Forum explores crisis in Venezuela

April 15, 2014

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will host a panel discussion and forum, “Crisis in Venezuela,” on Wednesday, April 23 in the Lundeen Lecture Hall, Doudna 103, from 7-9 p.m.

Sponsored by UW-Platteville’s Students for Peace and Justice, Department of Social Sciences and the Social and Environmental Justice program, the forum will inform students and community members about recent developments in Venezuela, a country on the northern coast of South America that has a long history of political and social conflict between neo-liberal and populist groups.

The election of Hugo Chavez as president in 1998 was seen as a victory for populism, but his government was continually resisted by neo-liberal groups. When Nicolás Maduro succeeded Chavez in March 2013 after Chavez’s death, he continued Chavez’s policies and continues to face a determined opposition.

On Feb. 12, Maduro’s opponents took to the streets and demonstrated, demanding better security, control of inflation, a balanced budget and affirmation of freedom of speech. Maduro’s supporters blame the security and economic problems on the opposition and accuse them of acting as agents of the United States, wanting to destabilize Maduro’s regime.

“This topic is important because the economic and political conflicts in Venezuela reveal a lot about the interconnectedness of the Americas as well as the world, and we want to understand this interconnectedness in order to better understand the world we live in,” said Pommella Wegmann, a senior majoring in international studies and Spanish at UW-Platteville, vice president of Students for Peace and Justice and the organizer of this event.

Three UW-Platteville professors will make brief presentations at the forum: Dr. Mark Evenson, professor of Spanish; Dr. Melissa Gormley, professor of history; and Dr. Rich Waugh, professor of geography.

“This is a very important moment in history that illustrates alternative forms of political engagements,” said Gormley.

A question and answer period will follow the discussion. The event is free and open to the public.

Contact: Dr. David Rowley, department of social sciences, (608) 342-1788, rowleyd@uwplatt.edu or Pommella Wegmann, Students for Peace and Justice, wegmannp@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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