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Arturo Valenzuela

Professional affiliation

Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

Full Biography

Dr. Arturo Valenzuela is Emeritus Professor of Government and International Service at Georgetown University.  From 2014 to March 2020 he was Senior International Advisor for Latin America at Covington & Burling LLP, an international law firm headquartered in Washington, D.C.

In his first administration, President Barak Obama appointed him Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the United States Department of State, a position he held until September 2011. During President William Jefferson Clinton’s second term in office, Dr. Valenzuela served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. In President Clinton's first term he was appointed by the White House as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs in the United States Department of State, where his responsibilities included global issues (democracy, environment, human rights, migration and refugees) for the Americas and, in the aftermath of the ratification of NAFTA, the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy towards Mexico.

For his diplomatic contributions, Dr. Valenzuela has been honored with the National Order of the Southern Cross by the government of Brazil, the Order of Boyacá by the government of Colombia, the Order of Mérito Civil by the government of Spain and was given a special recognition by SICA, the Central American Integration System. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he was elected in 2014 to membership in the American Academy of Diplomacy. Dr. Valenzuela has been a member of the executive committee of the board of directors of the National Council of La Raza (now UNIDOS/USA), and a board member of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Hispanic Council for International Relations, and Drew University. Until 2009 he was a member of the Board of Directors of Corpbanca in Chile and of the International Advisory Board of Repsol in Spain. Currently, in addition to membership on the Advisory Board of the Latin American Program of the Wilson Center, he is a member of the Board of Trustees of Santiago College in Chile and a member of the International Advisory Group of Luminate of the Omidyar Network.

Dr. Valenzuela has served as an advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a consultant to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. As a scholar he is a specialist on the origins and consolidation of democracy, electoral systems, civil-military relations, political parties, regime transitions, Chilean politics and U.S.-Latin American relations, and is the author or co-author of nine books, including The Failure of Presidential Democracy (edited with Juan Linz). His academic articles have appeared in edited collections and scholarly journals including Comparative Politics, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs,Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica,Estudios Públicos and the Latin American Research Review.

He has served on the editorial boards of Foreign Policy Bulletin, Journal of Democracy, Current History, The Third World Quarterly, Amérique Latine, Estudios Públicos,Revista Comparada deCiencias Políticas, Current History and the Latin American Research Review where he served as Associate Editor. He is a member of several academic societies and served on the Conseil Scientific of the Institut des Amériques in Paris. As part of his scholarly activities he has been an advisor on political and constitutional reform in Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia and has served as a consultant to the Ford Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, Freedom House and other foundations and non-profit organizations.

Prior to joining the Georgetown Faculty in 1987 he was Professor of Political Science and Director of the Council of Latin American Studies at Duke University. At Georgetown, he founded and directed the Center for Latin American Studies. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University, the University of Sussex, the University of Florence, the University of Aix-en-Provence, the University of Chile and the Catholic University of Chile and a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He earned a B.A., summa cum laude, from Drew University and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from Columbia University.