Valenzuela Lays Out His Vision of Latin American Policy in the U.S. Senate

By Dialogo
July 09, 2009

Washington, July 8 (EFE).- University professor Arturo Valenzuela, nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. policy toward Latin America, will reveal today in the Senate his vision of what U.S. influence should be in this region, its challenges, and its opportunities. Obama nominated Valenzuela as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs on May 12 to replace Thomas Shannon, who will become ambassador to Brazil if the Senate confirms him. On June 9 the White House sent Valenzuela’s nomination to the upper house, which begins confirmation hearings today, as required by U.S. law. If confirmed, Valenzuela will be responsible for implementing the new U.S. policy toward the region, based on the idea of seeking more cooperation and less confrontation, as Obama explained it at the fifth Summit of the Americas. Valenzuela, a Chilean-American, is the director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. A specialist in Latin American politics and in U.S.-Latin American relations, as well as in the consolidation of democracy, Valenzuela was a professor of political science and director of the Council on Latin American Studies at Duke University prior to occupying his post at Georgetown. During former president Bill Clinton’s administration (1993-2001), he was a White House adviser and Senior Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, a position in which his primary responsibility was for U.S. policy toward Mexico. He has received the National Order of the Southern Cross, awarded by the Brazilian government, and the Order of Boyacá, granted by the Colombian presidency, for his diplomatic contributions. Valenzuela has served on the boards of directors of Drew University, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and the National Council of La Raza, among other organizations.