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When populists in power obtain sufficient constitutional majorities, their preference is to replace the old constitution with their own, as the examples of Hungary and Venezuela show. This process of constitutional transformation is unilateral and frantic, without serious deliberation and consultation with the opposition. The substance of new constitutions emphasizes the symbolism of a "fresh start" and break with the non-populist past. When populists in power cannot change the constitution, they break the old one whenever convenient to them, as the example of Poland shows. Populists disregard constitutional conventions and treat the bare text as the only source of constitutional meanings.
Chapter 5 describes and explains the state of democracy in contemporary Latin America. It shows that the most common problem of democracy is that democracies are low-quality or medium-quality ones. It stresses that even though Latin America has achieved and stabilized democracy, a notable success, it has not democratized fully. It also notes that democracy has broken down in some countries (e.g., Honduras, Venezuela). It argues that multiple factors account for the state of democracy in contemporary Latin America. Ideological differences over neoliberal economic policies have fueled some problems of democracy, as is shown in the cases of Honduras and Venezuela. Changes in various aspects of the international context have helped to stabilize democracies. Additionally, the region’s problems of democracy are also explained by some enduring features of Latin American politics: the exploitation of advantages that accrue to incumbency in political office, the influence of economic power, and the weakness of the state.
Teresa Carreño’s 1887 operatic season in Caracas is a notorious episode in Venezuelan musical history: an attempt to launch an Italian opera company by the country’s most celebrated pianist that ended in dismal failure. Invited by President Guzman in 1885 to give a series of recitals – and subsequently to start a permanent opera company – Carreño was by then in the glory years of her career. Studies of Carreño have long emphasised the symbolic importance of Carreño’s time in Caracas in the 1880s, highlighted by her composition of an 'Himno a Bolivar' during the visit. Less frequently discussed, however, is that the majority of the operatic troupe were in fact recruited from New York, where Carreño had settled in the previous decade, and from where she had pursued concert tours across the United States. The chapter reassesses Carreño’s failed operatic experiment both through the lens of her North American networks and against the shifting relations between New York, Venezuela and Italy at this time. It provides a framework for later activities within Latin America by the US operatic gramophone industry, and underlines the problematic status of Italian opera’s 'civilising' ambitions for local Venezuelan elites. If Venezuela could easily be subsumed into clichés of italianità abroad, then Italian opera was an uneasy and surprisingly mobile symbol of cultural progress.
Recent scholarship has highlighted the theoretical possibility and examples of the tools of constitutional change being used “abusively,” in order to erode the democratic order. This chapter will explore the experience of constitutional backsliding in Colombia, and the response to those efforts by the Colombian Constitutional Court and other political actors. The chapter will explain the utility of a well-developed doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment as a response to potentially abusive amendments such as term limit extensions. However, it will also highlight the dependence of such a doctrinal response on particular political conditions that often do not hold throughout Latin America.
The Venezuelan participation in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2015 and 2016 was expected to be a challenge for the institution, as the Maduro government adopted controversial positions at the General Assembly (UNGA). However, Venezuela contestation line did not appear clearly at the UNSC. Drawing upon an in-depth qualitative study, Erving Goffman's work, and literature on contestation in international organisations (IOs), we interpret this apparent inconsistency from the concept of interaction order. We argue that the UNGA and the UNSC each constitutes a specific interaction order that influences the way contestation practices are channelled. The contestation practices Venezuelan representatives set up at the UNGA hardly work during the UNSC official sessions, where they adapt their practices to its interaction order. Venezuelan representatives also use informal and backstage actions to express their dissent, without avoiding being called into order. Venezuela's moderation at the UNSC results from an invisibilisation of contestation by interaction practices.
This article uncovers the myriad ways Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo destabilised Venezuelan politics between 1945 and 1948, the period known as the Trienio Adeco. In contrast to works focused on Trujillo's personal animosity towards Venezuelan President Rómulo Betancourt, this article argues that Trujillo sought to sabotage Venezuela's governments under Acción Democrática as part of his regional foreign policy targeting bastions of Dominican exiles, anti-Trujillo critics and democratic institutions. Trujillo financed an informal network of Venezuelan conspirators who produced propaganda and launched plots undermining the Adeco governments. With the 1948 military coup, Trujillo derailed democracy and gained a reliable ally in Latin America as those he had long backed entered influential posts and remained beholden to their former benefactor.
