Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures

Dr Rodrigo Acuna

Rodrigo Acuna Dr Rodrigo Acuña
Associate Lecturer, Spanish and Latin American Studies
BA (Hons), Dip Ed (UNSW), PhD (Macq)

Macquarie University
North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia


Rodrigo Acuña is an Associate Lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies. In 2013 he completed a PhD on Venezuelan foreign policy after having been awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) by the Federal Government. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Politics and International Relations and Spanish/Latin American Studies from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, as well as a Diploma in Education from that same institution.

In 2005 he was awarded the Benchmark Prize in Hispanic Studies by UNSW and was a runner-up for the literary competition Open Prose in the Unsweetened 2007 Literary Journal for his first fictional story 'The General's Dreams'. In 2009 he was part of the teaching team of Associate Professor Estela Valverde in Spanish and Latin American Studies that won the 2009 Learning and Teaching Award from the Faculty of Arts at Macquarie University.

With an interest in Latin American films Rodrigo has been a member of several discussion panels at the Sydney Latin American Film Festival. Engaging regularly in academic and community activities, he has presented research papers at various Australian universities and spoken at events held at the Latin American Social Forum in Australia, Movies at Macquarie and the New South Wales Parliament Theatre among others.

Rodrigo's research interests include Inter-American relations, Cold War and Post-Cold War Latin America, Venezuelan history and politics, human rights and development policies from a multidisciplinary perspective. Rodrigo runs his own blog at on Latin American politics and his opinion is often sought by the Australian media on developments in the region.

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Book Chapters

Acuña, R. 'Petrocaribe: A project for Development in the Caribbean and Central America?' in Luis Fernando Angosto-Ferrández (ed.), Democracy, Revolution and Geopolitics in Latin America: Venezuela and the International Politics of Discontent (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 67-86.

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Academic Publications

Acuña, R., 'From Allende to the Pink Tide: Issues Past and Present with the Left in Power', Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research (JILAR), vol. 21, no. 3 (November 2015), pp. 405-414.

Acuña, R. and Valverde, E. 'Can the Bolivarian Experiment Implement Transitional Justice in Venezuela?', Macquarie Law Journal, vol. 13 (2014), pp. 129-146.

Acuña, R. 'Competing Visions Past and Present for Latin America and the Caribbean', Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research (JILAR), vol. 19, no. 2 (December 2013), pp. 304-313.

Acuña, R. and Valverde, E. 'Venezuela: transitional justice and Chávez' in Lavinia Stan and Nadya Nedelsky (eds.), Encyclopedia on Transitional Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), (vol. 2), p.503-509.

Acuña, R. 'America's Backyard: The United States and Latin America from the Monroe Doctrine to the War on Terror', Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research (JILAR), vol. 16, no1 (July 2010), pp. 78-79.  (Book review).

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Media Publications

Acuña, R. 'Castro, la revolución cubana y sus lecciones para América Latina', Enero 2017, ALBORADA: Latin America Uncovered

Acuña, R. 'Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolution and its lessons for Latin America', Progress in Political Economy (PPE), Blog of the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney, 20 December 2016.

Acuña, R. 'Strength in Unity', Alborada: Latin America Uncovered, iss. 1, Spring/Summer 2015, p. 40.

Acuña, R. 'VII Summit Of The Americas: The New York Times Versus Reality', New Matilda, 23 April 2015.

Acuña R. and Angosto Ferrández, L. F. 'Don't write off Maduro: why Venezuela is not another Ukraine', The Conversation, 24 March 2014.

Acuña, R. 'Venezuela: same old, same old...', Latin America Bureau, 25 February 2014.

Acuña, R. 'Contrasting Perspectives on Latin America', Canadian Dimensions, vol. 47, no. 5, September-October 2013, pp. 44-45.

Acuña, R. 'Chavez's death: a Latin American perspective', ON LINE Opinion - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate, 8 March 2013.

Acuña, R. 'The dubious removal of Paraguay's former bishop president', Eureka Street, July 2012, vol. 22, no. 13, pp. 57-60.

Acuña, R. 'Cuba, the two blockades and more...', ON LINE Opinion - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate, 5 January 2012.

Acuña, R. 'The Captain Of A Sinking Ship?', New Matilda, 10 October 2011.

Acuña, R. 'American influence?', The Drum Opinion , Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC),  15 July 2009. 

Acuña, R. 'Petroleum and progress', The Drum Opinion, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 19 May 2009.

Acuña, R. 'Fidel Castro: His last days in Havana?', The Drum Opinion, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 3 February 2009.

Acuña, R. 'My Fellow Americans', New Matilda, 3 December 2008.

Acuña, R. 'Paraguay: how Lugo Méndez went from Bishop to President', The Diplomat, May 2008.

Acuña, R. 'Colombia: mixed messages', The Diplomat, January 2008.

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Media Interviews

Acuña, R., 'Crisis in Venezuela', ABC South East, 18 May 2017. 

Acuña, R., 'Así ven la Revolución Bolivariana en Sidney, Australia', Vicepresidencia de Venezuela, 8 March 2017.

Acuña, R., 'La importancia estratégica del pensamiento de Hugo Chávez', Venezolana de Televisión, 7 March 2017.

