H.E. Mr. Juan Gabriel Valdes
Chilean Ambassador to the United States
Juan Gabriel Valdés is one of Chile’s most distinguished diplomats. He has enjoyed long political and academic careers.
Having begun his professional career in 1972 as a researcher for the Political Science Institute at Universidad Católica de Chile, Juan Gabriel Valdés spent most of the period of Chile’s military regime in exile in the United States and Mexico. During this period he worked for a number of think tanks and universities, including the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., the Latin American Institute for Transnational Studies and the Centre of Economic Research and Teaching, both in Mexico City. In 1984 and 1987 he was a research fellow at the Kellogg Institute of International Studies of Notre Dame University and at the Centre for Latin American Studies at Princeton University. In 1985, he worked as a consultant at the Economic Commission for Latin America.
On his return to Chile, in 1981 Juan Gabriel Valdés became actively involved in the reestablishment of democracy in that country participating in various organizations promoting unity among the opposition to the military regime. He was also a board member and editorialist of magazines challenging the press control existing at the time. In 1988 he coordinated the television campaign against the military regime in the plebiscite that led to the defeat of the Pinochet dictatorship.
Between 1990 and 1994 he served as the first Ambassador of the new democratic regime to Spain. Upon his return to Chile he became head of the international division of the Ministry of Finances assuming the role of lead negotiator for the accession of Chile to the North American Free Trade Agreement. In this position he conducted the negotiations with Canada and Mexico and led the initiation of negotiations with the United States.
In 1996 Juan Gabriel Valdés was appointed Director for International Economic Relations (DIRECON) in the Chilean Foreign Ministry, a position he held for three years. During this time he lead the first negotiation of his country with Peru and sought to deepen Chile’s economic integration with the region and the world, launching talks with the EU and South Korea. In 1999 he was honoured by the US with the country’s “Promoting Free Trade” award.
Between 2000 and 2003 Juan Gabriel Valdés served as Chile’s Permanent Representative to the UN during which time he was a member of the Security Council during the deliberations prior to the invasion of Iraq.
In 2003 President Ricardo Lagos appointed him as Chile’s Ambassador to Argentina.