As we continue to honor Latina leaders during Women’s History Month, we’d like to highlight Latinas who trekked through the political trenches and continue to do so till this very day. As progressive as the United States might be in certain cases, we still have yet to have a female elected as president. We sure have a lot of catching up to do. Here’s a brief list of female pioneers—presidents and government officials—that have made a difference for the people of tomorrow.
Dilma Rousseff is the 36th, and the first, President of Brazil. Rousseff was involved in the political movement from a young age, from joining a Marxist guerilla group that fought against dictatorship, to being a founder of the Democratic Labour Party. Most recently, Shakira said about Rousseff: “It’s a blessing, for the first time to have a female president, since there’s nobody like a woman to understand the problems of childhood.”
Laura Chinchilla, a graduate of Georgetown University, became the first woman president of Costa Rica last year. Chinchilla’s viewpoints tend to be more on the conservative side, she has publicly stated the need for a legal frame to provide fundamental rights to same-sex couples.
CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner became Argentina’s first elected female president, and the second to serve. She first served as the First Lady of Argentina while her husband Néstor Kirchner was president for four years, until he died of a heart attack in 2010.
Michelle Bachelet is Chile’s first female president, serving from 2006 to 2010. She has ranked on influential lists like TIME magazine and Forbes. If being president wasn’t enough, Bachelet is also a pediatrician, an epidemiologist, and she also severed as Health Minister and Defense Minister.
The first female revolutionary in politics was Isabel Perón. If her last name sounds familiar, that is because she first came to public attention as Juan Perón’s (former President of Argentina) third wife (his second wife was Eva Perón). She first began her public service duty as Vice President of Argentina following the death of her husband, and then later became the first female president of Latin America.
Violeta Chamorro began her climb into the political spectrum after the assassination of her husband, La Prensa owner, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro. After his death, Chamorro took over the controversial newspaper. She then became a presidential candidate for the National Opposition Union. And in 1990 Chamorro became the president of Nicaragua for seven years.
Mireya Moscoso might not have started off as a politically minded official (she got a degree in interior design in Miami), but her life entered the political world when she married Arnulfo Arias. Arias served as president of Panama on three different occasions and Moscoso then took over, becoming the first female president in 1999.
Rosa Rosales, a grad of the University of Michigan, is the 45th national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. LULAC is the largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. Rosales served from 2002 to 2010.
Hilda Solis has been serving our U.S. government since she was editor-in-chief of a newsletter in the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs toward the end of the Carter administration. Solis, a Democrat, is currently the 25th United States Secretary of Labor serving in the Obama Administration.