Roberta Jacobson on “Big Stories in Latin America”

Roberta Jacobson's seminars will be held on Tuesdays at 12:30 PM.
Lunch will be provided.
Sign up for office hours here.

All IOP Pritzker Fellows Seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. 
All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


With little focus beyond immigration and negative stereotypes in Washington, what are the big trends in Mexico and the Americas these days? The Americas - from Canada to Tierra del Fuego, matter more to average Americans on a daily basis than any other region in the world - economically, culturally, politically - even to our public health. Yet neither policy-makers nor the media spend much time focused on the countries of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. With a particular focus on Mexico, the seminar will address some of the biggest issues in the Western Hemisphere and why they should matter to all of us.    

Seminar 1 (10/2): Elections Have Consequences | RSVP

Change has come or is coming to Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela this year. The U.S. narrative sees Trump-like populists of the right and left gaining, but the truth is more complicated. Venezuela holds elections frequently, as part of Chavez’s “direct democracy,” yet clearly is failing the test of democracy, so what can be done? We’ll discuss the limits of elections and multilateralism in Venezuela.  

Special Guest: Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez, Adjunct Lecturer of Global Management at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management

Seminar 2 (10/9): Cuba: Lost Opportunities | RSVP

A discussion of the Obama administration’s dramatic reopening of diplomatic relations by the lead negotiator. What did the “opening” achieve and where did we fall short? Did the Trump Administration’s ostensible reversal of that policy change anything? What does new leadership in Cuba mean for the future of the island and bilateral relations?  

Seminar 3 (10/16): Colombia: Shades of Gray | RSVP

From near failed state to the newest member of the OECD (in less than 20 years), we’ll look at Colombia beyond the Narcos caricature. With a new president, a controversial peace process, and an explosion in coca cultivation, what do Colombia’s successes and challenges tell us about U.S. policy in the Americas and what lies ahead? 

Special Guest: Dan Restrepo, former NSC senior director for the Americas

Seminar 4 (10/25): Central America & the Migration Crisis | RSVP

*Please note, this seminar will take place on Thursday, October 25 at 3:30

The Americas take center stage as migrant flows increase from Central America, families are separated, and the U.S. government threatens Mexico and Central American governments if they do not slow the flow. What have we learned from the migrant surges of 2014 and 2018? How did the U.S. government responses differ and what will really work to lessen the flow?    

Seminar 5 (11/1): Mexico: President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) - Radical Pragmatist? | RSVP

Which AMLO will govern and what do his actions during the 5-month transition tell us with less than 30 days to go to his inauguration? Is NAFTA on life support or getting a new lease on life?   

Seminar 6 (11/6): The Energy Revolution in the Americas | RSVP

Fossil fuels, renewables, and the emerging power of energy players in this Hemisphere. Mexico’s energy reforms and North American energy self-sufficiency, Guyana seeks to avoid the ‘oil curse’ and other issues in the regional energy scene.  

Special Guest: Lourdes Melgar, former Mexican U/S of Energy 

Seminar 7 (11/13): Violence in Mexico | RSVP

Mexico saw more homicides in 2017 than ever before, even as security forces killed or captured leaders of cartels. The CDC says 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the same year. What can be done to effectively address the security situation in Mexico [and Central America] and the opioid crisis in the United States? Is judicial reform and the rule of law in Mexico part of the answer?   

Seminar 8 (11/20): Corruption - THE Issue in the Americas RSVP

Will citizens seeking to drain the swamp get real change? What is the role of civil society and how effective is it? Why have Brazil and Mexico seen such radically different responses to widespread corruption? We’ll focus on efforts in Mexico to fight corruption.

Special Guest: Juan Pardinas, Mexican Competitiveness Institute (IMCO) president and anti-corruption activist