On January 28, 2019, The Institute of World Politics invited Mr. David Smolansky to speak about the crisis in Venezuela today. Mr. Smolansky is the former mayor of El Hatillo municipality in Caracas and the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Soviet Ukraine who fled to Cuba and later Venezuela in 1970.
Sadly, given the instability in Venezuela, Mr. Smolansky and his wife desperately have been trying to get their family members out of the country. Mr. Smolansky served as the Mayor of El Hatillo Municipality in Caracas, Venezuela, where he pursued policies that angered the Maduro regime. His criticism of the regime's lack of security and transparency led to the Maduro regime removing him from office and issuing a warrant for his arrest. He spent the next 35 days escaping the Maduro regime by hiking through the jungle until he reached Brazil.
Despite all Mr. Smolansky has encountered, he was the youngest Mayor to be elected in Venezuelan history. While in office, his administration led to the decline of kidnappings in the area and helped to increase safety, transparency, and security.
During his lecture, Mr. Smolansky spoke about bringing hope back to Venezuela and, most importantly, to refugees. He expressed that Venezuela has a new interim president and Head of State, Juan Guaidό. Mr. Guaidό has been recognized by 40 countries so far across the world, including the United States. Twelve years ago, Mr. Smolansky and Mr. Guaidό met at the University of Caracas as students, where they protested for free media against the Maduro regime, led by Hugo Chávez.
Mr. Smolansky is hopeful for the future of Venezuela and wants freedom and democracy restored to the people of Venezuela. Mr. Smolansky regards the Maduro regime as a continual threat to the stability of Venezuela and the surrounding region. He believes that the sooner democracy and order are restored to Venezuela, the better. He candidly spoke about the majority of Venezuelans who are suffering from starvation, poverty, and a lack of access to necessary supplies like medicine. Despite the abundance of natural resources in Venezuela, such as gold and natural gas, the country is in the midst of the biggest humanitarian crisis in the region's history.
This event was organized by IWP Research Professor Paul Coyer.