A couple of months ago, Harvard's Center for International Development hosted the second conference on Venezuelan Economic Growth 1970-2005. I'm really sorry I didn't get to attend, but I've been reading the conference papers (all linked to from the conference web page) and many of them are really fascinating.
Everybody who is anybody in the inbred little world of Venezuelan political economy research seems to have presented. We're talking Ricardo Hausmann, Francisco Rodríguez, Osmel Manzano, Dan Levy, Roberto Rigobón, Jonathan DiJohn, Javier Corrales, Michael Penfold, Francisco Monaldi and a number of others who are maybe not so well known, but are doing really high level work on why the Venezuelan economy tanked from 1977 onward.
Many different points of view were put forward (it was the labor laws! no, it was the clientelism! actually, the crappy financial system! no, the oil policy!) and your head more or less spins after reading a few of the papers. I would really love to interview some of the authors for the podcast...actually, thinking about taking that on as a summer project.
Have a look!