On Tuesday last, Dr. Arturo Valenzuela assumed responsibilities as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He takes over from Thomas A. Shannon who had visited Guyana on March 26, 2008 on a relationship-building mission, and held wide-ranging talks with Government of Guyana officials.
Dr. Valenzuela was previously Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is a specialist on the origins and consolidation of democracy, the institutional dimensions of democratic governance, Latin American politics, and U.S.-Latin American relations.
Prior to joining the Georgetown faculty he was Professor of Political Science and Director of the Council on Latin American Studies at Duke University. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University, the University of Sussex, the University of Florence (Italy) and the Catholic University of Chile.
During the Clinton administration, 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 and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, where his primary responsibility was United States foreign policy towards Mexico.
For his diplomatic contributions he has been honoured with the National Order of the Southern Cross by the government of Brazil and the Order of Boyacá by the government of Colombia.
Dr. Valenzuela has served on the board of directors of Drew University, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the advisory boards of America’s Watch and the Institut des Amériques in Paris. He holds a Doctorate and a Master’s degree in Political Science from Columbia University, and a B.A. summa cum laude in Political Science and Religion from Drew University.
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