Acuña, R. 'Y en eso se fue Fidel ¿y qué dejó su estela? ', SBS Radio Spanish, 27 November 2016.

Acuña, R., 'Human Rights in Latin America Film Event 2016', 2RRR 88.5FM, 21 September 2016. 

Acuña, R., 'El estado de excepción en Venezuela', SBS Radio Spanish, 18 May 2016.

Acuña, R., 'La vanidad de 'El Chapo' fue su talón de Aquiles', SBS Radio Spanish, 11 January 2016.

Acuña, R., 'ANÁLISIS: ¿Qué pasará en América Latina tras la derrota del chavismo en Venezuela y del kirchnerismo en Argentina?', SBS Radio Spanish, 9 December 2015.

Acuña, R., 'Day of the Dead with Dr Rodrigo Acuña', 2ser 107.3, 31 October 2015.

Acuña, R., 'El Cine y los Derechos Humanos en América Latina', SBS Radio Spanish, 20 October 2015.

Acuña, R., 'Human Rights in Latin America Film Event 2015', 2RRR 88.5FM, 23 October 2015. 

Acuña, R., 'Cuba and the US, 'friendship' that will impact throughout Latin America', SBS Radio Spanish, 2 July 2015.

Acuña, R. 'Los desafíos que representa la "amistad" entre Cuba y Estados Unidos', SBS Radio Spanish, 13 April 2015.

Acuña, R. 'Gobierno australiano implementa medidas para evitar ataques terroristas', SBS Radio Spanish, 26 August 2014.

Acuña, R., 'Promoción del Festival de Derechos Humanos, PukaÑawi', El Mañanero, Canal 2 Red Uno Sucre, Bolivia, 10 July 2014.

Acuña, R. 'US stake in the Venezuelan protests unfolds..' The Wire, 26 February 2014. 

Acuña, R. Interview on the Drive program 702 ABC Sydney (Digital Radio), Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 6 March 2013.

Acuña, R.Interview with Rear Vision program 'Hugo Chavez, the unlikely president', Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 7 October 2012.

Acuña, R.'Colombian Government and the FARC rebels begin to talk peace', The Wire, 18 October 2012.

Acuña, R. 'Presidential campaign started in Venezuela', SBS Radio Spanish, 11 July 2012.

Acuña, R. 'Covering the Honduran coup', Listening Post program, Al Jazeera (London), 31 July 2009.

Acuña, R. 'Media coverage of the rescue of Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt', Listening Post program, Al Jazeera (London), 5 September 2008.

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Conference Papers

Acuña, R. "Venezuela, la Guerra Mediática y una Visión desde Australia". Embajada de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Canberra, 16 June 2017. 

Acuña, R. 'Venezuelan Foreign Policy under the Bolivarian Revolution: Its global impact & implications', paper delivered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, Caracas 8 March 2017.

To, E. and Acuña, R. 'The Magical State and the Red Dragon: Sino-Venezuelan Oil Cooperation or Rearticulated Dependency?', ILAS@40 - Past, Present & Future: Celebrating Latin American Studies at La Trobe University, Melbourne, 3 November 2016.

Acuña, R. 'My story & research: From 'Mi Tierra' to Australia-Pacific', paper delivered at the Research Bites: Ibero-American Researchers in Australia, Cervantes Institute, Sydney, 8 September 2016.  

Acuña, R. 'Venezuelan Foreign Policy & Latin American Unification: Pushing Back the Pink Tide', paper delivered at the Department of Political Economy, Sydney University, 7 April 2016.

Acuña, R., 'The History of Paramilitary Violence in Colombia', paper delivered at the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (NSW Branch, Lidcombe), Sydney 9 April 2016.

Acuña, R. 'UNASUR: Achievements, Setbacks and the Potential for South American Integration', paper delivered at AILASA 2014 Conference, University of Sydney, 4 July 2014.

Acuña, R. 'Venezuela after Chávez', paper delivered at LATITUDES / Latin American Research Group Australia, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 6 June 2014. 

Acuña, R. 'Chilean Foreign Policy from Allende to Piñera: Sovereignty, servility and geostrategic complementarity with U.S. power', paper delivered at 40 years is Nothing: History and memory of the 1973 coups d'état in Uruguay and Chile seminar, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 4 October 2013.

Acuña, R. 'Petrocaribe: Fostering development in the Caribbean and Central America, or plain old oil diplomacy?', paper delivered at Democracy, revolution and geo-politics in Latin America conference, University of Sydney, 12 October 2012.

Acuña, R. and Valverde, E. 'Transitional Justice in Venezuela', paper delivered at AILASA 2010 Conference, Australian National University, Canberra, 4 July 2010.

Acuña, R. 'Venezuela: The new engine for Latin American unity?', paper delivered at the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies and LAIRS, University of Sydney, 8 October 2008.

Acuña, R. 'Salvador Allende and His Legacy', paper delivered at New South Wales Parliament Theatre, 24 June 2008.

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Awards and Scholarships


Australian Post Graduate Award (APA) Scholarship from the Australian Federal Government to complete a doctoral thesis

Learning and Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University


Benchmark Prize in Hispanic Studies
University of New South Wales (Awarded for the highest mark obtained by a student completing a major in history within the Department of Spanish & Latin American Studies)   

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