A globe, focused on the Western Hemisphere.

Davis United World College Scholars


Back to Stories Worth Telling

Taking on Political Risk in Venezuela

With her political science degree from Northwestern, Isabella Picón ’12 (Venezuela, UWC Adriatic) plunged into her country’s turbulent politics. She got involved in the 2012 presidential campaign of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, working for a consulting firm that advised the candidate. Through her country’s next several controversial elections, Isabella stayed engaged with politics, volunteering for and then managing “voter defense situation rooms,” which monitored violence and other compromising incidents at the polls.

From 2014 until 2016, she worked as an analyst and speechwriter for David Smolansky, who became Venezuela’s youngest mayor in El Hatillo. Isabella was also part of a team at the English-language public affairs website CaracasChronicles.com, which developed and produced the site’s first consulting report, on political risk. In 2017 she was heavily involved in Venezuela’s four-month wave of political protests.

“I always wanted to be involved in politics, but I started seeing myself more as an activist when I helped organize a voter-defense situation room for the 2015 parliamentary election,” Isabella says. “My father, Roberto Picón, a systems engineer who worked voluntarily for the Democratic Unity Coalition, spent six months in jail and is now under house arrest. Now I fully understand that in an autocratic regime you can’t have the luxury of not being an activist. Denouncing injustice has to become part of everyday life.”

Currently as a freelance writer, a researcher at the Political Studies Center of the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello and an activist, Isabella also chairs the board of Avemundo, the UWC Venezuela National Committee. Her efforts have focused on expanding the diversity of the selection process, turning the committee into a more sustainable organization, and setting up a fundraising system. “Selecting diverse, committed Venezuelans to go to UWC is my medium-term contribution to the solutions Venezuela needs,” she observes.