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September 26, 2023

Democracy’s Future in Latin America

A Closer Look at Venezuela and Bolivia

Promotional poster with photos and names of the panelists

Latin America stands at a critical crossroads, where the struggle for democracy takes center stage. Join us for an insightful event jointly organized by the Latin America and the Caribbean Policy Association (LAPA) and the Latin America Leadership Program (LALP) at Georgetown University as we explore the intricate issue of democratic fragility in the region. In an era where the traditional left-right political spectrum no longer holds sway, the region’s political divisions are better understood as democracy versus autocracy. We will closely examine real-life case studies from Venezuela and Bolivia. Our esteemed panel of experts will dissect the challenges, root causes, and far-reaching consequences of democratic instability in these nations, providing invaluable insights into the future of democracy in Latin America.

Advance registration and GU ID are required.


Leopoldo López

Leopoldo López is a Venezuelan opposition leader and pro-democracy activist. He founded the Venezuelan opposition party, Voluntad Popular, and served as mayor of the Chacao municipality in Caracas from 2000-2008. In 2014, Leopoldo was arrested on trumped-up charges for leading peaceful, nationwide protests denouncing Nicolás Maduro’s regime and its campaign to undermine Venezuelan democracy. After a 19-month show trial, he was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison. López spent the first four years in solitary confinement in a military prison. He was subsequently placed under house arrest due to international pressure and outrage within Venezuela. Amnesty International named him a prisoner of conscience in 2015. Leopoldo escaped house arrest and was hosted at the Spanish embassy in Caracas. After a daring escape from Venezuela in October 2020, Leopoldo was reunited with his family in Spain, where he now lives in exile. Today, he continues to be a leading voice in calling for democracy not only in Venezuela but also across the globe. Leopoldo strongly believes that the World Liberty Congress will be instrumental in unifying pro-democracy and human rights activists to combat the global trend toward authoritarianism.

Jhanisse Vaca Daza

Jhanisse Vaca Daza is a Bolivian nonviolence activist and co-founder of Ríos de Pie, a non-violence citizens movement focused on human and environmental rights in Bolivia. Ríos de Pie (Standing Rivers) has played a key role in driving humanitarian efforts against the Amazon fires in Bolivia since 2019 to date and continues to educate Bolivians in non-violence resistance to protest the government. She is also the Senior Programs Officer at the Human Rights Foundation and a member of the Leadership Council of the World Liberty Congress. She specializes in nonviolence as a technique of mass mobilization for social & environmental change, with a focus on nonviolence theory as taught by Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas K. Gandhi & Gene Sharp. Jhanisse obtained her honors bachelor’s degree in International Relations at Kent State University. She completed the Nonviolent Movement Leadership for Social Progress and Leadership in Crisis executive programs at Harvard Kennedy School. She received recognitions such as the 2023 Sákharov Fellowship from the European Parliament and Peace Ambassador by One Young World and the European Commission in 2021.

Moderator: Eric Farnsworth

Vice President and Washington Office Head of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Senior public policy executive and trusted advisor to private sector and government leaders on global policy issues, geopolitical risk, and positioning. Strategic thinker seeking to understand and communicate the bigger picture to varied audiences, from Wall Street to main street, from the White House to Congress, from the intelligence community to the community of nations, focusing on the Western Hemisphere. Frequent media, Congressional testimony, expert witness. Skilled in International Government Relations, Live Broadcast, Communication, Media Relations, and Management. Strong professional with International Relations MPA from Princeton; BA with honors in Economics, Politics, and History; study in China and UK; and executive leadership development programs. Decorated by the governments of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Spain. "One of the good ones."