Wilson Center Experts

Margarita Lopez Maya

Fellow
Latin American Program

Affiliation:
Professor Titular at the Center for Development Studies (CENDES) at the Central University of Venezuela
Wilson Center Project(s):
"Participatory Innovations in Bolivarian Caracas"

I have been a researcher and lecturer of Contemporary Political History of my country for more then twenty five years. I have studied political and social participation in different historical periods of Venezuela's democracy. In that context I have investigated on par¬ties and popular protest in 20th Century Venezuela, especially during the final years of that century when Venezuelan society entered in a deep political crisis and the once strong party system declined. One phenomenon that marked my professional career was the riots of 1989, known as the Caracazo, that in the following years I studied in detail. Since then creative forms of direct democracy have been a dear demand of Venezuelans of all social sectors. The Chávez government owes much of their popularity and support to having responded to that demand. But the way in which participatory democracy has been developing raises many doubts and questions that for me are a challenge I wish to respond to. In that sense I have been working on participatory innovations in the Bolivarian revolution now for more than four years. I hope to contribute with some insight into its strengths and weaknesses.
 

Education

Licenciada in History (1981); Doctor in Social Sciences (1995)
 

Experience

  • Professor-Researcher, Central University of Venezuela, Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo (CENDES) (Center of Studies on
    Development), 1982-present
  • Central University of Venezuela, Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo (CENDES) (Center of Studies on Development)
  • Professorial Delegate at the Directory and Technical Commission of CENDES, 1987-88
  • Head of the Socio-political Development Department, Central University of Venezuela. Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo (CENDES) (Center of Studies on Development),1989-1991
  • Professor-Researcher Level Titular,Central University of Venezuela. Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo (CENDES) (Center of Studies on Development), since 1998
  • Member of the Technical Commission in Social Sciences and Humanities, National Council of Scientific and Technological Researches (CONICIT), May 1998-2000
  • Notre Dame Visiting Fellow of the Helen Kellogg Institute, Hellen Kellogg Institute, January-May, 1999
  • Director of Revista Venezolana de Economía y Ciencias Sociales, Central University of Venezuela. Faculty of Economy and Social Sciences, January 2000-December 2004
  • Andrés Bello Fellow, Oxford University, St. Antony's College Oxford, Great Britain, 2000-01
  • Tinker Foundation Fellow, Columbia University, Institute of Latin American Studies, January-May 2005
  • Member of the Directory Board in representaion of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO), since December 2006

Expertise

Contemporary history and sociopolitical analysis of Venezuela; popular protest in contemporary Venezuela; participatory democracy in Venezuela; the Bolivarian movement and government

Project Summary

The topic of my research is the "participatory innovations" being developed in the city of Caracas since President Chavez's first term in office. These innovations represent new spaces opened by the Chavez administration for the participation of organized communities in public life. The main purpose of my research is to identify a relevant sample of these communities, pinpoint their trajectories, understand how they have functioned until now, and evaluate, as far as possible, the quality of life and the capacity of organizational autonomy they develop as well as the concept of democracy these organizations inculcate.

Major Publications

  • Del Viernes Negro al Referendo Revocatorio (Caracas: Grupo Alfa, 2005 y 2006 (2nd edition).
  • Protesta y cultura en Venezuela. Los marcos de acción colectiva en 1999 (Margarita López, coord.), Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2002.
  • EEUU en Venezuela: 1945-1948 (revelaciones de los archivos estadounidenses), Caracas: UCV-CDCH, 1996.

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