April 26, 2019 Print

Atlas Network’s regular New York event series, Global Policy Perspectives (GPP), brings world-class think tank leaders to Manhattan to deliver talks on timely and topical policy issues affecting their countries and how the work their organizations do fit into those landscapes. On April 25, 115 people gathered together in New York City to hear Dr. Roberto Salinas León, director of Atlas Network's Center for Latin America, explain how the political and economic landscape of Latin America is transforming in his talk: “Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil: Currents of Major Changes in Latin America.” The GPP event series is generously supported by the Smith Family Foundation and the Achelis & Bodman Foundation.


One hundred and fifteen people attended our April GPP event featuring Center for Latin America Director Roberto Salinas León.

“Latin America is always changing for good or ill,” began Salinas León, who has served as director since the Center’s founding in November 2018. He also heads the Mexico Business Forum and the Alamos Alliance and serves as senior policy advisor to TV Azteca and Grupo Salinas in Mexico.

Atlas Network established the Center for Latin America to promote peace, justice, and opportunity to all in a region in the midst of volatile change by empowering more than 80 independent civil society organizations based in the countries of Latin America with the resources to create and implement "home-grown solutions" to poverty and other public policy challenges.

“There is not a model from above that can be imposed,” said Salinas León. “But rather, look at home grown solutions which is what Atlas Network is doing. There are many libertarian organizations throughout Central America that would not exist without Atlas Network.”

Salinas León described how Venezuela, once hailed as an example of a bright socialist future, has proven yet again that the large, bureaucratic policies of government ownership and redistribution lead to massive suffering.

“You have to put yourself in the shoes of a regular Venezuelan man and woman” explained Salinas León. “You cannot walk out on the street without being assailed by people just trying to survive. There is no toilet paper, no food, no shoes.”

While Venezuela has surprised the world with its quick descent from economic heights, Brazil has done just the opposite—showing signs of a surging economy through free-market reforms. Salinas León excitedly described conversations within the country about pension reform and the need to establish a Ministry of Privatization, which are being called for by everyday Brazilian citizens.


Audience members had the opportunity to ask questions after the lecture. 

On Mexico, Salinas León gave words of warning as policies hostile to freedom have recently gained popularity. He also explained the benefits of free trade as the principle reason for the rise of the middle class in many countries throughout Latin America.

“The greatest threat to Latin America and North America comes from my home country, Mexico,” he said. “Mexico exports over a billion dollars of goods a day. It also imports a similar amount. Now there had been a rise of a middle class because of buying power.”

Audience members were captivated as Salinas León broke down the complex issues of international trade, populist surges, and the political leaders that are causing rapid change in so many countries throughout the region.

“This was incredible,” commented Patience, a recent college graduate. “(He is) extremely knowledgeable and this education is accessible.”

Attendee Matt Kibbe (President and Chief Community Officer of Free the People) said, “(It was) interesting to get feedback from someone with boots on the ground with experience with our friends (in Latin America).”


Attendee Matt Kibbe (President and Chief Community Officer of Free the People) said, “(It was) interesting to get feedback from someone with boots on the ground with experience with our friends (in Latin America).”

Another attendee, Rob Granieri added, “It was good to get perspective on Mexico.”

Salinas León ended his discussion with a Q&A period where audience members had the chance to ask about property rights, energy trade, and the potential for new partnerships between countries like China, Mexico, and the U.S.


The GPP series offers an opportunity to learn from policy experts and network with professionals interested in comparative politics and foreign policy.

The night ended on an uplifting note as Salinas León explained that there is an almost universal call for stable economic systems that respect local communities throughout almost all of Latin America and that is why the Center for Latin America is so important at this time.  

“What we do at CLA (Center for Latin America) is help to understand these things and to stress that change has to come from local wisdom,” Salinas León concluded. “Learn what’s happening inside these countries. We are trying to communicate and show the tremendous opportunity for change and hope.”


From left to right: Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips, Dr. Roberto Salinas León, Associate Director of the Center for Latin America Antonella Marty, and Executive Vice President for International Programs and George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty, Dr. Tom Palmer.

The GPP event series is generously supported by the Smith Family Foundation and the Achelis & Bodman Foundation.