Skip to main content

Arturo A Valenzuela

Title

Professor

Department

Department of Government
General profile

Portrait

Phone

+1 202-687-6665

Alt. phone

202-687-6130

Location

676 ICC

Bio

Arturo Valenzuela is Professor of Government at Georgetown University. From 1987 to 2009 he directed the Latin American Studies Program and was the founding Director of the Center for Latin American Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. 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. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University, the University of Sussex, the University of Florence, 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 and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from Drew University. He earned the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from Columbia University. He is fluent in English, French and Spanish.

President Barak Obama appointed Dr. Valenzuela as Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the United States Department of State, a position he held until August 2011, when in he returned to Georgetown. In that post he was responsible for the formulation and execution of United States policy towards the Western Hemisphere, from Canada to Argentina and Chile. As the country’s chief diplomat for the Americas he managed the second largest regional bureau at the Department of State with 50 posts and an operating budget of $376 million for FY 2010. The Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs has over 800 US Foreign and Civil Service employees and a locally engaged staff overseas of close to 8,000. The Bureau helped manage a foreign assistance budget of approximately $1.63 billion for FY 2010, excluding assistance to Haiti.

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 that capacity he advised the President and the National Security Adviser on foreign, defense, intelligence, economic and other policy issues and helped manage the formulation and implementation of multilateral and bilateral foreign policy initiatives in the Americas. In President Clinton’s first term, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs with primary responsibility for the implementation of U.S. foreign policy toward Mexico.

For his diplomatic contributions, he has been honored with the National Order of the Southern Cross by the government of Brazil and the Order of Boyacá by the government of Colombia. He is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Higher Education. A special 2008 edition of Poder Magazine listed him as one of the 59 most influential Hispanics in the United States.

Dr. Valenzuela is a specialist on the origins and consolidation of democracy, electoral systems, civil-military relations, political parties, regime transitions and U.S.-Latin American relations, and the author or co-author of nine books, including Political Brokers in Chile and The Breakdown of Democratic Regimes: Chile. His academic work has focused on the consolidation of democracy and the challenges of democratic governance and with Juan J. Linz he published The Failures of Presidential Democracy. His scholarly articles have appeared in edited collections and academic journals such as Comparative Politics, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica, Estudios Públicos and the Latin American Research Review. He serves on the editorial boards of the Foreign Policy Bulletin, the Journal of Democracy, Current History, and The Third World Quarterly. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and several academic societies, and served on the Conseil Scientific of the Institut des Amériques in Paris.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Valenzuela was a member of the executive committee of the board of directors of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), and a board member of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Drew University and Santiago College in Santiago, Chile. He served on the Advisory Board of Americas Watch. He was also a member of the International Advisory Board of REPSOL/YPF in Madrid, and a board member of Corpbanca, a leading Chilean commercial bank. He has been a consultant to Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, L.L.P. and several Fortune 500 firms. He is currently Senior Advisor for Latin America at Covington and Burling, a leading international law firm headquartered in Washington, DC

Dr. Valenzuela has been an adviser to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and served as a consultant to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. As part of his scholarly work he has served as an advisor on political and constitutional reform in Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. He has been a consultant to the Ford Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, Freedom House and other non-profit organizations.

Dr. Valenzuela has published commentaries in leading newspapers in the United States, Latin America and Europe, including a column for El Universal in Mexico City. His television appearances include ABC’s Nightline, NBC's Today Show, PBS News Hour, CNN, Fox News, Univisión, National Public Radio, C-Span, BBC World Service and others.

Education

  • Ph.D. (1971) Columbia University, Political Science

Languages

  • French (speak, read)
  • Spanish (speak, read, write)