Crisis in the Andes: Why Venezuela is Different

by Kelley Reardon

As part of the Wednesdays at the Center series, Keith Mines to give a lecture named “Crisis in the Andes: Why Venezuela is Different”. Mines currently serves as Director of Andean Affairs in the State Department with responsibility for managing U.S. relations with Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.


The John Hope Franklin Center and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies co-hosted the event, which discussed what makes the Venezuelan crisis different from other crises.


During the 1970s oil was discovered, and Venezuela became one of the largest oil producers in the world. Mines spoke about how there have been political problems embedded in the Venezuelan government since the rise of oil production. Mines describes the current conflict as “one of the few crises in the world today that is completely unnecessary,” and as “a purely self-inflicted wound.”

Patrick Duddy and Keith Mines take questions from the audience.

Keith Mines and Patrick Duddy field questions from the audience.

Venezuela eventually succumbed to intense corruption, as Mines stated, “[there has been] no period in history where you have that much corruption, on that scale, by one entity.” Mines pointed out that it was “unprecedented” that so many Venezuelans fled the country despite its recent status as middle class. He also stated that it was “quite an inspiring case of other countries taking in the Venezuelans that have been fleeing.”


Venezuela’s government became so embedded with corruption that it now relies on its own dysfunctional economy as a requirement to maintain political control. Mines stated that it is “a system and web to keep as many people dependent on the government as possible.” Meanwhile, presidential controversies between different leaders such as Juan Guaidó (partially recognized interim President of Venezuela) and Nicolás Maduro (disputed President of Venezuela) contribute to the complexity of the situation.


Two main features that set Venezuela apart from other crises include its regional support and the fact that other countries are so willing to intervene. Another main feature is the role of American policy in the crisis. There is no American military involvement. The Venezuelan crisis will require time and patience to mend. Mines believes that “these things don’t last forever… it’s not a normal way to live for them or for anyone else.”

Development and Africa – Spring 2019

Course Number: AAAS 307, CULANTH 307, PUBPOL 207, ICS 308

Course Attribute: CCI, CZ, SS

Course Description:

This course addresses the vexed issue of economic development in Africa with its many failures and occasional successes from the early colonial period to the present. Course materials focus especially on the transition from the 1960s “modernizing” moment to the millennium projects and humanitarian aid of the present. Students will read the works of development experts, World Bank executives, anthropologists, and historians, asking why this massively financed project has experienced such failure and exploring what can be done.

Charles PiotFaculty Biography:

Charlie Piot, Ph.D. University of Virginia 1986, Chair and Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies, does research on the political economy and history of rural West Africa. His first book, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999), attempted to retheorize a classic out-of-the-way place as within the modern and the global. His recent book, Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War (2010), explores shifts in Togolese political culture during the 1990s, a time when the NGOs and charismatic churches take over the biopolitical, reorganizing social and political life in the absence of the state.  His current project is on Togolese who apply for and attempt to game the US Diversity Visa Lottery. 


Development and Africa

African Economic Development – Spring 2019

Course Number: ECON 347

Course Attributes: R, SS, W

Course Description: 

Today, Africa presents two seemingly contradictory faces. As a continent, the economy has been growing briskly. It is in process of transformation with modern infrastructure and glittering megacities. Investors from Europe, China and elsewhere flock to Africa. Yet, in the South of Sahel, about 40% of the population remains in stinging poverty, deprived of many basic needs such as education, healthcare, and electricity. Ethnic and religious contestations continue to create an undercurrent of social and political instability, and malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases take an unacceptably large number of lives. While the African economy is still small relative to the rest of the world, Africa’s future – the “last frontier” of the global economy – cannot be ignored. This course studies economic development in sub-Saharan Africa since independence, with a focus on challenges that the continent faces at present in shaping an inclusive future. It will be taught from the perspectives of policymaker and practitioner, supported by the relevant academic literature.
Hiro HinoFaculty Biography:
Prof. Hiroyuki Hino, a native of Japan, began his professional career as an economist in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1975, after receiving his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Rochester. At the IMF, he held various positions, including Division Chief and Assistant Director in the Policy Development and Review Department; Resident Representative to the Philippines; Assistant Director and Senior Advisor in the African Department; and finally, Director of the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. During his tenure at the IMF, he participated in the formation of IMF policies on the external indebtedness of developing countries and the establishment of the IMF lending facility for low-income countries. In addition, he took part in negotiations of the IMF financial assistance program with a number of countries, including Thailand, India, China, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Nigeria. He retired from the IMF in 2006 and returned to Japan.
Back in Japan, Hino joined Kobe University as Professor of Economics at its Research Institute of Economics and Business Administration (RIEB). He was commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2007 to undertake a large-scale, interdisciplinary study of “Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa”. He established a team of prominent scholars in economics, history, political science, and anthropology from Africa, Europe, the US, and Japan to undertake this task. The study’s main findings were published as a collective volume (Hino et al, Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa: Inter-Disciplinary Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, 2012). He was also commissioned by JICA in 2011 to conduct a comprehensive study on the Challenges of Youth and Employment in Africa as the background for the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in 2013. The report’s summary was presented as a Policy Brief in a TICAD high-level panel discussion; the panelists consisted of the Presidents of three African countries (South Africa, Tanzania, and Gabon) and three development agencies (the World Bank, African Development Bank and JICA), as well as the Executive Director of J-PAL at MIT. The papers prepared for this study were published as a collective volume (Hino and Ranis, Youth and Employment in Sub-Sahara Africa: Working But Poor, Routledge 2013). Hino retired from Kobe University in 2015 and continues to hold an honorary position of Research Fellow.
Hino was the Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Kenya during 2009–2013 and the Senior Advisor to the Presidency of Kenya for Strategic Initiatives and Economy during 2013–2014 on special assignment from Kobe University and as a JICA expert. During these periods, he was involved in a wide range of economic policy issues, including unemployment, devolution, drought emergency, promotion of renewable energy, sustainability of natural resources, and others. In addition, he carefully studied the issues of ethnicity, horizontal inequality and social cohesion in Kenya, supporting a major study by the Kenya Institute of Public Policy, Research, and Analysis (KIPPRA).
After completing his assignments in Kenya, Hino moved to Yale University as a Visiting Professor (2014–2015), where he taught a course on the challenges of Africa’s economic transformation. He subsequently moved to the University of Cape Town (UCT) as a Visiting Professor at the Southern Africa Labour & Development Research Unit (SALDRU), a position he still holds. At UCT, he took part in its Poverty and Inequality Initiative (PII) and engaged in research on poverty, inequality and social cohesion in South Africa and, more broadly, in sub-Saharan Africa. His most recent work in this area is presented in a SALDRU working paper, “Identity, Inequality and Social Contestation in the Post-Apartheid South Africa”, for which he is a co-author: is external). This paper will be published as a chapter in Hino et al, From Divided Pasts to Cohesive Futures? Reflections on Africa, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

China’s Innovation Challenge: Overcoming the Middle-Income Trap

Professor Emeritus Arie Lewin will present his theories on China’s innovation challenge during the Wednesdays at the Center series on February 24, 2016 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm. The lecture will focus on the work of Lewin forthcoming edited volume, “China’s Innovation Challenge: Overcoming the Middle-Income Trap” (Cambridge University Press, 2016)

Professor Lewin taught in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Lewin’s research interests include firm wealth creation in chaotic environments through strategies of exploitation and exploration, coevolution of organizations and their environments,  and designing the super adaptive firm.


Watch Lewin’s introduction video to China’s Innovation Challenge:


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