Venezuela: Is There a

Constitutional Solution?


A panel discussion on the current political situation in Venezuela

and on the options for a democratic, constitutional solution to the crisis



Click name to view bio:


Ambassador Jorge Valero

Thomas A. Shannon

Omar García-Bolívar

Sonia Schott

James Ferrer, Jr.




Ambassador Jorge Valero

Ambassador Jorge Valero is the Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the Organization of American States. Before his current appointment, Ambassador Valero served as President of the Latin American Parliament’s Social Debt Commission.  He has extensive service as a public official, including time as the Director of the National Border Council and as a Deputy in the Venezuelan National Congress. Ambassador Valero has represented Venezuela as Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.  He served as a board member of the Investor’s Fund of Venezuela and as Governor of the OPEC Fund for International Development.  Ambassador Valero was President of the Presidential Preparatory Commission for the Second OPEC Summit.

Ambassador Valero graduated from the University of Los Andes (ULA) in History and continued his postgraduate studies at the University of Central Venezuela (UCV).  He received his Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of London.  He has taught at the University of Los Andes and at the University of Central Venezuela. 


Thomas A. Shannon

Thomas A. Shannon is Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. He is responsible for all aspects of U.S. bilateral relations with Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, and the Caribbean nations.

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Shannon began his current assignment in June, 2002. Previously, he served as the Director of Andean Affairs (2001-2002) and as the U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (2000-2001). He served as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council from 1999 to 2000, and was a Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.

Mr. Shannon holds a Ph.D. and a Master’s degree in Politics from Oxford University. He holds a B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary, where he graduated with honors in government and philosophy and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.


Omar García-Bolívar

Omar García-Bolívar is Director of the Coordinadora Internacional Venezolana, the international branch of the Venezuelan opposition. His professional work has focused on advising foreign investors about business opportunities and regulatory frameworks in Latin America. He is a founding partner of BG Consulting, Inc., in Washington D.C., where he specializes in advising developing countries on public policies that promote foreign investment.

Mr. García-Bolívar has brought several cases to the Venezuelan Supreme Court to test the legality of presidential actions. He was a plaintiff before the Venezuelan Supreme Court in a case contesting the suspension of constitutional rights by President Caldera in 1994. He also filed a petition in the Venezuelan Supreme Court against President Hugo Chávez’s call for a referendum to write a new constitution. He recently filed a request before the Venezuelan Supreme Court to confirm the binding nature of a referendum.

Mr. García-Bolívar has taught at several universities, including the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello and the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Mr. García-Bolívar graduated “cum laude” from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He studied political science at the Universidad Simón Bolívar, earned a Master’s degree in Law from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and received his M.Phil and Ph.D in Law and Foreign Investment from the University of Edinburgh.


Sonia Schott

Sonia Schott is a prominent journalist and correspondent in the Venezuelan media. She earned her degree at the Universidad Católica Andres Bello of Caracas.  She has Master’s degrees in International Relations and Law from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and from the Hochschule fuer Politik in Munich, Germany. 

Ms. Schott has worked as a reporter for the Venezuelan weekly magazine "Momento".  Currently she works as a correspondent for CMT Channel 51 of Venezuela and as a U.S. correspondent for Globovision Venezuela. She writes the column "Venezuela en Washington," which is published on the web page of Globovision (   


James Ferrer

Dr. James Ferrer is the founder and director of the Center for Latin American Issues (CLAI) at the George Washington University. CLAI was established in 1992 to help expand the University’s Latin American Program; to stimulate the preparation of scholarly publications and articles on Latin America; to conduct educational training programs; and to encourage debate on major political, economic, and social issues affecting Latin America.

Dr. Ferrer was a director of VASP Brazilian Airlines, being responsible for the United States, Canada, and Asia. From 1986 until 1990, he was the Deputy U.S. Ambassador and Acting Ambassador in Brazil. From 1979 to 1983, he was the director of the Office of Aviation and Communication Affairs for the Department of State. Dr. Ferrer worked as a Director of Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon from 1975 to 1979. In addition to these foreign diplomatic positions, Dr. Ferrer directed the economic/commercial section at the U.S. consulate in Rio de Janeiro, served in the economic sections of the U.S. embassies in Buenos Aires and Santiago, directed the Brazil Desk at the State Department, worked in the Intelligence and Research Bureau of the State Department, and served in the administrative offices of the Latin American Bureau.

Dr. Ferrer obtained his Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of California at Berkeley, his Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the same university, and his M.P.A. in Economics from Harvard University.