Colombia’s Partido Liberal (Liberal Party, PL) and Partido Conservador (Conservative Party, PC) are two of the oldest party organizations in Latin America. They both arose in the middle of the nineteenth century (in 1848 and 1849, respectively), and have participated in almost all national and subnational elections since then. Over their combined 170 years of history, they have managed to adapt and to survive changing conditions, both structural and circumstantial, and to maintain a substantial degree of electoral political power, although this has declined since the early 1990s. Even though both organizations are still able to win votes and elect candidates in popular elections, they do not always do so in a coordinated way. In addition, both parties have lost much of their ability to aggregate collective interests vertically. Therefore, this chapter argues that these organizations merit classifications as diminished subtypes. Taking into account their lack of vertical interest aggregation as well as their minimal degree of horizontal coordination, both the PL and the PC exhibit characteristics of the independent and uncoordinated party types (Luna et al. this volume). Both electoral vehicles still manage to compete in elections with relative success, but without representing a clearly defined electorate.
U.S. government leaders have long considered Latin America their proverbial backyard and have recurrently intervened in the region. In earlier periods of U.S. imperialism, U.S. government leaders justified such intervention with reference to allegedly scientific racial hierarchies, which placed White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) at the top of this artificial hierarchy. In more recent episodes of U.S. imperialism leading into the twenty-first century, however, U.S. leaders have publicly used the language of democracy and human rights to justify intervention. In the instance of contemporary Venezuela, while U.S leaders indeed use the language of human rights and democracy, they also draw on racist tropes of Latin Americans to justify their intervention. Through interviews with U.S. foreign policymakers and analysis of U.S. government documents, I find that U.S. leaders depict former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as an irrational, uncivilized, and beastly leader, who manipulates ideas of racial inequality to maintain power. In addition, U.S. leaders understand him as manipulating an uncritical mass of Venezuelans who cannot think for themselves. U.S. leaders believe it thus their duty to intervene in order to promote democracy and show Venezuelans their true political-economic interests. I connect these dynamics with a history of U.S. intervention into the region and a history of racist and imperial thinking that continues to shape the logic of U.S. foreign policymaking into the present.
Since 2015, over five million Venezuelans have fled their country in an attempt to survive the near collapse of the country’s economy. A majority of these migrants have relocated to geographically proximate countries in Latin America, and as such, millions have been forced to transit through the Colombian–Venezuelan borderlands in order to arrive at their final destination. Extending from the Amazon to the Caribbean, this vast binational region plays host to a myriad of state and armed non-state actors who compete and collaborate for control of resources, people, and territory. Money plays an important role for Venezuelan migrants who transit through or settle in the borderlands. Their access to money, or lack thereof, dictates how and where they enter, transit through, and ultimately settle in Colombia or beyond. Even for those migrants lacking financial any meaningful resources, both Colombian and Venezuelan authorities and other armed non-state actors in the borderlands have found a variety of ways to regulate, victimize, and profit from their entry, settlement, and incorporation into local informal economies.
Unsustainable harvesting to supply the demand for pets is the second most significant threat to parrots (Psittacidae). Given that parrot keeping is widespread, in-depth and culturally sensitive research is needed to inform and develop interventions targeted at changing consumer preferences and purchasing behaviours. Parrot keeping is thought to be driven mainly by a desire for companionship (the affection hypothesis). Alternative hypotheses include a deeply ingrained culture of parrot ownership (the tradition hypothesis) or the influence of socio-economic context (the contextual hypothesis). We used the theory of planned behaviour to evaluate the relative importance of behavioural and contextual factors influencing the intention to keep the yellow-shouldered Amazon Amazona barbadensis as a pet. We interviewed 150 owners and non-owners of parrots in two locations in Macanao Peninsula, Margarita Island, Venezuela, where the primary population of this species is located. We found mixed evidence supporting both the affection and contextual hypotheses: intention to keep parrots was higher in non-owners with high education level, strong affective attitudes regarding human–animal relationships, and higher expectations about social norms (41% of explained variance). Our study expands previous research on the illegal parrot trade by taking into account behavioural measures beyond attitudes, highlighting the role of social norms frequently ignored in such research. We discuss how a behaviour change campaign could redirect affective attitudes in the human–parrot relationship, and promote new social norms that support parrot conservation. Future research should consider the inclusion of moral and injunctive norms, and monitoring of intervention effectiveness.
