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About Vanessa Neumann

Dr. Vanessa Neumann is an author, entrepreneur, diplomat, and security expert. She is the president and founder of the anti-corruption and anti-trafficking consultancy Asymmetrical. Dr.Neumann wrote Blood Profits: How American Consumers Unwittingly Fund Terrorists (2017, St. Martin's Press); the Brazilian edition, Lucros de Sangue, was published in November 2018. From March 2019 through November 2020, she served as the Venezuelan Interim Government’s official representative to the United Kingdom and Ireland.


In 2008 and 2009, Dr. Neumann observed and evaluated the reintegration of Colombian paramilitaries at the invitation of the Office of President Álvaro Uribe. Subsequently, she worked as a consultant to the US Department of Defense on asymmetric warfare and counterinsurgency. Dr. Neumann served for four years (2013-2017) on the Task Force to Combat Illicit Trade (TF-CIT) of the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development). She has also worked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Wilton Park in the fight against illicit trafficking and corruption, prior to her appointment to the United Kingdom. In May 2018, for the Counter Extremism Project, she co-authored The Many Criminal Heads of the Golden Hydra, an extensive analysis of illicit trade, corruption, and terrorist financing in South America’s Tri-Border Area.

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On February 8, 2021, Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, announced that Colombia will grant temporary protected legal status (TPS or Estatuto de Protección Temporal by its name in Spanish) to Venezuelan migrants for ten years. This decision has been applauded by the international community and has set a historic precedent for the region.


Please join the Colombian American Association, the Venezuelan American Association of the U.S., and the Wilson Center's Latin American Program for a discussion of the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis and the implementation of TPS. The conversation will focus on the impact of migrants from the standpoint of human rights, economic and cultural integration. Panelists will also reflect on the challenges of implementing TPS, the domestic and international resources necessary to support the policy, and ways that the public and private sectors can collaborate in integrating Venezuelan migrants and refugees.  

Meet the Speakers

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Adriana Mejía Hernández 

Vice Minister of
Multilateral Affairs of Colombia

Mrs. Mejía served as Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2006 and 2010. She also served as Vice Minister of Culture; Director of Public Security of the Organization of American States - OAS; Executive President of the Colombian Book Chamber; Director of the Institute of

Culture and Tourism of the Mayor's Office of Bogotá; and Director of Citizen Participation of the Bogotá Comptroller's Office.

Mrs. Mejía has also been a consultant for the Presidential Human Rights Program and the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace. She was part of the Advisory Commission of the Government of Colombia for Drug Policy Reform, and served on the Advisory Board of the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Foundations.


From 2015 to August 2018 Mrs. Mejía served as Executive Director of the Institute of Political Science Hernán Echavarría Olózaga. Mrs. Mejía holds a degree in Finance and International Relations from the Externado de Colombia University.


Dominika Arseniuk

Country Director for Colombia, Ecuador,

and Panama, Norwegian Refugee Council

Dominika Arseniuk is the Country Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Colombia, Ecuador and Panama. Previously she worked with NRC as the Head of Programme and acting Country Director in Uganda managing NRC’s response to the influx of refugees from the region. In the past she also worked for the Bangladesh Rohingya refugee response where she coordinated a forum of 130 NGOs and coordinated humanitarian response in DR Congo as part of OCHA. She managed emergency programmes inside Syria and South Sudan, as well as natural disaster response in the Philippines and the Balkans. Dominika holds a Master's degree in International Development and a postgraduate diploma in Humanitarian Assistance. Prior to joining the humanitarian sector, she was involved in human rights advocacy with Amnesty International, as well as in development projects in Africa and Asia.

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Lucas Gómez

Advisor to the President of Colombia on

the Colombia-Venezuela border

Lucas Gómez holds a Geography and History B.A. from La Rochelle University in France, an M.A. and PhD in Political Science both from the Paris Institute of Political Studies – Sciences Po Paris.


Mr. Gómez has over 15 years' experience includes working on several positions as an expert in public policy analysis. He has served as a consultant both for international and national Government entities such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), amongst others.  


Currently, Mr. Gómez serves as Advisor to the President of Colombia on the Colombia-Venezuela border.  Since October 2020, he has been in charge of coordinating government responses to the migration influx from Venezuela at the national and regional levels and integrating related efforts from donors, international actors, and civil society organizations. Previously, he was Director of Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Elizabeth Eyster

Deputy Representative for Colombia, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Elizabeth Eyster has more than twenty years of experience working in the humanitarian sector. She holds bachelor's degree in International Relations and Affairs from Wheaton College and a master's degree in International History and Politics. She joined the United Nations High Commissioner Council for Refugees as a consultant back in 1997. During her time, Eyster has worked in humanitarian assistance, management, and project implementation. Currently, she works as a Deputy Representative of UNHCR for Colombia.  

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Cynthia Arnson

Director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center 

Dr. Cynthia J. Arnson is director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  She is a widely recognized expert on Latin American politics, political economy, and international relations, including U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere.  She is quoted frequently in major U.S. and Latin American media and has testified on numerous occasions before committees of the U.S. Congress. 


Arnson is editor of Comparative Peace Processes in Latin America (Stanford, 1998); In the Wake of War:  Democratization and Internal Armed Conflict in Latin America (Stanford, 2012); co-editor of Latin American Populism in the Twenty-First Century (Johns Hopkins 2013); and author of Crossroads: Congress, the President, and Central America, 1976-1993 (Penn State, 2d edition, 1993), among other publications. She is a member of the editorial advisory board of Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica, the Spanish-language edition of the distinguished journal Foreign Affairs. She is also a member of the advisory boards of the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES) and Human Rights Watch/Americas.  She served as associate director of the Americas division from 1990-1994, covering Colombia and Central America.  In the early 1980s, as a consultant to Americas Watch, Arnson wrote many of the organization’s first reports on human rights conditions in El Salvador. 


Arnson served as an assistant professor of international relations at American University's School of International Service from 1989 to1991.  As a foreign policy aide in the House of Representatives during the Carter and Reagan administrations, she participated in the national debates over U.S. policy and human rights in Central and South America.