José Miguel Insulza

José Miguel Insulza

José Miguel Insulza Salinas (born June 2, 1943) is a Chilean politician and statesman, and a member of the Socialist Party of Chile. He is currently (since May 26 2005) the Secretary General of the Organization of American States. He is nicknamed "El Panzer", for his tank-like drive and reputation for charging hard in whatever endeavor he takes on. [ [,8599,1720012,00.html?xid=feed-cnn-topics Refereeing the Colombia Standoff - TIME ] ] [ [ Embassy of Chile, Washington, DC &copy 2005 ] ] He is married to Mexican Georgina Núñez Reyes and has three children.

Life and career

Early life

Insulza attended St George's College, an elite English school in Santiago, Chile. He showed interest in public service while studying law at the University of Chile, where he was vice president of the students' federation. After graduating from law school, he obtained a graduate degree from the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty (FLACSO) and a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan, United States. He was professor of Political Theory at the University of Chile and of Political Science at the Catholic University in Chile until 1973. He was also Political Advisor to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Chile until 1973.

Exile in Mexico

Insulza lived in Mexico, where he was exiled, from 1981 to 1988, doing research and then working as the Director of the United States Studies Institute in the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE). He was a professor at Mexico's Universidad Nacional Autónoma, the Universidad Iberoamericana, and the Diplomatic Studies Institute. He has penned numerous publications in his field.

Return to Chile

Insulza was appointed Chilean Ambassador for International Cooperation in 1990, Director of Multilateral Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Vice President of the International Cooperation Agency (AGCI). He was Member of the Chilean Association of Political Science, the Bar Association, and the Chilean Council of International Relations.

On March 11, 1994 Insulza took office as Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs. In September 20 of that year he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. On June 22, 1999 he was appointed Minister Secretary General of the Office of the President. On March 11, 2000 he took office as Minister of the Interior of Chile (Vice President of the Republic).

OAS chief

Insulza was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States on May 2 2005 following the withdrawal from the race of Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez. ("See" OAS Secretary General election, 2005.)

On January 5 2007 Insulza criticized Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez's decision not to renew television channel RCTV's broadcast license (Chávez had accused the station of being a "golpista"—a coup d'état instigator. [ [ BBC World Service | World Agenda - Global Warning ] ] ) Three days later Chávez responded to Insulza by calling for his resignation and referring to him as a "pendejo"—a Spanish colloquialism meaning idiot. [ [ Chavez to nationalize electric, telecom companies ] ] Insulza later received the support of almost all the OAS members, including the US, and Chávez conceded he had gone too far with his words. On April 2008 Chávez congratulated Insulza for stating in a presentation before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere that there was no evidence linking Venezuela to terrorist groups.

Insulza has been criticized by some Chilean politicians of using his post as OAS Secretary General as a launching pad for a future candidacy as President of Chile, citing his frequent visits to Chile and constant commentary on Chilean politics as a way to maintain his visibility. Insulza has openly stated his intention to run for President of Chile.


* [ Biography at OAS site]
* [ Insulza CV] (
*es icon [ "Perfil de Insulza, futuro Secretario General de la OEA"] (El Mercurio Online, Santiago)

External links

* [ "OAS leader charts an independent course"] ("The Miami Herald", June 8 2006)
* [ "Insulza's Accomplishments and Challenges"] ("The Miami Herald", June 9 2006)
* [ "Checkmate by Default: Insulza Wins OAS Race because he is the Sole Candidate that Remains"] (The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 2 2005)

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