The Paradox of Violence in Venezuela

Revolution, Crime, and Policing During Chavismo

This book defies basic assumptions about crime: while Venezuela under Chavez reduced poverty and inequality and promoted economic growth, criminality skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. This collection of brilliant studies written by frontline scholars provides responses to this riddle from various perspectives and methods, and subtly unfolds the many ways criminal violence explodes. This is a seminal work for social studies that transcends Venezuela. It provides lessons for understanding the multifaceted challenges Latin American nations must face to address public safety and social cohesion.
Marcelo Bergman, National University of Tres de Febrero

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 Paradox of Violence in Venezuela explains the rise of violence under both Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro—leftist presidents who made considerable investment in social programs and political inclusion. Contributors argue that 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 Paradox of Violence in Venezuela reorients thinking about violence and its relationship to poverty, inequality, and the state.

312 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

June, 2022

isbn : 9780822947127

about the editors

David Smilde

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.

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David Smilde
Verónica Zubillaga

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.

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Verónica Zubillaga
Rebecca Hanson

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.

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Rebecca Hanson