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Félix Maradiaga

Guest Speaker

    Professional affiliation

    President and Founder, Fundación para la Libertad de Nicaragua

    Full Biography

    Félix Maradiaga is a Nicaraguan academic, former presidential candidate and president of Fundación para la Libertad de Nicaragua (founded in 2010). In the late 1980s, as an unaccompanied minor, Mr. Maradiaga was forced to flee to the United States to escape the violence of the ongoing civil war. Based on the experiences of his childhood, Mr. Maradiaga has dedicated his professional life to public service and civil society work in the service of human rights, nonviolence, and disarmament. In the late 1990s he served as Director of the Office for Reintegration of Ex-Combatants, which focused on disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating 2,300 Nicaraguan guerrillas. He later went on to serve as the Secretary General of the Nicaraguan Ministry of Defense – where he worked to strengthen peace, democracy, and the rule of law in Nicaragua – and was the youngest person to ever hold that position.

    Between 2007 and 2018, Mr. Maradiaga worked as an academic, strategy consultant and social entrepreneur, in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the United States. In 2008 he was appointed as a Yale World Fellow at Yale University. His work has been recognized by the World Economic Forum (Young Global Leader, 2009); the Council of the Americas/Americas Society (Voice of the New Generation), the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (Gus Hart Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship, 2015), Forbes Magazine (“one of Central America’s most influential people.”) among others.

    Due to his outspoken activism, the Ortega regime accused Maradiaga of “financing terrorism” related to the demonstrations that erupted in April 2018. Following physical attacks and repeated death threats against him, Mr. Maradiaga fled the country in July 2018 and lived in exile in the United States for one year. On February 28, 2021, he announced his candidacy for the Presidency of Nicaragua as the candidate of the Blue and White National Unity Movement. The Ortega regime arrested Maradiaga for 611 days and banished him to the United States in February 2023.

    Mr. Maradiaga is the co-author and contributor to several books and academic publications such as The Axis of Annoyance (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) and Análisis de las Repercusiones del Socialismo del siglo XXI en la región (Centro de Análisis e Investigación Internacional, in Ecuador). He holds a Master in Public Administration (MPA), from Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Master in Renewable Energy Engineering (ME) from University of Barcelona. He is also a Yale World Fellow (class of 2008), from Yale University. He lives in Florida with his wife Berta Valle and his daughter Alejandra.