Dinner Series: Venezuela’s Regime and its Impact in the Region

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December 3, 2019

At our second dinner of the semester, David Smolansky, OAS Secretary General Envoy for Venezuelan Migration and Refugee Crisis, talked about the root causes of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis and how he is working in exile to assist refugees through OAS. He discussed what might be needed for repatriation of refugees to Venezuela and the restoration of democracy and transparency to the government.

About the Speaker

David Smolansky began his career as a politician and a public servant when he co-founded the Venezuelan Student Movement in 2007, leading non violent protests against Hugo Chavez. He also co-founded the Voluntad Popular government political party in Venezuela, and became Deputy Secretary General of that organization.

 In 2013, Smolansky was elected mayor of El Hatillo in Caracas, at age 28, becoming the youngest local authority in the country. Security and transparency became the priorities of his administration. As a mayor, he led a decrease of more than 80% of kidnapping and was recognized internationally as one of the most transparent and accountable local governments in his country. In August of 2017, the Supreme Court, controlled by the regime, removed Smolansky from office after 4 consecutive months of non violent protests against Nicolás Maduro. He was forced to be in clandestinity for 35 days until he fled the country through the border with Brazil.

Smolansky is based during his exile in Washington D.C. where he was a Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University and was recognized with the GCL Impact Award 2018. He has been advocating to restore democracy and freedom in Venezuela becoming one of the main leaders in exile. Smolansky was chosen by Americas Quarterly magazine as one of the top ten people who will rebuild his country. Also, he has been designated by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States as the chair of the Office for Venezuelan Migration and Refugee Crisis which is the largest ever in the history of the region with more than 4.5 million Venezuelans displaced. Smolansky holds a B.A. in journalism and a master in political science, both in Caracas-Venezuela.