Over the last century, public intellectuals have been central to political discussion in the Western Hemisphere. Whether it’s Raul Prebisch, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rosario Castellanos, Abe Lowenthal, or Moises Naim, public intellectuals from the worlds of literature, sociology, economics and political science have had an outsized influence on inter-American debates and policy concerning human rights, economic development, and political change.
In honor of their legacy and contributions—and as an answer to the need of identifying new and fresh voices among the younger population—Global Americans is proud to launch the first edition of the New Generation of Public Intellectuals.
Our goal is to be non-ideological and focused on the individuals who are bridging the gap between research, expertise or activism, and policy and public discourse in their areas of practice.
The experience and research of the voices gathered here have started to transcend public policy discourse in Latin America. We encourage our readers to learn about their work and achievements and follow them through their future accomplishments.
Nicolas Albertoni is a Fulbright-Laspau Scholar at University of Southern California (USC), pursuing a PhD in political science and international relations. He received a Masters’ in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University´s School of Foreign Service and a BA in international business and integration at Universidad Católica del Uruguay. He is the author of two books on regional integration and development in Latin America: Instrucciones para inventar la rueda (2014) and Entre el barrio y el mundo ¿Mercosur o el modelo Chileno? (2011). His research interest includes international political economy, comparative politics and regional integration.
His most recent research project is focused on the use of social network analysis to explain the interaction between domestic and international institutions in making trade policy preferences. Albertoni is the principal investigator of the Trade Policy Project at USC’s Security and Political Economy Laboratory (SPEC Lab), which studies new patterns in global trade policy and its effects in economic development.
Follow Nicolás Albertoni at @N_Albertoni
Marisela Castillo Apitz is a Venezuelan journalist and Executive Director of the NGO Acción Humanitaria por Venezuela. She graduated from Universidad Santa María in Caracas, Venezuela; and while studying worked at Radio Caracas Televisión, the first TV channel that was shut down by President Hugo Chávez for maintaining a critical editorial line toward his government.
After graduating, Castillo moved to Mexico City where she received a master’s degree in political journalism at Carlos Septién García School of Journalism. Later on, she returned to Caracas and worked in the newspaper TalCual, under the direction of Teodoro Petfkoff, covering the National Assembly. Castillo also worked for two Venezuelan business magazines, Dinero and Gerente.
For three and a half years, Castillo was the host of the radio program Hoy No Es Un Día Cualquiera, broadcasted daily by Radio Caracas Radio, an independent, uncensored program.
In 2016, she created an NGO called Acción Humanitaria por Venezuela. The non-profit provides medical supplies and medicines to equip hospitals in her country. The foundation also executes the Nutriendo La Esperanza (Nurturing Hope) program, which feeds 340 children on a daily basis.
Castillo is currently publishing the book When the Media is News. In the book she recounts the attacks against Venezuelan journalists and media during the government of Hugo Chávez.
Mariana is the co-founder and CEO at Laboratoria, a social enterprise working to equip women with the digital skills they need to thrive in tech. With training centers in Peru, Chile, Mexico and Brazil, Laboratoria is preparing thousands of young women from underserved backgrounds to be software developers and placing them in tech jobs. The objective is to help these women transform their lives and to contribute to build a more inclusive and diverse industry.
For her work as a social entrepreneur, Mariana has received multiple recognitions, including being named one of BBC’s most influential women in 2016, receiving MIT’s recognition as one of Peru’s leading innovators under 35, and sharing a panel with President Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She is also an Ashoka fellow, recognized as a change maker for the good of society.
Before becoming a social entrepreneur, Mariana worked at the Organization of American States (OAS) in international development programs throughout Latin America, helping expand access to civil registration services in underserved communities. She holds a BSc in international relations from the London School of Economics and a Masters Degree in public administration from Columbia University in New York. She is originally from Lima, Peru, and is married to Herman, who is also her co-founder at Laboratoria. Together they enjoy life with their two-year old Lucia.
Read our exclusive interview with Mariana Costa here.
Pedro Cruz is a passionate activist. After participating for four years in student groups at Universidad Rafael Landívar, in 2008 he founded the organization Jóvenes por Guatemala, to increase low youth political participation in the country, as well as to propose solutions and concrete actions. Jóvenes por Guatemala has since then promoted young people engagement and activism on different issues, where security, justice, human rights and the democratic culture agenda stands out.
