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Women Presidents of Latin America 

Trailblazer of the Day | Monday, September 16, 2013


Several women in Central and South America have shattered the glass ceiling to become President. The first was Argentina’s Isabel Perón, who succeeded her husband, Juan, after his 1974 death. Never as popular as Juan’s first wife - Eva - Isabel Perón was ousted in a coup. In 1980, Nicaragua’s Violeta Chamorro became Latin America’s first woman elected president, shocking incumbent Daniel Ortega. Other Latin American female presidents have included Bolivia’s Lidia Tejada (1979-80), Ecuador’s Rosalia Arteaga (1997), Panama’s Mireya Moscoso (1999-2004) and Chile’s Michelle Bachelet (2006-10).

There are currently three female heads-of-state in Latin America:

In 2007, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won the Argentine Presidency after her husband – Nestor – left office. They were known as the “Clintons of South America”. She signed South America’s first marriage equality bill and brought military officials responsible for Argentina’s “Dirty War” to justice. She was reelected in 2011.

A graduate of Georgetown University, Laura Chinchilla was elected Costa Rica’s President in 2010, after serving two terms as Vice-President. A social conservative, Chinchilla has pushed for increased trade with the U.S. and stronger environmental protections.

Dilma Rousseff was elected Brazil’s President in 2010. She replaced Luiz “Lula” da Silva, for whom she served as Chief-of-Staff and Energy Minister. In 2011 and 2013, Forbes called her one of the most influential woman on earth, after Hillary Clinton and Germany’s Angela Merkel.