Laureano Vallenilla Lanz

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Laureano Vallenilla Lanz
Laureano Vallenilla Lanz.jpg
Laureano Vallenilla Lanz in 1905
Born (1870-11-10)November 10, 1870
Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, Venezuela
Died November 16, 1936(1936-11-16) (aged 66)
Paris, France
Nationality Venezuelan
Signature Laureano Vallenilla Lanz signature.jpg

Laureano Vallenilla Lanz (November 10, 1870 – November 16, 1936) was a Venezuelan intellectual and sociologist who occupied the presidency of the congress for 20 years during the Gomez regime.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

Vallenilla Lanz held a number of positions under the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez and was well known as an apologist for his regime. In his best-known work, Cesarismo Democrático (1919; English title: Democratic Caesarism), he justified the caudillo system by stating that due to the character of the Venezuelan people, rule by a dictator was necessary to maintain public order. In his view, this system was democratic in the sense that it was due to the "unconscious suggestion of the majority".[3][4]


Vallenilla was "largely responsible for developing a body of historical and sociological theory dealing with issues of race, power relations, and social development". He viewed "the popular masses as a backward and unruly social group" and argued that political leadership needed to be "exercised through the mediation of a popular strongman who would channel the energies of the masses during the transition to a democratic order".[5]

Democratic Caesarism[edit]

Specifically, Vallenilla argued that race had no biological basis and ought to be understood as socially constructed, particularly through political projects of nation-making. Vallenilla assailed the notion that racial purity provides moral or political legitimacy. Vallenilla posited that miscegenation was not only natural but in fact beneficial to social development (what he called “evolution”). Vallenilla was a fraught thinker, someone who explicitly owed much to Machiavelli and Bolívar for his idea of "democratic Caesarism".[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ von Vacano, Diego A. (2012). The Color of Citizenship: Race, Modernity and Latin American / Hispanic Political Thought. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 83–111. ISBN 9780199746668. 
  2. ^ (Spanish) "Vallenilla Lanz, Laureano", biography, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas. Accessed November 20, 2007.
  3. ^ pp. 15–17, Rómulo Betancourt and the Transformation of Venezuela, Robert Jackson Alexander, Transaction Publishers, 1982, ISBN 0-87855-450-5.
  4. ^ Leo B. Lott, "Executive Power in Venezuela", American Political Science Review 50, #2 (June 1956), pp. 422–441.
  5. ^ Aponte, Pedro Rafael (2008). The Invention of the National in Venezuelan Art Music, 1920–1960 (PDF). University of Pittsburgh. pp. 33–36. ISBN 9781109053203.