To further promote civic participation, Cruz then created Primero Guatemala, as the continuation of Jovenes por Guatemala, but this one for senior professionals, citizens and the broader public. Cruz has also promoted numerous initiatives and campaigns against violence and corruption, including the launch of an anti-corruption observatory titled “No seas cómplice, la corrupción mata” (Do not become an accomplice, corruption kills).
Cruz is also an active member of the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, as well as the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy. He has also been an speaker at the International Association of Political Consultant (IAPC).
Cruz graduated from the International Montessori School and holds a degree in industrial engineering from Universidad Rafael Landívar, as well as a Master’s degree in global marketing from the same university.
After flunking an English course, Felipe Dib convinced his parents to enroll him at a public high school in New Zealand. When he went back to Brazil, he became an English teacher, graduated in international relations and enrolled in post graduation in English as a second language courses. Dib also studied business at the University of Oxford and leadership at Georgetown University.
In 2011, after surviving a terrible car accident, Dib launched Você Aprende Agora, an English + Leadership course that has taught more than 30 million classes for students in 181 countries worldwide. By identifying the need of Spanish and Chinese speakers to learn English, Dib launched Tú Aprendes Ahora and You Speak Now under the same philosophy.
Dib was elected as one of the most inspiring youth members in Brazil by Revista Veja, and invited by the United Nations and the World Economic Forum to collaborate in the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. Dib was also nominated Global Youth Ambassador.
Follow Você Aprende Agora at @VocAprendeAgora
Read our exclusive interview with Felipe Dib here.
Javier El-Hage is a comparative constitutional and international law scholar. He holds masters degrees in international law from Columbia University School of Law and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. From 2006-2008, El-Hage was a constitutional law professor at the Universidad Privada de Santa Cruz-Bolivia, where he provided expert testimony on international law before the Bolivian Constituent Assembly.
As chief legal officer of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, El-Hage has taught legal courses and seminars as adjunct faculty at the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar (Ecuador) and the Universidad Francisco Marroquín (Guatemala). His research topics and areas of expertise include international human rights law, international criminal law, international democracy law, comparative constitutional law, and international investment law and arbitration.
Among his publications, El-Hage wrote the 2010 monograph “The Facts and the Law Behind the Democratic Crisis of Honduras,” which provided working definitions of the terms “coup d’état” and “erosion of democracy” under the Inter-American legal system. Both terms have been since adopted by the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2011 and the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General in 2016.
El-Hage’s opinions have appeared in journals around the world, including the Washington Post, Wired, Forbes, Americas Quarterly, and he is a regular columnist for Spain’s El País. El-Hage has appeared on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and is a frequent commentator on CNN en Español. Since 2014, El-Hage is an attorney admitted to practice in the State of New York.
Follow Javier El-Hage at @JavierElHage
Marco Antonio Fernández is a research professor in the School of Government at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) , and coordinates the anticorruption and education program at Mexico Evalua. Fernández specializes in political economy, particularly on education policy, decentralization, clientelism, transparency, corruption, and the challenges of good governance.
Fernández received his BA in political science at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) He has an MA and a PhD in political science from Duke University. He has been a research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC., a fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies from 2010 to 2011, and a consultant for different international organizations, including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the OECD and the Economic Social Council from United Nations. He has worked as an adviser in the Mexican Congress and Senate, as well as has served as senior adviser for the Office of the President and for the Education Minister in Mexico.
Fernández is currently working on different research projects, including an analysis of the institutions in charge of fighting corruption in Mexico, and the politics of education reform in Mexico.
Follow Marco Fernández at @marco_fdezm
Victoria Gaytan, program manager a Global Americans, Inc., is a U.S.-Latin American relations specialist, with focus on U.S. – Mexico foreign policy. Gaytan coordinated the Ford Foundation-funded High Level Working Group on Inter-American Relations and Bipartisanship and authored the paper on anti-corruption policy in the Western Hemisphere as part of the working group’s recommendations. In addition to her work at Global Americans, Victoria is a regular contributor to Fortune en Español, a consultant for UNDP’s Latin America and Caribbean Bureau and a volunteer at the Safe Passage Project.
Prior to joining Global Americans, Victoria led a multicultural consulting team that provided technical support and policy recommendations to the Government of Nepal and UNICEF, to formulate Phase 2 of the National Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan (MSNP) 2017-2023. The plan supports the World Health Organization’s 2025 Global Nutrition Targets to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition. In 2016 she worked at the Women Affairs Secretariat in the Recife metropolitan area in Brazil to support the implementation of policies to improve women’s health and economic empowerment, address domestic aggressions and reduce gender violence in the Jaboatão Dos Guararapes area.