Chapter 3 considers the politics of state withdrawal from international human rights and criminal courts. This is perhaps the most ostentatious form of backlash politics. Despite states’ threats that they will withdraw from international courts, however, very few threatened withdrawals ever materialize. Using the theoretical framework established in Chapter 2, this chapter considers the experiences of Peru, Venezuela, and Columbia. Venezuela has withdrawn from the Inter-American Human Rights System, while Peru came quite close to withdrawing from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the waning days of the Fujimori regime. In contrast, Colombia has never enacted such threats. This chapter explains why these three states have had such different experiences with respect to withdrawals from the Inter-American human rights regime.
What happens to state bureaucracies when authoritarianism emerges? How do autocrats seek to use the administration to their ends? This chapter addresses these questions, analyzing Venezuela as a typical or representative case. Venezuela has been a (more or less) functioning democracy since 1958. Within the system of the so-called "Puntofijismo," major parties agreed to a consensual model of democracy, sharing offices and distributing revenues of the oil rent. The public administration supported and managed the distribution. This led to stability and wealth in regional comparison. In 1998, Hugo Chávez, a former military officer and failed putschist, assumed the presidency in Venezuela. In the following years, but especially under president Maduro, Venezuela experienced a severe decline of democracy and is today clearly an authoritarian regime. In this chapter, we analyze the strategies of the Chavista governments vis-à-vis the administration. We identify three main strategies to sideline the established bureaucracy: first, repression and firing; second, circumventing and neglecting, which means creating a "parallel state"; and third, militarization of the "civil" service.
Foundational theories of trade politics emphasize a conflict between consumer welfare and protectionist lobbies. But these theories ignore other powerful lobbies that also shape trade policy. We propose a theory of trade distortion arising from conflict between consumer welfare and importer lobbies. We estimate the key parameter of the model—the government's weight on welfare—using original data from Venezuela, where Hugo Chávez used an exchange-rate subsidy to underwrite hundreds of billions of dollars of imports. Whereas estimates from traditional models would make Chávez look like a welfare maximizer, our results indicate that he implemented distortionary commercial policy to the benefit of special interests. Our analysis underscores the importance of tailoring workhorse models to account for differences in interest group configuration. The politics of trade policy is not reducible to the politics of protectionism.
Once populist forces win elections, they follow a similar blueprint to transform the constitutional structure. The populist forces obtain control over the institutions that are central to constitutional power. The steps typically include filling the public administration and apex courts with loyalists, control over the media and autonomous organizations, and increased executive power in the hands of the populist leader. Populist forces promise authenticity and a government (state) that will cater to the people. These are political projects; the constitutional aspects are secondary, and where constitution-making is possible, it has been used to enable the new state, serving the interests of the new elite formed around the Caesaristic leader. The trajectories and exercise of power depend on the availability of a new constitution.
Chapter four examines how followers’ attachments survive after the disappearance of the founder. Specifically, I argue that the symbolic narrative initially crafted by the founder helps turn these ties into a resilient political identity that shapes followers’ worldview, perpetuates the cleavage between followers and their opponents, and reaffirms their faith in the founder’s mission of transcendence. When the founder dies or can no longer physically maintain his personal connection with the followers, this narrative serves as a scripture that, like the New Testament for many Christians, upholds the founder’s identification with the movement. To illustrate this process, I turn to focus group discussions with followers of Peronism and Chavismo, who reveal how their preservation of stories and material possessions connected to the founder perpetuate their affective connections to the movement and provide an opportunity for new politicians who portray themselves as heroic reincarnations of the founder to win the followers’ loyalty.
