Jose Miguel Insulza
Organization of American States
José Miguel Insulza was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) on May 2, 2005, and took office on May 26 of that year. Secretary General Insulza is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Pan American Development Foundation, an OAS affiliate.
This Chilean politician has an accomplished record of public service. At the beginning of his five-year term as Secretary General, he pledged to strengthen the Organization’s “political relevance and its capacity for action.”
A lawyer by profession—he has a law degree from the University of Chile, did postgraduate studies at the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty (FLACSO) and has a Master’s in political science from the University of Michigan. Insulza began his career in academia. Until 1973, he was Professor of Political Theory at the University of Chile and Professor of Political Science at Chile’s Catholic University. He also served, until that year, as Political Advisor to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Chile.
Following the coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet into power, Insulza went into exile for 15 years, first in Rome, Italy (1974-1980) and then in Mexico City (1981-1988). In Mexico City, he was a researcher and then Director of the United States Studies Institute in the Center for Economic Research and Teaching. He also taught at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, the Ibero-American University and the Diplomatic Studies Institute, and was the author of numerous publications.
In 1988, after Chileans voted against Pinochet’s continued rule in a plebiscite, Insulza returned to his home country and helped to lead a political movement toward democratic elections in 1990. A member of Chile’s Socialist Party—part of a moderate coalition of democratic parties—Insulza has held a number of high-level government posts. Under the presidency of Patricio Aylwin, Insulza served as Chilean Ambassador for International Cooperation, Director of Multilateral Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Vice President of the International Cooperation Agency.
In March 1994, under the administration of President Eduardo Frei, Insulza became Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and in September of that year, was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1999, he became Minister Secretary General of the Presidency. The following year, he became President Ricardo Lagos’s Minister of the Interior and Vice President of the Republic. When he left that post in May 2005, he had served as a government minister for more than a decade, the longest continuous tenure for a minister in Chilean history.