Before moving to New York City, Victoria worked for the Mexican federal government helping coordinate national nutrition and social inclusion programs at the Ministry of Social Development. She also worked for MetLife Mexico at the CEO’s chief of staff team and collaborated as a professor at Universidad Iberoamericana. She holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a BA in international business from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM).
Follow Victoria Gaytan at @VickyGO
Juan S. Gonzalez is an Associate Vice President at The Cohen Group, where he leads the firm’s Latin America practice. Gonzalez previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, where he led U.S. diplomatic engagement in Central America and the Caribbean. He also served as Special Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden from 2013 to 2015, which included the launch of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue, the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, and the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle of Central America. Gonzalez was also National Security Council Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2011 to 2013.
Prior to the White House, Gonzalez served in a variety of positions at the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, including Chief of Staff to Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela. He also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala from 2001-2004. In 2017, Gonzalez was appointed by Senator Chuck Schumer to serve on the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Global Leadership, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a board member of the Washington Office on Latin America, and a member of the Advisory Board of Foreign Policy for America.
Gonzalez has an M.A. from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he is currently adjunct faculty in the Center for Latin American Studies. He is a native of Cartagena, Colombia and is married to Sarah Ashley Platts.
Follow Juan S. Gonzalez at @cartaJuanero
Freddy Guevara Cortez is a Venezuelan political leader and social communicator. He is a founding member and national coordinator in charge of the Voluntad Popular party and former vice president of the Venezuelan Parliament.
On December 6, 2015, Guevara was elected Deputy to the National Assembly for the Second Circuit of the Miranda State on behalf of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), the most voted parliamentarian of the election according to the official data of the National Electoral Council.
Guevara graduated from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) and is currently under asylum at the Chilean embassy in Venezuela after leading the wave of protests in 2017 against the government of Nicolas Maduro.
Follow Freddy Guevara at @FreddyGuevaraC
Andrés Malamud is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, where he chaired the PhD program in comparative politics. Malamud is a recurring visiting professor at universities in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, and Spain, and spent time as visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for comparative public law and international law (Heidelberg) and the University of Maryland, College Park.
Malamud’s research interests include comparative regional integration, foreign policy, democracy and political institutions, EU Studies, and Latin American politics. His work has been published in six languages over sixteen countries, in journals such as the Latin American Research Review, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Latin American Politics and Society, Journal of European Integration, Latin American Perspectives, and European Political Science.
Malamud served in the executive committee of the Latin American Political Science Association (ALACIP) and as official representative to the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), and is the current secretary-general of the Portuguese Political Science Association (APCP).
Malamud also worked as consultant for the Washington DC-based Inter-American Dialogue, and is a member of the advisory boards of the EU-LAC Foundation, Sciences Po’s OPALC, Brussels-based EUBrasil Association, and CAF’s European network. Malamud contributes regular political comment to newspapers in Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal. Malamud holds a PhD from the European University Institute.
Follow Andrés Malamud at @andresmalamud
Margaret Myers is director of the Latin America and the World Program at the Inter-American Dialogue, where she developed the online China-Latin America Finance Database, the only publicly available source of empirical data on Chinese policy bank lending to Latin America, in cooperation with Boston University’s Global Economic Governance Initiative (GEGI).
Myers has published numerous articles on Chinese leadership dynamics, international capital flows, Chinese agricultural policy, and Asia-Latin America relations, among other topics. Her co-edited volumes with Dr. Carol Wise and Dr. Adrian Hearn, The Political Economy of China-Latin America Relations and The Changing Currents of Trans-Pacific Integration: China, the TPP, and Beyond, were published in 2016.
Myers previously worked as a Latin America analyst and China analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense, and was deployed in support of Partnership of the Americas. Myers was also a senior China analyst for Science Applications International Corporation, a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and a teacher for Fauquier County Schools, where she developed the county’s first Mandarin language program.
Myers received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and conducted her graduate work at The George Washington University, Zhejiang University of Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University/Nanjing University Center for Chinese-American Studies. Myers is a Council on Foreign Relations term member. She received a Freeman fellowship for China studies in 2010 and a Fulbright Specialist grant in 2014 to research China-Colombia relations in Bogotá.
