Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor

Maytha Alhassen

Second Advisor

Crystal Murphy

Third Advisor

Tekle Woldemikael


As Venezuela’s Chavista regime presides over the country’s descent into Latin America’s worst refugee and humanitarian crisis in modern times, a mass exodus of nearly five million Venezuelans since 2015, the rhetoric of Western anti-imperialists and the regime itself has absolved it of any responsibility for the crisis and the increasing authoritarianism that led to it by abdicating the regime's agency to act according to its own free will. This paper develops the discursive concept of nonagentic anti-imperialism, a rhetoric that effectively absolves self-declared anti-imperialist regimes, from Castro’s Cuba to Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka, of human rights abuses and democratic erosions by arguing that these leaders had no choice but to rule with an iron fist in the face of Western imperialism. Focusing on Chavismo, this paper analyzes the steps towards Venezuela’s democratic breakdown taken by both Hugo Chávez and Nicolas Maduro, the nonagentic anti-imperialist rhetoric that deflected the true intent behind these steps, and how those steps led the country to the manufactured disaster it finds itself in today. It concludes by positing that the legitimacy of supposedly anti-imperialist policies hinges not on the fierce rhetoric surrounding them but rather on the lived ends of the people affected by them.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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