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Democracy: Representative, Participatory or Populist?

In this course we will identify and analyze theories and experiences of the different modalities of democracy in the recent sociopolitical processes of Latin America. Political parties of the left, social movements and populist governments have argued the need to introduce institutions of direct and participatory democracy as a way to overcome the deep social inequalities and exclusions that nest in the societies of the region. These mechanisms would be expected to improve government efficiency, reduce poverty and ward off violence by strengthening community bonds among citizens and empowering culturally, socially or politically excluded sectors. Actually, participatory institutions can improve democratic quality, but they can also be used, as in the case of Chavez in Venezuela, to dismantle the institutions of liberal representative democracy, which guarantees pluralism and civil and political rights.

Students will review different theories of representative, direct and participatory democracy, including updates of populist theory as a form of direct democracy. They will select different cases, such as participatory budgets from Brazil, land committees in Venezuela, referendums in Uruguay, in order to deepen the characteristics and results of these forms of democracy.

Addressed to

Academic community, journalists, officials of the Colombian State at national and local level, diplomatic personnel, businessmen, and general public interested in the development of democracy, its results and its implications in the region.


General objectives

  • Students will gain a basic knowledge of the transformations that have occurred in socio-political processes of the region during the Marea Rosa and will learn to differentiate the diverse logics behind the different forms of democracy in Latin America, including populist experiences.

Specific objectives
  • Become familiar with a basic bibliography on this subject.
  • Understand the conceptual or philosophical differences that nourish the different models of democracy.
  • To know some experiences in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela.
  • Take stock of the state of democracy in the region.


The workshop-seminar consists of eight sessions of three hours each. Students are expected to read and discuss class assignments. We will also review some videos containing participatory experiences.


The course offers theoretical tools and a contextual base to understand the deficits of representative democracies, as well as understand the political changes that have occurred in recent times in Latin America, and that have led to talk about crisis or democracies in recession, and in the case of Venezuela it came back.


Margarita López Maya

Universidad Central de Venezuela - Universidad Católica Andrés Bello


Más información


Fechas: June 4th – 13th, 2019
Shedule: Monday to Friday, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Type of Offer: Course
Language: Spanish.

School: School of Political Science, Government and International Relations
Fees: $ 1,800,000 COP - USD $ 572 (approx.)

  • 2 UR credits (3,4 ECTS) – class finish on June 13th.
  • 3 UR credits (5,1 ECTS) – class finish on June 18th.


  • Early bird discount: 10% (until May 27th, 2019)
  • UR Community: 10%
  • International Community: 10%

Organizing committee

  • Francesca Ramos - Vice Dean, professor of academic career and Director of the Observatory of Venezuela of the School of Political Science, Government and International Relations, Universidad del Rosario

*Universidad del Rosario holds the right to change or modify the timeline and/or the speakers of the course.