Profesor Asistente en el Departamento de Ciencia Política de la Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

Investigador Asociado al GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Alemania

Investigo y escribo sobre política exterior, dinámicas e instituciones de seguridad regional, realismo neoclásico, y estrategias exteriores y roles internacionales de los petroestados

Actualmente llevo adelante el proyecto "Petroestados en la Política Mundial: Estrategias de Política Exterior y Seguridad", financiado por la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de los Andes, para el periodo 2019-2022


formación académica


Doktor der Philosophie (Dr. phil. / Ph.D.) in Politikwissenschaft (cum laude), Universität Hamburg, Alemania

Magister en Ciencia Política (graduado con honores), Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuela

Especialista en Derecho y Política Internacionales (graduado con honores), Universidad Central de Venezuela

Licenciado en Ciencias Políticas y Administrativas - Mención: Relaciones Internacionales, Universidad Central de Venezuela

artículos de investigación en revistas indexadas en Scopus

Paradox of Autonomy: Explaining Flaws in South American Security Regionalism

This article addresses the South American difficulties in the consolidation of regional security mechanisms, developing an explanatory model called the “paradox of autonomy.” This model was developed through the application of inductive and deductive methodological criteria, based on the observation of recent historical reality, in order to attain generalizable lessons from a relevant case for South American international relations. Also using rational analytical approaches that allow their construction within the framework of rational action problems. From the observation on the emergence and performance of the South American Defense Council, it was identified that the allowing conditions for a novel mechanism of regional (collective) autonomy for security, paradoxically offered opportunities for the exercise of national (individual) autonomy. The article concludes that, although the conditions for the paradox of autonomy are difficult to overcome in cases of security regionalism initiatives, there are possibilities to do so. The key would be in less ambitious institutional designs that recognize the inherent difficulties for institutional regional security cooperation in South America.

Mijares, V. M. (forthcoming).  Paradox of Autonomy: Explaining Flaws in South American Security Regionalism. Estudos Internacionais.

Filling the structural gap: Geopolitical links explaining the South American Defense Council


 Objective/context. In 2008-09, nascent Union of South American Nations, UNASUR, agreed and formalized the creation of one of its most ambitious bodies, its Defense Council. The origin of this council was surprising as some rival states, as well as others whose security and defense interests were distant from each other, participated in it. Its performance was marked by this contradictory origin, which resulted in its failure a decade later, in 2018, with the division of UNASUR. This article proposes elements for a complementary explanation of the trajectory of the UNASUR Defense Council, pointing out geopolitical links. Methodology: This is an empirical case study that combines quantitative and qualitative analysis of both national capacities and contemporary geopolitical trends. It also includes the review of official documents and the presentation of processed results of semi-structured interviews with South American diplomats and military officers. Conclusions: The main contribution of this article is that it shows how global (de)concentration, the geostrategic (re)orientation of the United States and the contemporary geopolitical dynamics of the regional institutions, form an adequate set of causes for a structural explanation on the origin, performance and decline of the South American Defense Council. Originality: Unlike most of the giving explanations about the fate of the South American Defense Council, and UNASUR in general, focused mainly on domestic causes, this article presents a systemic and structural explanation that links institutional and institutional dynamics. South American security with global processes of greater scope. In addition, it reaches potentially replicable conclusions in other regions and periods from a combination of quantitative and qualitative research tools. 

Mijares, V. M. (2020). Filling the structural gap: Geopolitical links explaining the South American Defense Council. Colombia Internacional, (101), 3-28. 

Performance of the South American Defense Council under Autonomy Pressures

 This article evaluates the performance of the South American Defense Council, based on the rational institutional design and the concept of the operability of alliances. The trajectory of the Council between 2009 and 2018, is examined through a theoretical approximation inspired by neoclassical realism and by applying the descriptive inference method of process tracing. The results indicate that in almost a decade, the Defense Council of the Union of South American Nations did not achieve full operability according to its institutional design. The evidence suggests that aspirations of national autonomy undermined the regional security autonomy project. The article affirms that the presence of a South American security regionalism problem resulting from national and regional autonomy tensions generated a paradox of autonomy. 

Mijares, V. M. (2018). Performance of the South American Defense Council under Autonomy Pressures. Latin America Policy, 9(2), 258-281 

Soft Balancing the Titans: Venezuelan Foreign Policy Strategy toward the U.S., China, and Russia

Premiado como el mejor artículo de ciencias sociales sobre Venezuela (2019), por la Section of Venezuelan Studies de la Latin American Studies Association

This article analyzes Chavist Venezuela's foreign policy toward three major powers, the United States, China, and Russia. Based on neoclassical, peripheral, and subaltern‐realism theories, it considers the Latin American duality between alignment and autonomy as strategic alternatives, and uses congruence analysis to consider the coherence between Chavism's geopolitical objectives and concrete actions in its foreign policy with the three powers. Venezuela's foreign‐policy strategy consists of three overlapping triads. In Venezuela–U.S.–China relations, Caracas assumes the power‐transition theory, aligning economically with the Asian rising power and serving as a gateway to Latin America. In Venezuela–U.S.–Russia relations, Chavism is politically and militarily aligned with Putin's Russia, taking advantage of the Russian–U.S. geostrategic rivalry. The most‐interesting and novel finding is in Venezuela–China–Russia relations, where the Bolivarian Revolution exploits a favorable economic relationship with China but aligns to Russian geostrategy, conducting a “softer balancing” against China to hold on to the partnership and to autonomy.

 Mijares, V. M. (2017). Soft Balancing the Titans: Venezuelan Foreign Policy Strategy toward the United States, China, and Russia. Latin American Policy, 8(2), 201-231

Realismo Neoclásico: ¿el retorno de los Estudios Internacionales a la Ciencia Política?

 Los estudios internacionales han alcanzado un importante grado de autonomía respecto a la ciencia política, y aquello lo demuestra su desarrollo en las principales universidades. Sin embargo, esta autonomía práctica dentro de las ciencias sociales tiene problemas para justificarse científicamente y cuenta además con un argumento débil en relación con el objeto de estudio. El auge del realismo neoclásico -fundada en la explicación de la política exterior y con base en la distribución del poder en el sistema internacional teniendo en cuenta la política nacional- tiene el potencial de revertir esa autonomía práctica al debilitar el argumento de esta. Inadvertidamente, el realismo neoclásico nos obligaría a revisar la autonomía de los estudios internacionales respecto a la ciencia política. 

 Mijares, V. M. (2015). Realismo neoclásico: ¿el retorno de los Estudios Internacionales a la Ciencia Política? Revista de Ciencia Política, 35(3), 581-603 

comunícate conmigo

Universidad de los Andes

Avenida Carrera 1 #18a-12, Distrito Capital, Bogotá, 111711, Colombia