PSCI 253
The Tragedy of Venezuela Spring 2020
Division II

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The recent history of Venezuela offers a window into many of the most important political and economic issues faced by people in developing countries. Why does an abundance of oil seem to solve some problems while often leading to perverse economic and political outcomes? How can democracy be made to work better for ordinary people? What does it mean for a government to be truly sovereign? How does corruption grow and what can we do about it? When should we leave important decisions to technocratic experts? What does it mean today to be progressive? The course first briefly reviews Venezuelan post-Independence history, with an emphasis on the post-1958 democratic settlement. It then explores more deeply the reasons for the breakdown of this settlement, the rise of Hugo Chavez, and the decay of the “21st Century Socialist” regime under Chavez and Maduro. Materials include biographies, documentary films, short videos, economic data, and news reports.
The Class: Type: lecture and discussion
Limit: 35
Expected: 15
Class#: 3890
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: a map quiz and four short papers
Prerequisites: a course in comparative politics and a course in economics, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and PSCI majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PSCI Comparative Politics Courses

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