Lecturer in IB or Strategy. You should have a doctorate in IB, Strategy or a related area from an accredited, research-intensive institution. For a position at Senior Lecturer level, you should have a strong record of publications in relevant journals recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent. For a position at Lecturer level, your research record so far should provide clear evidence of your capacity to publish at this level. You should also have the willingness and the capacity to assume research leadership roles e.g., in working with PhD students and early career researchers, and the development of grant applications.

You should also have teaching experience and the willingness to take leadership responsibility for delivering modules in particular in our IB area. You will also share in administrative responsibilities that are part of a vibrant, expanding Management School.

The closing date for this position is July 11, 2016. Interviews will be held on July 20, 2016. For further details regarding the application process, please visit:

For informal enquiries please contact the Head of the Organisation and Management Group, Professor Ansgar Richter (

Lecturer in Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies
University of Essex, School of Philosophy and Art History
Permanent, Full Time, £38,896 to £46,414 p.a.
Job Ref: #ACR283

DEADLINE 21 July 2016

The School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex is pleased to invite applications for a permanent Lectureship. This is an exciting opportunity for an interdisciplinary scholar with interest and expertise in art, architecture and/or visual culture of Latin America as well as in Digital Humanities.

We are seeking someone with a transdisciplinary perspective on the world and a generalist orientation to knowledge. The post holder will be expected to carry out a vigorous programme of independent research, to contribute broadly to teaching and supervision activities within the School and University, and to participate in the usual range of administrative duties.

You will be submitted to the REF in Art History, and teach both in Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies. The post holder will work closely with the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA: and its staff in pursuing research, knowledge exchange and impact activities. Essential qualifications for the post include: evidence of research excellence; experience of teaching in a higher education environment or the demonstrable potential for excellence in teaching; ability to contribute teaching and supervision in Latin American Studies and Digital Humanities.

You can find further information regarding Essex Art History ( and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities ( in the job pack.

We particularly welcome applications from women and those from an ethnic minority as they are under-represented in the School.

Start date of 1 September 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Please use this link to make an application and for further details about this job (Ref.ACR283). Visit our website: for information about the University of Essex.

If you have a disability and would like information in a different format, please telephone (01206 874693 / 873521.)

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships Competition 2016-17
Hosting at the Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge

DEADLINE 27 July 2016

The Centre of Latin American Studies (CLAS), University of Cambridge, invites applications for hosting from applicants for British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships, to be taken up from October 2017.

Applications are welcome from Latin Americanists working in any eligible field supported by the British Academy. Successful applicants would be asked to make a modest contribution to teaching on the MPhil in Latin American Studies, within their chosen area of research. They would be expected to play a full part in the thriving research community based at CLAS, and to live in or near Cambridge during the week in termtime, unless carrying out fieldwork. They will have access to world-class research facilities and a range of opportunities for training and career development.

The BA deadline for outline applications is expected to fall in early October, and application forms will soon be available via the Academy’s website. For more information, see: Please check the eligibility criteria carefully, and contact the Academy direct if you have any queries on this front.

Applicants who wish to be considered for hosting at CLAS should send to the Director of the Centre, Dr Joanna Page ( by the deadline:

We regret that applications arriving late, OR with one or more references missing, cannot be considered.

For information about the Centre of Latin American Studies, please see our website:

Research Associate
University of Cambridge, Department of Sociology
Fixed Term 2 yrs, Full Time, £28,982 to £37,768 p.a.
Job Ref: #JM09487

DEADLINE 1 September 2016

The Department of Sociology is seeking to appoint two suitably qualified individuals to work as Research Associates on an ESRC-funded project, titled "Latin American Antiracism in a 'Post-Racial' Age" directed by Dr Monica Moreno Figueroa at the University of Cambridge.

The project starts on 1 January 2017 and is of 24 months duration. It is co-directed by Professor Peter Wade of the University of Manchester, where another two Research Associates will be working. The Cambridge Research Associates will be based at the University of Cambridge and will carry out 4 months of preparatory work in Cambridge, followed by 9-10 months of fieldwork research in either Mexico or Ecuador, and ending with 10 months of analysis and writing in Cambridge.

The successful candidates will have a doctoral degree in Sociology or Social Anthropology or a related discipline. They will have experience of carrying out fieldwork, preferably in Latin America. They will be fluent in Spanish. They will also have an excellent command of written and spoken English. They will be key contributors to the joint activities and outputs of the project. In addition, they will be expected to pursue independent research, within the framework of the project, leading to a number of chapters/articles submitted for publication during and after the tenure of the project. They will be involved in the planning of the research, the organisation of some events, carrying out data collection (including interviews), analysing data (including some interview transcription), as well helping with the servicing of a project webpage and the editing of research publications emerging from the project. They will also assist the PI with the administration of the research project as necessary. Initiative, motivation, effective teamwork and liaison with other team members and project collaborators in the UK and abroad are crucial to the role.          

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 2 years in the first instance.

To apply online for this vacancy and to view further information about the role, please visit: This will take you to the role on the University’s Job Opportunities pages. There you will need to click on the 'Apply online' button and register an account with the University's Web Recruitment System (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Further information about the Department can be found at Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Monica Moreno Figueroa at or telephone +44 (0)1223 334855

Interviews will be held on Thursday 29 September 2016. Please quote reference JM09487 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity. The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.