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Other Conference Presentations

Tyler Talbert, International Studies
Southwest Conference of Latin American Studies, March 2010
Dr. Joan Supplee, advisor

Juan Domingo Peron and Hugo Chavez Frias: The Evolution of the Latin American
Authoritarian and the Longevity of the Populist

This work contends that these two leaders, Argentina's Peron and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, embody the ideals of populism and are manifestations of the recurring trend of Latin American authoritarianism. This project demonstrates that populism emerged from the leadership style prevalent in the period after independence known as caudillismo. The research then examines how populist leaders and the political style of populism have persisted for nearly a century. Using Peron and Chavez as examples, this study contends that populism appears in societies with similar social, political, and economic voids. The two leaders filled those voids by carefully constructing "patron-client sets." They became legitimate benefactors, utilizing nationalist rhetoric, and demonstrating their revolutionary and independent stances. This study finds that the populist's patron-client set transcends the exchange of goods for votes. The crux of the populist's longevity is social programs; by providing an improved quality of life, the populist inspires long-lasting fidelity. As a result of this analysis, populism's salient features can be isolated and examined, a cogent study of present populist leaders can be conducted, and more reasoned inferences can be made about the future of Latin American populist regimes.