WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Webinar – Beyond the ‘Narcostate’ Narrative: Addressing Organized Crime and Corruption in Venezuela

9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. EST Friday, 20 March 2020

AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

Join us for an online discussion with experts on organized crime and corruption in Venezuela:

Friday, March 20, 2020

9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Watch online:

Tweet your questions during the event using the hashtag #WOLAVenezuela.

As Venezuela’s political crisis continues, state institutions have deteriorated and the country lacks an impartial, or even functional, justice system. In this environment armed groups and organized criminal structures, including drug trafficking organizations, have thrived. At the same time, as WOLA has noted in a new report, “Beyond the Narcostate Narrative,” political actors have exaggerated the scale of drug trafficking through Venezuela in order to argue that a peaceful, democratic solution to the crisis is impossible. What is the reality of organized criminal penetration of Venezuela’s state institutions, and what does it mean for the country’s political crisis? Join us for a discussion that cuts through the rhetoric.


Bram Ebus
Investigative Journalist
Consultant, International Crisis Group

Jeremy McDermott
Co-Director, InSight Crime

Geoff Ramsey
Director for Venezuela, WOLA

Moderated by:

David Smilde
Senior Fellow, WOLA
Charles A. and Leo M. Favrot Professor of Human Relations, Tulane University

Bram Ebus is an investigative journalist and consultant for the International Crisis Group with extensive experience in Latin America. He specializes in resource conflicts and border instabilities in the Andean region, with recent work focusing on illicit economies and border frictions in Venezuela and Colombia. In his reporting he gathers field-based insights and works on recommendations based on analysis of a wide variety of sources. Based in Bogotá, Colombia, Bram travels to border areas to identify and analyse crises both in their early and later stages.

Jeremy McDermott is the co-director and co-founder of InSight Crime. He currently runs investigations and field research in 13 different nations in Latin America and the Caribbean. He is based out of Medellín, Colombia, at InSight Crime’s principal office. McDermott has more than two decades of experience reporting from around Latin America. He is a former British Army officer and specializes in drug trafficking, organized crime and the Colombian civil conflict. He has an MA from the University of Edinburgh

Geoff Ramsey is WOLA’s Director for Venezuela, and coordinates the program’s research and advocacy in Washington. He is a leading expert on Venezuela’s political crisis, and has traveled regularly to the country since 2014. He is in close contact with key actors working for an end to the crisis in Venezuela, both inside and outside of the country.

David Smilde is a senior fellow at WOLA specializing in Venezuela. He is the Charles A. and Leo M. Favrot Professor of Human Relations at Tulane University and moderates the WOLA Venezuela Politics and Human Rights blog. His research focuses on social movements, human rights and culture in Venezuela. Smilde has researched Venezuela for the past twenty years, and has taught at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and the Universidad Católica Ándres Bello. From 2010-2012 he was the Chair of the Venezuelan Studies Section of the Latin American Studies Association.