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About José Gustavo

José Gustavo Arocha is a national security expert, specialized in analyzing civil-military relations, violent conflicts, complex systems, and counter-transnational organized crime. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Venezuelan Army, having fled his home country in 2015 after confronting the totalitarian regime. Living in the United States, Mr. Arocha has testified multiple times before the Organization of American States and has briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department about the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.

Mr. Arocha is currently a Senior Fellow with the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) leading the Venezuela Program and publishing regularly in the Transregional Threats Journal. He also contributed the Venezuela chapter for Desafíos para la Seguridad y Defensa en el Continente American 2020-2030, a book published by the Chilean think tank, AthenaLab, and has published articles in The Hill, Foreign Policy, and the American Foreign Policy Council.

Mr. Arocha graduated with full honors in 1990 from Venezuela’s Military Academy, being the highest scoring officer in his promotion group when ascended to captain in 1998. Following his forced resignation from the Venezuelan Army in 2009, Mr. Arocha founded a political consultancy, GeoFenix, that provided strategic advice and logistical services to high-profile Venezuelan dissidents and regime critics. In 2014, he was detained by Venezuelan regime security services under false charges of treason. He was imprisoned for eight months without trial, kept in solitary confinement, and tortured in an underground prison known as “La Tumba.” Since escaping captivity in March 2015, he has resided in the United States.

Mr. Arocha received his Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University in 2018, where he is an Edward S. Mason Fellow and a postgraduate degree in Organizational Development at Universidad Catolica Andres Bello (UCAB) in Venezuela in 2003. He is also a Research Affiliate for the Center for Complex Interventions, a US-based research organization.