May 27, 2021
Ricardo Vernet has received a 2020–21 Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES)—Doctoral!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you chose to do your PhD in the Dept. of Political Science at the University of Calgary?
I thought this department had a solid comparative politics stream. I also really wanted to work with Dr. Pablo Policzer because I knew he had done work in Latin America and the Caribbean.
You’re almost done your PhD thesis: what is your dissertation about?
My project attempts to explain the cause of the divergence in regime change between Haiti and Nicaragua. Haiti experienced a political transition when Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide won the first free and fair elections in the 1990s. But Aristide was overthrown just seven months after taking power. Nicaragua followed a similar trajectory, but the transition survived.
1. Eden Pastora nicknamed Comandante cero (commander zero) was a former Sandinista commander, famous for conducting a major operation against the Somoza regime in the late 1970s. He and a group of rebels held lawmakers captive for several hours until the government agreed to several demands; 2. Former party leaders Serge Gilles of PANPRA (the Haitian Revolutionary Progressive Nationalist Party) and Victor Benoit General Secretary of the National Committee of Democratique Movements (KONAKOM); 3. Managua (capital of Nicaragua). I really like this picture, the mural of Hugo Chavez, the former Venezuelan president is a reminder of the influence of the leftist movements that swept some countries in Latin American in the 1980s and 1990s (the left turn); 4. Northern Haiti during a trip to interview the leader of the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (Papay Peasant Movement) Chavannes Jean-Baptiste
Your field work turned out to be more challenging than expected! Tell us about that.
My fieldwork in Haiti was a success. In Nicaragua, things were more complicated. When I arrived in Nicaragua, there were protests, roadblocks, curfews, etc. I was advised by my contacts to leave the country for my own safety. At first, I resisted because I had invested quite a bit of preparation, resources, and time. Things got worse; my participants refused to give me interviews because of the situation. I had no choice but to return to Canada.
Any plans for after your PhD you’d like to share?
I am still exploring my options!
Congratulations to Ricardo Vernet on your 2020–21 Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES)—Doctoral!
To find out more about our paper prizes and past prize winners, visit Department Graduate Scholarship and Awards.