Chapter five investigates how citizens’ charismatic attachments can be politically reactivated to facilitate new politicians’ consolidation of power. In particular, I argue that successors must depict themselves as symbolic reincarnations of the founder to reanimate the political significance of the followers’ attachments and garner support as new standard-bearers of the movement. Specifically, new leaders must implement two strategies: (1) bold, initially impressive policies and (2) symbolic associations with the charismatic founder. Face-to-face survey experiments conducted with movement followers in Argentina and Venezuela indicate that political candidates who implement these two strategies cause citizens to express stronger emotional attachment to the movement and increased support for the new leader. The results further challenge the notion that charismatic attachments are short-lived and underscore the potential of new leaders to resurrect the political intensity of those attachments.
Chapter three identifies how citizens’ charismatic attachments form, overwhelm alternative linkage types, and contribute to the development of powerful political movements. First, I describe three conditions that charismatic founders must fulfill to cultivate deep, unmediated, and emotional bonds with their followers: (1) direct recognition of these marginalized people’s suffering; (2) enactment of bold, seemingly miraculous policies; and (3) construction of a narrative that glorifies the leader’s heroic position, demonizes his opponents, and stresses his mission to transform society. Next, focusing on the Venezuelan case, I qualitatively examine how Chávez fulfilled these conditions to establish charismatic attachments with his followers. I also show how these bonds overpowered alternative linkages rooted in substantive programs and Chavista organizations. Finally, I conduct a quantitative analysis using a 2007 survey from the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP). The results confirm the overwhelming influence of charismatic, rather than programmatic or organizational, factors on citizens’ attachments to Chavismo.
Chapter one introduces the puzzle of charismatic movement survival and proposes the explanation I advance in this book. First, I summarize the conventional wisdom, which suggests that charismatic movements must transform into institutionalized parties. Next, I present my alternative theory – that these movements can survive by sustaining, rather than discarding, their personalistic core – and argue that this new explanation better accounts for the spasmodic, stubbornly personalistic trajectories of Peronism and Chavismo. Subsequently, I introduce the multi-method research design this book uses to analyze the persistence and revival of charismatic movements in Argentina and Venezuela, which incorporates public opinion data, focus groups, and survey experiments with movement followers; interviews with leaders and political analysts; and archival research documenting each movement’s history. I then clarify and discuss the relationship between three concepts central to this book: charisma, populism, and charismatic movement. Finally, I justify my selection of the two cases of Peronism and Chavismo and lay out the organization of the book.
In Latin America, goods substitution dynamics are evident in states that have recently opposed US hegemony, such as Venezuela and Ecuador. However, the case of Colombia – one of the USA’s closest allies in the region – shows how asset substitution dynamics come to operate under conditions of hierarchy. Colombia does not seek to challenge the USA directly. Rather, Colombia is consistently seeking to diversify its ties with the USA, thereby increasing its leverage and autonomy and hedging its bets from within a hierarchical arrangement. Colombia is a “least likely” case for the theory of goods substitution, and there is limited evidence of actual Chinese goods substitution in Colombia. Yet, China’s increasingly central role in a global goods ecology is a new context in which Colombian hedging strategies are used to threaten with goods substitution. This chapter shows that the mere threat of exiting or hedging strategies has the potential to effect policy change, particularly when combined with domestic political context – a diversification of ties interacts with domestic and international politics, with one area having possible unintended effects on the other.
Drawing on three main lessons suggested by the global history of social spending, this final chapter illustrates how countries can adapt policies followed in their own past or in countries with similar histories. Our three country cases depict policy options facing Japan, Venezuela, and the United States today. For Japan, only a nudge should be needed to make the needed repairs. For crisis-ridden Venezuela, a major overhaul is in order, though it would call only for policies already practiced either in Venezuela’s past or in similar countries. For the United States to adapt policies from three near relatives – Canada, New Zealand, and Australia – simple nudging should do the job for anti-poverty “welfare,” for pension policies, and for investments in early childhood, while more serious changes are called for in the case of American health care.