Follow Margaret Myers at @MyersMargaret
A social entrepreneur whose work has focused on addressing urban poverty, Soledad Núñez was named Paraguay’s Minister of Housing and Habitat in October 2014. The youngest person ever appointed a Cabinet-level minister in Paraguay, Minister Núñez has overseen a dramatic increase in the production of social housing for low-income households, delivering more than 30,000 units in rural and urban communities. Minister Nuñez is also working to transform the ministry from a housing-focused institution into a technical institution responsible for coordinating the implementation of the country’s New Urban Agenda. As part of that effort, she is leading the National Committee of Habitat, which includes more than 60 public and private institutions. Minister Núñez was also elected President of the Regional Assembly of Ministers and High Level Authorities of Housing and Urban Development for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015.
Before being appointed to her current post, Minister Núñez coordinated the implementation of a National Poverty Eradication Plan from the Technical Planning Secretariat for Social and Economic Development in the President’s office. Minister Núñez has also served as National Director of TECHO Paraguay, a non-governmental organization that provides housing solutions to the needy and promotes the active involvement of young people in the policy making process. Recently recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, Minister Núñez began her professional career in the private sector implementing social infrastructure projects in rural areas. She has a degree in civil engineering from the National University of Asunción, postgraduate studies in Project Management, and is an alumnus of the Global Competitiveness Leadership Program at Georgetown University.
Follow Soledad Nuñez at @solenu
Rosa María Paya
Rosa Maria Paya is a pro-democracy activist and has led civil society activities in Cuba since 2009. She was part of the Coordination Team of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación or MCL) and she worked as a member of Somos Liberación Council (We are Liberation), a publication of the MCL. She was also manager for the catholic magazine IXTHYS.
Paya has made appearances in several international forums since 2013, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Parliament, the Senate of the United States, the Organization of American States, the Summit of the Americas, and several national parliaments. Paya works to promote international solidarity with Cuba and seeks justice for her father, Oswaldo Paya, a recipient of the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize and a five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who died under suspicious circumstances in a car crash in 2012.
Paya currently coordinates the international campaign Cuba Decide (Cuba Decides) that advocates for the government to hold a binding referendum in favor of free and plural elections for the first time in Cuba in nearly 7 decades. Paya holds the position of President of the Latin American Network of Young People for Democracy. Paya has a degree in physics from the University of Havana and has participated in several programs at Georgetown University, including the Global Competitive Leadership program and the Summer Institute on the Constitution.
Follow Rosa María Paya at @RosaMariaPaya
Country: Brazil – France
Photo credit: Pedro Sotero
Manuela Picq is a scholar and journalist dedicated to indigenous, sexuality and gender politics. Picq is visiting associate professor in the Departments of Political Science and Sexuality, Women, and Gender Studies at Amherst College and Professor of International Relations at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), Ecuador. Picq has also held research positions at Freie Universität in Berlin (2015), the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2013), and the Woodrow Wilson Center (2005).
Picq is the author of Vernacular Sovereignties: Indigenous Women Challenging World Politics (University of Arizona Press 2018), guest editor of Indigenous Politics of Resistance (New Diversities, Max Plank Institute 2017) co-editor of Queering Narratives of Modernity (with Maria Amelia Viteri, Peter Lang 2016) and Sexualities in World Politics (with Markus Thiel, Routledge 2015). She regularly contributes to international media outlets as well.
In 2015, Picq was brutally arrested, detained and expelled from Ecuador for supporting indigenous demands. She was denied any type of visa to return to her family and work for over two years. During that time, she testified at the EU’s Parliament and the UN’s OHCHR on issues of indigenous rights and freedom of expression, then moved to Guatemala to work with Maya lawyers with the support of Front Line Defenders, Scholars at Risk, and Defenders at Risk. In January 2018, she was finally allowed to return to Ecuador.
Follow Manuela Picq at @manuelapicq
Pascual Restrepo is an assistant professor of economics at Boston University, where he teaches and is a member of The Institute for Economic Development. Restrepo completed his undergraduate studies in mathematics and economics at Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia. He then completed a PhD in economics at MIT and spent a year at Yale as a Cowles fellow in the economics department. Restrepo’s research interests span labor and macroeconomics.
