WEDNESDAY, 10/6/2021 | 8:00PM EDT

Creative Dialogues
in a
Changing World

Implications of Cuban Social Movements


Wednesday, October 6th, 2021 at 8:00pm EDT

Hosted Via Zoom - the link and optional background materials will be emailed to you after registration


Cuba is no stranger to civil unrest and protests, though recent demonstrations in July rocked the island nation. Citizens flocked to the streets in protest against food and medicine shortages, government mishandling of covid-19, and the lack of civil and economic freedoms. Following a swift government crackdown on the demonstrations, the government instituted several new laws in response to the events. 


In this event, "Creative Dialogues in a Changing World: Implications of Cuban Social Movements'', we will explore the root causes of the protests and the effects the new laws will bring to the island. We will be joined by Mariakarla Nodarse Venancio, the Assistant Director for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), and María José Espinosa Carrillo, the Deputy Director of Center for Democracy in the Americas. 


The Creative Dialogues in a Changing World (CDCW) series lends a transformative discussion on complex modern questions in international affairs through intergenerational dialogue with experts and special guests specializing in a wide array of issues related to five themes: International Security, Global Political Movements, Rising Topics in International Affairs, Global Public Health, and Climate Change. This Foreign Affairs with Future Leaders-inspired series is hosted by the Onero Institute and the Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Fraternity at GW. The series will incorporate a mix of virtual, hybrid, and in-person events.



Mariakarla Nodarse Venancio is the Assistant Director for Cuba at WOLA and coordinates the program’s research and advocacy in Washington, D.C. As a lawyer and social justice advocate, her work has focused on U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America and promoting a policy of engagement between the people of the United States and Cuba based on mutual interest and respect. Having lived in Cuba, Italy, and the United States, Mariakarla is trilingual and experienced working across culturally different political environments to successfully guide changemakers through engagement and dialogue.

Prior to joining WOLA, Mariakarla was the Assistant General Counsel at Cancio Consulting Group, where she provided strategic leadership in designing advocacy and communications strategies to advance U.S.-Cuba business opportunities, and carried out advocacy efforts with key policymakers in Congress on foreign policy towards Cuba. She also worked as a consultant at the Platform for Innovation and Dialogue with Cuba where she led multiple delegations to the island and contributed to curating learning opportunities for a community of leaders who collaborate to advance equity, opportunity, and human dignity. In addition, Mariakarla worked at the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development where she designed and implemented communication strategies to capitalize on key opportunities and raise awareness on environmental challenges and climate justice.

Mariakarla holds an LLM in International Legal Studies, specializing in international organizations, from American University Washington College of Law. She has a law degree and a master’s in international and public law from Bocconi University.

María José Espinosa Carrillo is Deputy Director of Center for Democracy in the Americas. She has over ten years of international experience in policy research, advocacy, and global affairs. Prior to joining CDA, María José organized exchange programs between the U.S. and Cuba through DMC of Miami. Earlier in her career, María José worked as an International Affairs Analyst at the Centre for the Study of Asia and Oceania as the head of the Southeast Asia team where she researched and published articles and reports on economic, political, and social implications of U.S. relations with Asia and Oceania. María José holds an M.Sc. in Tourism and Environmental Economics from the Universitat de les Illes Balears in Spain, an M.Sc. in Economics from the University of Havana in Cuba, and a B.A. (honors) in Economics from the University of Havana.

María José was recently recognized by New America as one of the 2020 Latino National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including a scholarship from the Government of Spain’s Agency for International Development Cooperation and a Ph.D. fellowship at the Universitat de les Illes Balears. Fluent in English and Spanish, María José has lived and worked in Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

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Leopoldo Felipe Garcia is a third-year student at The George Washington University studying political science. He currently serves as Contributor for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Delta Foreign Affairs Newsletter and a member of Onero's On the Rise Podcast team. He is from Pembroke Pines, Florida.

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