John Biehl

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John Biehl del Río
Ambassador to the United States for Chile
In office
1 August 1994 – 31 July 1998
PresidentEduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
Preceded byPatricio Silva Echeñique
Succeeded byGenaro Arriagada Herrera
Minister Secretary-General of the Presidency
In office
1 August 1998 – 22 June 1999
PresidentEduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
Preceded byJuan Villarzú Rohde
Succeeded byJosé Miguel Insulza Salinas
Personal details
Born (1939-08-26) August 26, 1939 (age 79)
Valparaíso, Chile
Political partyIndependent, allied with Christian Democrat Party of Chile
Spouse(s)Gloria Navarrete Borgoño
ChildrenJuan Ignacio, María Loreto, Luis Felipe, María Cristina, Paulina y Oscar
Alma materUniversidad Católica de Valparaíso
ProfessionLawyer and political scientist

John Henry Biehl del Río (/ˈbl/; born 26 August 1939) is a Chilean lawyer, political scientist, and diplomat who served as the cabinet-level Minister Secretary-General of the Presidency for Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle's administration.[1]

Early life[edit]

Biehl is of Danish ancestry. He studied law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso in his home city, and later national development in the Netherlands, and finally political science at the University of Essex, where he received his Master's degree.[1]

Biehl was the founder and director of the Institute of Political Science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.[1]

Diplomatic and political career[edit]

Although Biehl had never registered for any political party, he is considered more of a Christian Democrat due to his exile after the 1973 Chilean coup d'état and Pinochet's rise to power. He gained diplomatic experience acting as an advisor to various governments. These included that of Óscar Arias in Costa Rica, where he worked as a policymaker and speechwriter; The New York Times referred to him as Arias' "closest confidant" and "alter ego". Biehl also led the successful campaign for Arias' 1987 Nobel Peace Prize.[2] As a United Nations official working for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Biehl also lived in Honduras, Mexico, and Panama.[3] However, Biehl was forced out of the UN in 1987 after demands by the United States government, due to unhappiness in the Reagan administration over his part in Arias' opposition to funding of the Contras.[2][4]

During the administration of President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Biehl was appointed Chile's ambassador to the United States.[3] He was then appointed Minister Secretary-General of the Presidency, a cabinet-level role which serves as the link between the executive and the legislative.[5] He served from 1998 to 1999.

After the government[edit]

Currently, Biehl works for the Organization of American States (OAS), in the Department of Political Affairs. Among other things, he was named by the Secretary General, fellow Chilean José Miguel Insulza, special envoy to direct the mission to observe the regional and presidential elections in Nicaragua, conducted March 5 through November 5, 2006.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c El Mercurio (Santiago), 31 May 1994, p.C2
  2. ^ a b Stephen Kinzer and Robert Pear (1988-08-07). "Officials Assert U.S. Is Trying To Weaken Costa Rica Chief". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b El Mercurio (Santiago), 24 July 1994, p.D2
  4. ^ Martha Honey (1994), Hostile Acts: U.S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s, University Press of Florida, ISBN 0-8130-1249-X, ISBN 978-0-8130-1249-0, pages 74-75
  5. ^ El Mercurio (Santiago), 1 August 1998, p.A1
  6. ^ Revista Envío
  7. ^ Organización de los Estados Americanos

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Patricio Silva Echeñique
Ambassador to the United States for Chile
1 August 1994 - 31 July 1998
Succeeded by
Genaro Arriagada Herrera
Preceded by
Juan Villarzú Rohde
Minister Secretary-General of the Presidency
1 August 1998 - 22 June 1999
Succeeded by
José Miguel Insulza Salinas