His current research examines the impact of technology, and in particular of automation, on labor markets, employment, wages, inequality, the distribution of income, and growth. Recent empirical projects include a study of the impact of industrial robots on U.S. labor markets, a study of how the decline of routine jobs interacted with the great recession, and a study on how aging and shortages of labor induce firms to automate their production process. In other research, Restrepo has explored whether democracy fosters economic growth, and how drug-related violence affects Latin American countries.
Follow Pascual Restrepo at @pascualrpo
Julia Smith Coyoli
Country: U.S. – Mexico
Julia Smith Coyoli is third-year doctoral student in Harvard’s Government Department, with interests in Latin American politics and the political economy of education in developing countries.
A former Fulbright IIE scholar and Princeton in Latin America fellow, Smith Coyoli earned a BA in Latin American studies and educational studies from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) and an MSc in economics from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).
Her publications appear in Latin American Perspectives (forthcoming), NACLA, and the Journal of Undergraduate International Studies. Smith Coyoli is currently developing a dissertation proposal that focuses on the politics of educational quality and learning in Mexico and Brazil.
David Smolansky was the mayor of El Hatillo municipality in Caracas, but was removed by the Nicolás Maduro regime, disqualifying him from holding any state position. Smolansky was also issued an arrest warrant and was forced to flee from Venezuela after 35 days living clandestinely, crossing more than 35 checkpoints until he finally arrived to Brazil.
Elected as the youngest mayor in Venezuela, Smolansky’s administration decreased the kidnappings’ rates in El Hatillo, converting the municipality into one of the most secure and transparent in the country four years later. Smolansky is a founding member and Deputy Secretary General of Voluntad Popular, one of the main opposition political parties led by Leopoldo López.
A journalist from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Smolansky is one of the most known young politicians in Venezuelan, and a vital member of the student movement; which defeated Hugo Chávez’s constitutional reform proposal in 2007.
He has a master’s degree in political science from Simón Bolívar and participated in the Global Competitiveness Leadership Program at Georgetown University. In 2015, he was recognized by Junior Chamber International as the outstanding young politician of the world. In 2018, Smolansky received the Global Impact Award by Georgetown University.
Smolansky is currently living in exile and doing a visiting scholarship at Georgetown University.
Follow David Smolansky at @dsmolansky
Read our exclusive interview with David Smolansky here.
María Eugenia Vidal
María Eugenia Vidal, Argentine politician and political scientist, is the current governor of the province of Buenos Aires. Previously, Vidal served as deputy chief of government of the City of Buenos Aires during the second term of President Mauricio Macri
Vidal was elected legislator of the City of Buenos Aires in 2007, but her mandate lasted only six months as she resigned to become the Minister of Social Development during President Macri’s first term. In 2011 she was elected by Macri as a running mate in the re-election at the head of the Buenos Aires government. Macri secured a second term as mayor and Vidal took office as deputy chief of government, a position in which she fiercely defended both Macri’s policies and her political party Propuesta Republicana, or PRO (Republican Proposal) in matters of security and the use of veto power by Macri as mayor. (From 2007 until 2012, Macri banned around 100 laws, a decision harshly criticized by the Buenos Aires opposition legislators).
In 2013, Vidal began touring the province of Buenos Aires in search of positioning herself as the PRO candidate for governor. Vidal emerged as the candidate of Cambiemos coalition to the governorship from the province of Buenos Aires and on October 2015, she was elected with 39.89 percent of the votes and is the first woman to occupy the post.
Due to her profile and confrontation with teachers’ unions, Spanish newspaper El País newspaper compared Vida to Margaret Thatcher. Vidal holds a political science and international relations degree from Universidad Católica in Argentina.
Follow María Eugenia Vidal at @mariuvidal
Camila Zuluaga is a Colombian politician and TV and radio journalist. In 2008 she joined Julio Sánchez Cristo’s team at La W, a radio station in Colombia. Zuluaga also became the director and host of the program “Cardinal Points,” a TV program broadcasted through Claro Television.
In 2011 Zuluaga began writing a column in the newspapers El Pueblo de Cali, El Nuevo Liberal in Popayán, and El Espectador with a special interview section published every Tuesday.
In 2012 Zuluaga was awarded the Reporter of the Year prize from the Journalists Circle of Bogotá (CPB). The next year, she was invited by journalist Álvaro García to start the RED Más Noticias project, a newscast of Claro Televisión’s TV Day channel, broadcast Monday to Friday from 8pm to 9pm.
Zuluaga holds a BA in political science from the Universidad de Los Andes and masters in public administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Follow Camila Zuluaga at @ZuluagaCamila