José Miguel Insulza

Secretary General of the Organization of American States Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Chile) Ministry of the Interior and Public Security (Chile)
José Miguel Insulza
Cohen and Insulza recort.jpg
Senator of the Republic of Chile
Assumed office
11 March 2018
9th Secretary General of the Organization of American States
In office
26 May 2005 – 26 May 2015
Preceded byLuigi R. Einaudi
Succeeded byLuis Almagro
Personal details
Born (1943-06-02) 2 June 1943 (age 77)
Political partySocialist Party
Spouse(s)Georgina Núñez Reyes
Alma materUniversity of Michigan

José Miguel Insulza Salinas (born June 2, 1943) is a Chilean politician who served as Secretary General of the Organization of American States from 2005 to 2015.[1] He previously served as Chile's Foreign Minister from 1994 to 1999, and as Interior Minister from 2000 to 2005.

Insulza is nicknamed El Panzer in Chile, for his tank-like drive and reputation due to his ability to take political heat with little apparent damage.[2] He is married to Georgina Núñez Reyes (Mexican) and has three children.

Early life and education

Insulza attended St George's College, an elite American English-language school in Santiago, Chile. He showed interest in public service while studying law at the University of Chile, where he was President of the Law Students Center, vice president of the students' federation of the University of Chile (FECH) and President of the National Association of Student Unions (UFUCH). After graduating from law school, he obtained a graduate degree from the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty (FLACSO) and a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan, United States. He was professor of Political Theory at the University of Chile and of Political Science at the Catholic University in Chile until 1973.


Early beginnings

Insulza was Political Advisor to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Chile until 1973.

Exile in Mexico

After the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, Insulza was prohibited from entering Chile. Insulza lived in exile in Italy from 1974 to 1981 and in Mexico from 1981 to 1988, doing research and then working as the Director of the United States Studies Institute in the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE). He was a professor at Mexico's Universidad Nacional Autónoma, the Universidad Iberoamericana, and the Diplomatic Studies Institute. He has written numerous publications in his field.

Return to Chile

Insulza was appointed Chilean Ambassador for International Cooperation in 1990. He became Director of Multilateral Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the International Cooperation Agency (AGCI). He was a member of the Chilean Association of Political Science, the Bar Association, and the Chilean Council of International Relations.

On March 11, 1994, Insulza became Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs. On September 20, 1994, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. On June 22, 1999 he was appointed Minister Secretary General of the Office of the President. On March 11, 2000, he took office as Minister of the Interior of Chile.

Secretary General of the Organization of American States

Insulza was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States on May 2, 2005 following the withdrawal from the race of Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez. (See 2005 Organization of American States Secretary General election.)

On January 5, 2007, Insulza criticized Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez's decision not to renew television channel RCTV's broadcast license (Chávez had accused the station of being a coup d'état instigator.[3]) Three days later, Chávez responded to Insulza by calling for his resignation and referring to him as a pendejo—a Spanish profanity which is equivalent to "dumbass".[4] Insulza later received the support of several OAS members, including the US, and Chávez conceded he had gone too far with his words. On April 2008, Chávez congratulated Insulza for stating in a presentation before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere that there was no evidence linking Venezuela to terrorist groups.

Insulza openly stated his intention to run for President of Chile, but on January 5, 2009, he stepped out of the race and vowed to continue as OAS Secretary General until the end of his mandate. He gave his support to Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle as the Concertación candidate for president.

On March 24, 2010, Insulza—the sole candidate—was reelected (with the abstention of Bolivia) as OAS chief for another five-year term.[5]

Insulza won the Washington Office on Latin America's prestigious Human Rights Award[6] in 2008. In 2014 Insulza was awarded the prestigious Kalman H. Silvert Award presented by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.[7]


As Secretary General, Insulza was criticized for not taking enough action against human rights abuses in the Americas.[8] In 2008, the Human Rights Foundation started the "Inter-American Democratic Charter and Mr. Insulza" program, to inform Insulza every month of human rights abuses taking place in the Americas.[9]

Later career

In 2019, Insulza joined the inaugural meeting of the so-called Puebla Group in Buenos Aires, a conference of left-leaning political leaders.[10]


  1. ^ Organization of American States. Former Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro Took Office as OAS Secretary General. N.p., 26 May 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.
  2. ^ "Refereeing the Colombia Standoff - TIME". Time. March 6, 2008.
  3. ^ BBC World Service | World Agenda - Global Warning
  4. ^ "Chavez to nationalize electric, telecom companies". CBC News.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2010-03-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2012-06-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Schumacher-Matos, Edward (July 26, 2009). "Inflaming Honduras". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  9. ^ "OAS Head Insulza Faulted for Inaction". The Human Rights Foundation. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  10. ^ Nicolás Misculin (November 9, 2019), Argentina's Fernandez joins leftist leaders for 'Puebla Group' summit Reuters.