Ricardo Zúniga is a senior advisor in the Latin America program at USIP.

Prior to joining the Institute, he was a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, serving for 30 years in multiple roles, including as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, U.S. special envoy for the Northern Triangle, and U.S. consul general in São Paulo, Brazil.

Zúniga was detailed to the White House as National Security Council senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs from 2012 to 2015. Zuniga is a co-founder of Dinámica Americas, a consulting firm focused on the Western Hemisphere. He is also a member of the advisory board for the Wilson Center’s Latin America program and Brazil Institute and serves as a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

Zúniga is an expert on Central America, Brazil, Cuba, democracy issues and regional diplomacy. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and served diplomatic tours in Mexico, Portugal, Cuba, Spain and Brazil.

He has a bachelor’s in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. Zúniga is the co-author of “U.S. Foreign Aid to the Northern Triangle 2014–2019: Promoting Success by Learning from the Past,” part of the Wilson Center Reports on the Americas series.

Publications By Ricardo

El Salvador’s Bukele: From ‘World’s Coolest Dictator’ to ‘Philosopher King’

El Salvador’s Bukele: From ‘World’s Coolest Dictator’ to ‘Philosopher King’

Thursday, February 8, 2024

El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, celebrated a landslide electoral victory on Feb. 4, far outstripping his nearest competitor. “The opposition was pulverized,” Bukele told jubilant crowds outside the National Palace on election night. In reply to critics who warn that El Salvador is moving toward authoritarianism, he proclaimed, “we are not substituting democracy because El Salvador has never had democracy.” The leader who once called himself the “world’s coolest dictator” now boasts of being his country’s “philosopher king.”

Type: AnalysisQuestion and Answer

Global Elections & ConflictGlobal Policy

Guatemala’s High-Stakes Electoral Contest Grinds On

Guatemala’s High-Stakes Electoral Contest Grinds On

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Guatemala’s fragile democracy faces its greatest test since the end of the conflicts in the late 20th century. Ongoing efforts to impede or derail the transfer of power to the newly elected president of Guatemala put at risk the country’s security, social and economic development, and international relationships. This will encourage large numbers of Guatemalans to continue to flee their country.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

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