Arturo Valenzuela

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Arturo Valenzuela
Arturo Valenzuela.jpg
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
In office
10 November 2009 – 31 August 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byTom Shannon
Succeeded byRoberta S. Jacobson
Personal details
Born (1944-01-23) January 23, 1944 (age 75)
Concepción, Chile
EducationDrew University (BA)
Columbia University (MA) (PhD)

Arturo A. Valenzuela (born 23 January 1944[1]) is a Chilean-American academic who was the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs from November 5, 2009, until August 2011. His confirmation had been blocked by Senator Jim DeMint (R, SC) due to a dispute over President Barack Obama's approach to the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis.[2] He previously served as Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.[3] He was previously Professor of Political Science and Director of the Council on Latin American Studies at Duke University. In May 2011 it was reported that Valenzuela would be leaving his government post later that summer to return to his academic activities.[4] He officially left office at the end of August 2011.

Early life[edit]

Valenzuela was born Arturo Arms Valenzuela Bowie in Concepción,[1] Chile to American Methodist missionaries Raymond Arms Valenzuela and Dorothy Denell Bowie Marsh.[1] He spent his childhood in Concepción where he attended primary school at the Lycée Charles de Gaulle, where he learned to speak French. In 1960, after his school was destroyed by the Great Chilean earthquake, he was sent by his family for a year to the United States.[1][5] During the next eight years, he went back to visit his family in Chile only once.[6] He earned a B.A. summa cum laude in Political Science and Religion from Drew University and in 1971 he obtained a Doctorate and a master's degree in Political Science from Columbia University.[7]

Valenzuela is married to Kathryn Mudge.[8] He has two children from his first marriage.[5]

Political and academic career[edit]

In 1992[5] Valenzuela was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs in the United States Department of State by President Bill Clinton.[3] His primary responsibility there was United States foreign policy towards Mexico.[7] In President Clinton's second term in office, he was appointed Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House.[3]

On May 12, 2009 Valenzuela was nominated by President Barack Obama as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.[7] The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on November 5, 2009.[9]

Valenzuela has been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University, the University of Sussex, the University of Florence (Italy) and the Catholic University of Chile. He 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 Americas Watch and the Institut des Amériques in Paris.[7] He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[10]

For his diplomatic contributions Valenzuela has been honored Brazil's Order of the Southern Cross and Colombia's Order of Boyaca.[7]



  • "Political Brokers in Chile: Local Government in a Centralized Polity"
  • "The Breakdown of Democratic Regimes: Chile"
  • "The Failure of Presidential Democracy" (with Juan J. Linz)
  • "A Nation of Enemies: Chile Under Pinochet" (with Pamela Constable)



  1. ^ a b c d "Los 16 años chilenos del hombre de Obama para América Latina". Reportajes de La Tercera. 2009-05-19. Archived from the original on 14 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  2. ^ "Obama and DeMint locked in proxy fight over Hugo Chavez". Alexander Bolton - The Hill. 2009-09-20. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  3. ^ a b c "Arturo Valenzuela's Biography at Georgetown University". Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
  4. ^ Wyss, Jim. "Top U.S. Latin America diplomat to leave post". Retrieved 2011-05-06.
  5. ^ a b c "La Argentina no sabe manejarse con los EE.UU". La Nación. 2001-09-02. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
  6. ^ "Metodista, transversal y progresista: así es el chileno más influyente del gobierno de Obama". El Mercurio (in Spanish). 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
  7. ^ a b c d e "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". White House. 2009-05-12.
  8. ^ "STATEMENT BY ARTURO VALENZUELA TO THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE" (PDF). United States Senate. July 8, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 August 2009. Retrieved August 1, 2009.
  9. ^ "EE UU confirma a Arturo Valenzuela como responsable para América Latina · ELPAÍ". 2010-03-18. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  10. ^
Government offices
Preceded by
Tom Shannon
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
November 10, 2009 – July 18, 2011
Succeeded by
Roberta S. Jacobson