On the Origins of Polarization in Venezuela


Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 12:00pm


CGIS South, S250, 1730 Cambridge Street

Speaker: Alejandro Velasco, Associate Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University
Moderator: Frances Hagopian, Jorge Paulo Lemann Senior Lecturer on Government

While the literature on urban Latin America has examined the relationship between politics and space, the particular impact of political polarization on urban space and vice versa has received scant attention. In this sense, Caracas is an exemplary case. On one hand, it is marked by long standing spatial segregation, considerably deepened in the 1990s era of neoliberal reforms. On the other hand, the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez as President, promising a popular revolution, ushered in intense political polarization that closely followed pre existing patterns of spatial segregation, marked by race and class differences. This paper traces how the development and deepening of this segregation in the 1990s created the conditions for the emergence under Chavez of a distinct and under examined phenomenon: not segregated cities, but parallel cities.

Alejandro Velasco is Associate Professor of Latin American History at New York University, and Executive Editor of NACLA Report on the Americas. He is the author of the award-winning Barrio Rising: Urban Popular Politics and the Making of Modern Venezuela. A frequent media contributor, his editorials and analysis have appeared in Nueva Sociedad, The Nation, the New York Times, BBC History Magazine, and others, and in radio and television outlets including NPR, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, France 24, the BBC, and the CBC.

The Tuesday Seminar Series is a bring your own brown bag lunch series. Please feel free to enjoy your lunch at the lecture, drinks will be provided.