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Name: Valenzuela, Arturo
Current Position: Previous Assistant Secretary

To repair relations with this country’s Latin American neighbors, President Obama has turned to a leading academic who was born and raised in South America and has studied the region his entire adult life. Arturo Valenzuela is a specialist on Chile, the origins and consolidation of democracy in Latin America,, Latin American politics, and U.S.-Latin American relations. Even before his confirmation, Valenzuela became embroiled in a policy dispute over Latin American policy. In his Senate testimony, Valenzuela condemned the June 2009 military coup against the elected President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, as an “unconstitutional removal of power.” Apparently taking offense, ultra-conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint postponed the Committee vote on Valenzuela as a way of protesting the Obama administration’s stand against the coup. The Senate finally confirmed Vaenzuela on November 5, 2009, and he was sworn in five days later.

Arturo Valenzuela was born in Concepción, Chile, in 1943, to parents who were religious missionaries. He spent his childhood in Concepción, with the exception of a year in the United States as an exchange student. Valenzuela then relocated to the United States for his higher education. He earned a B.A. in Political Science and Religion from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, in 1965, and a Doctorate in Political Science from Columbia University in 1971, where his studies focused on Latin American politics.
Among his academic positions, the two most prominent were as Professor of Political Science and Director of the Council of Latin American Studies at Duke University, which he left to become 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 continued at Georgetown through 2009. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University, the University of Sussex, the University of Florence and the Catholic University of Chile. 
Valenzuela debuted in politics in 1987 when, at the request of future Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, he began to advise Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. In 1992, President Bill Clinton appointed Valenzuela Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs in the State Department, where his primary responsibility was policy toward Mexico. In Clinton’s second term, Valenzuela served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House. During the 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Valenzuela served as a foreign policy advisor to Hillary Clinton. 
He has also been an advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has served as a consultant to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. He has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Sub-Committee on Western Hemisphere Affairs of the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Sub-Committee on Commerce State and Justice of the House Appropriations Committee. He has been an advisor on political, electoral and constitutional reform in Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia.
Valenzuela has also served on the board of directors of Drew University, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the National Council of La Raza and the advisory boards of America’s Watch and the Institut des Amériques in Paris. He is the co-author or co-editor of nine books, including Political Brokers in Chile: Local Government in a Centralized Polity; The Failure of Presidential Democracy; and A Nation of Enemies: Chile Under Pinochet
A Democrat, Valenzuela donated $16,250 to Democratic candidates and causes between 1994 and 2008, including $3,500 to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama and $2,300 to his adversary, Hillary Clinton. He is married and has two children from his first marriage. 
Overview of U.S. Policy Toward Latin America (Testimony Before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, House Committee on International Relations)
Latin American Presidencies Interrupted (by Arturo Valenzuela, Journal of Democracy) (pdf)
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