Latin America Focus

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta S. Jacobson discussed U.S. initiatives in Latin America during her Coral Gables visit.

Renee Reneau
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 16, 2013) — Just two weeks after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón visited the University of Miami, the U.S. State Department official in charge of Latin America came to Coral Gables to share her insights on education improvements and security concerns in the region.

Roberta S. Jacobson, assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, also shared her humor at the December 13 talk sponsored in part by the University of Miami’s Center for Hemispheric Policy.

“I like to joke,” Jacobson said, noting that her most interesting job was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lima from 2000 to 2002, a period of great turmoil. “Two years, three presidents. It wasn’t because of us.”

During the hour-long discussion at the Hyatt Regency in Coral Gables, Jacobson gave an overview of the Obama administration’s foreign policy goals in Latin America. She also assured members of the audience, who included students, business owners, policymakers, educators and members of the U.S. Southern Command and consular corps, that the administration has not forgotten about fellow nations to the south.

“These are partnerships,” Jacobson stressed, referring to two of President Barack Obama’s main initiatives in the region.

The first, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, is devoted to increasing international study in Latin America and the Caribbean through a greater exchange of students.

The second is the Citizen Security Initiative, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank and launched in April 2012. It aims to help countries in Latin America and the Caribbean improve the effectiveness of their citizen security public policies.

Jacobson expressed an optimism that she said was vital in her position. As one of the judges of “La Idea,” a public-private initiative to expand small business partnerships by connecting Latino entrepreneurs in the U.S. with entrepreneurs in Latin America, Jacobson believes in the power of creativity, advancement and knowledge, spurred by younger generations.

“It’s the best antidote to becoming jaded,” Jacobson said.

La Idea is a competition among young entrepreneurs with the most transformative ideas for business and investment in Latin America. The competition began and ended in Miami, with the Final Business Showcase held Friday afternoon. The 16 finalists showcased their concepts and business pitches to Jacobson and an audience of industry professionals.

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