Peter Smith is Professor of Political Science and Simón Bolívar Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He is a specialist on comparative politics, Latin American politics, and U.S.-Latin American relations. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Smith received the PhD from Columbia University in 1966. He has served in faculty positions at Dartmouth College (1966-68), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1968-80), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1980-87). 

Dr. Smith’s intellectual interests have focused on long-term patterns of political change. His publications include twenty books and approximately one hundred book chapters or journal articles. Prominent among them are: Politics and Beef in Argentina: Patterns of Conflict and Change (1969), Argentina and the Failure of Democracy: Conflict among Political Elites, 1904-1955 (1974), and Labyrinths of Power: Political Recruitment in Twentieth-Century Mexico (1979). He is co-author of Modern Latin America (1984), now in its sixth edition (2005); editor of Drug Policy in the Americas (1992); and co-editor of NAFTA in the New Millennium (2002), of East Asia and Latin America: The Unlikely Alliance (2003), and of Promises of Empowerment: Women in Asia and Latin America (2004). His most recent book is Democracy in Latin America: Political Change in Comparative Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2005). Recently he published a new edition of Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.-Latin American Relations (Oxford University Press, 1996, 2000 and 2008). 

In 1981 he was president of the Latin American Studies Association. He has been a consultant to the Ford Foundation (1984-89, 1991) and other institutions. He has also served as co-director of the Bilateral Commission on the Future of United States-Mexican Relations and of the Inter-American Commission on Drug Policy. From 1989 to 2001 he served as Director of UCSD’s Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies, and from 1994 to 2001 he was Director of Latin American Studies. In these capacities he raised approximately $3 million in external funds, developed collaborative research projects, initiated an undergraduate major in Latin American Studies, and established UCSD as a National Resource Center for Latin American Studies.