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Life and death in the city: Lessons from Venezuela


Latin American cities capture the best and the worst of human potential: they are sites of tremendous violence and insecurity, yet exude modernity and the hope for a better life. The 2016 book Ciudades de Vida y Muerte: La Ciudad y el Pacto Social para la Contención de la Violencia (Cities of Life and Death: The City and the Social Pact to Contain Violence) presents a compelling analysis of how violence and corruption co-exist with compassion and solidarity in the cities of Venezuela — and the lessons that can be taken from their experience. Cities of Life and Death presents findings from research led by Laboratorio de Ciencias Sociales (LACSO) in four cities: Caracas, Ciudad Guayana, San Cristobal, and San Antonio del Táchira.

In a series of 14 essays and case studies, researchers lay out the historical context and their framework for exploring the links between social institutions, violence, and exclusion in urban Venezuela. They highlight both the insecurity of residents and their struggles to make their cities safer and more inclusive — including the role of women as peacemakers and the ways in which children are socialized to accept or doubt the rule of law. Conclusions underscore that coexistence and social progress can be achieved despite the odds.

Read more on the book through the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence or purchase a copy through Amazon. (Available in Spanish only)

Explore the IDRC-supported project, Institutions for safe and inclusive cities in Venezuela.

Learn more about IDRC’s research support to make cities safer through the Safe and Inclusive Cities partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development.