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Vallenilla Lanz, Laureano (1870–1936)

Vallenilla Lanz, Laureano (1870–1936)

Laureano Vallenilla Lanz (b. 11 October 1870; d. 16 November 1936), Venezuelan politician and intellectual. Vallenilla Lanz traveled to Caracas at a very young age to take up engineering, but he did not finish his studies. After a brief stay in Barcelona, Venezuela, he returned to Caracas and mixed with the intellectual circles in the capital. He was a contributor to El Cojo Ilustrado, publishing essays on historical themes, which earned him a reputation, to a degree, as an intellectual. Vallenilla Lanz was named Venezuelan consul in Amsterdam in 1904 and remained in Europe for six years. In Paris he attended the Sorbonne and the College de France, which distinctly influenced his orientation toward the positivist trends of the era.

After his return to Venezuela in 1910, Vallenilla Lanz contributed to important periodicals, met President Juan Vicente Gómez, and became active in politics as a member of the intellectual circle close to the president. He performed important public duties and in 1915 became director of El Nuevo Diario, the official government mouthpiece. He conducted an important campaign in defense of the regime and in 1919 published Cesarismo democrático. In this work, one of his most important, he used positivist theoretical suppositions as a basis for analyzing the Venezuelan past and concluded by justifying the autocrat as a "Gendarme Necesario," or a natural outgrowth of the collective evolution of Venezuelan society. The work generated contrary opinions. It was translated into several languages and became one of the key works of positivist thought in all of Latin America. Vallenilla Lanz was a member of the Academy of History (1918). In 1931 he was appointed minister of Venezuela in Paris.

See alsoPositivism .


Federico Brito Figueroa, La contribución de Laureano Vallenilla Lanz a la comprensión histórica de Venezuela (1985).

Germán Carrera Damas, El concepto de la historia en Laureano Vallenilla Lanz (1966).

Nikita Harwich Vallenilla, ed., Cesarismo democrático y otros textos (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Plaza, Elena. La tragedia de una amarga convicción: Historia y política en el pensamiento de Laureano Vallenilla Lanz, 1870–1936. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1996.

                                        InÉs Quintero

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