Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera received his undergraduate degree from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in 1980 in Political Science and his Masters Degree in Development Studies at the University of Sussex in England in 1982. He has served as a research assistant and Assistant Professor at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, and after completing his graduate degree, as the Academic Advisor for the Institute of High Studies on National Defense. He was a professor from 1990-1992 at the Superior School of the Venezuelan Air Force. Ambassador Alvarez Herrera has been a Professor at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, in the School of Political and Administrative Studies since 1982, and a member of the Professor’s Association there since 1989.
In 1985, Ambassador Alvarez Herrera was the Executive Secretary of the Working Group on Political Reforms of the Presidential Commission for the Reform of the State. In 1986, he served as the Chief of the Research and Development Division, Venezuelan Institute of Foreign Trade. Later he became the Executive Secretary and Venezuelan Representative in the Forum on Debt and Development. In 1993 he became the Director of Cooperation for the Universidad Central de Venezuela.
Ambassador Alvarez Herrera was elected a Deputy to the National Congress for Miranda State in 1994. While a Deputy, he served as Vice President of the Defense Committee and President of the Energy and Mines Committee. He later became the Director-General of Hydrocarbons, and then the Vice Minister of Hydrocarbons in the Ministry of Energy and Mines.
From 1999-2002, Ambassador Alvarez Herrera held several international positions. He was the Venezuelan Coordinator for the Cooperation Agreement between the Venezuelan Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Department of Energy of the United States, the coordinator of the Venezuelan-French Energy Task Force, and head of the Venezuelan delegation to the ministerial-level conferences of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Mr. Herrera-Vaillant has been the Vice President and General Manager of Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce (VenAmCham) and Editor-in-Chief of Business Venezuela, since June 1990.
A Venezuelan citizen born in Havana in 1942, he graduated in 1967 from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (BSFS, international economic affairs), in Washington, D.C.
After six years with the ABC Television and Radio Network in Washington as Associate Producer of “Issues and Answers”, a weekly interview program, and Field Producer for News and Special Events, he joined the International Planned Parenthood Federation as Director for Fundraising for the Western Hemisphere, with offices in New York and Brazil.
He later moved to Caracas, where he worked as an independent consultant in public affairs, and in international trade and real estate in Venezuela and abroad. Among the many organizations he has worked with are the Fundación Paternidad Responsible; Sindicato Los Guayabitos; the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA); Mitsui de Venezuela; the Latin American System (also known as SELA); the Caracas Chamber of Commerce; and G. Rafshoon Associates. He served as Commissioner in the government of the Federal District, and Secretary General and Director of International Affairs of the Ministry of Information and Tourism in 1977-78, during which time he was President of the OAS Tourism Commission and a member of the Executive Committee of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
In 1982, he joined Organización Cisneros as Assistant to the President, and in 1983, he was named Director for Institutional Relations, a position he held until coming to VenAmCham. He was President of the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragances, Industrial Association (CAVEINCA) for four terms from 1984-88. During this time he served as Treasurer and Secretary of the Board of Directors of Conindustria, the Venezuelan Council on Industry, and as President of the Legislative Affairs, Integration (Andean Pact) and International Affairs Committees of Fedecámaras, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. From 1983-85, he served as Hemisphere Secretary General of the Interamerican Trade and Production Council (CICYP), and as the principal representative of private enterprises in the Americas and Spain.
He has received several awards from the government of Venezuela, including the Orden Francisco de Miranda and the Orden al Mérito en el Trabajo, both first class.
He is bilingual in Spanish and English, and also speaks Portuguese and French.
Mr. Olaizola earned an Electronic Engineering degree from Universidad Simón Bolívar in 1976. He participated in the Management Program for Engineers in 1987 at Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración, the Industrial Marketing Program at Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración in 1990, the Advanced Management Program degree at Duke University in 1998, and the Finance for Strategic Decision-Making at the University of Michigan, Business School, Executive Education Center, in 2000.
During 1976-1978, Mr. Olaizola was production supervisor and design engineer for MCM Electrónica. In 1978, he founded and was vice-president until 1989 of GRUPO FONO, consisting of D.V. Fono, Fonolab, and Fonomet, which specialized in Telecommunications and electronics. Mr. Olaizola was director of Commercial Operation for GrupoYaraweg in 1990. He later served as a member of CONATEL (Consejo Nacional de Telecomunicaciones), and he founded and was a member of the Advisory Council of CONATEL, the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency in Venezuela. Mr. Olaizola served as an Advisor to the President of CANTV during the privatization period (1990-1991). Mr. Olaizola founded LOGRAM, a Group of Enterprises in Telecommunications and Electronics in 1990. LOGRAM integrated five start-up companies. Mr. Olaizola was president of Telecomunicaciones Movilnet until July 2002. Movilnet is a subsidiary of CANTV, the National Telephone Company of Venezuela. He led the company during periods of national economic crisis, bringing Movilnet high growth and profitability.
He has served on the board of directors for CANTV.NET, The Caracas Chamber of Commerce, FARMATODO, and CAFADAE/AFETEL/CANAEMTE y FUNDAVAC. He currently is a member of the board of directors for FONOMET and FACTOR AG Servicios Financieros.
Mr. Olaizola was named one of the “Top Ten Executives” in 1999 and “Top 50 executives” in 2000 in Venezuela by Usted magazine. Gerente magazine named him one of “The 100 most successful managers in Venezuela” in 1999 and 2001. He was elected one of the 20 most successful corporate presidents in Venezuela in 2001 and one of the 12 most successful corporate presidents in Venezuela in 1999.
He is currently exploring and developing business opportunities in the USA and Latin America.
Dr. Miguel Angel Rodríguez was President of Costa Rica from 1998 to 2002. He is currently J.B. and Maurice Shapiro Visiting Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Dr. Rodríguez has been a leader of the United Social Christian Party for many years and has served as President of the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly, as well as President of the Christian Democrats of America. He served in the Legislative assembly from 1990-1994 and as its president from 1991-1992. Dr. Rodríguez also served as the Minister of Planning (1968-69) and as Minister of the Presidency (1970).
Before entering public office, Dr. Rodríguez had a highly successful career as a businessman. Dr. Rodriguez has been Director of Agro-Industrial and Export Bank, SA and President of Agrodynamic International, SA, two leading Costa Rican corporations. He was the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Agradinamica Holding Company (1974-87), and founder and president of the Grupo Ganadero Internacional de Costa Rica, S.A. (1970-90).
After receiving his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California-Berkeley, he taught Economics at the University of Costa Rica and the Autonomous University of Central America. In 1962, he received a Licentiate Degree in Economics & Social Sciences and in 1963, a Licenciate in Law, both from the University of Costa Rica.
He has published several books and articles on economic and social issues in Costa Rica and Latin America. Most recently, Dr. Rodríguez published La Solución Costarricense (2003). Other titles by him include Valores Y Reingenieria de los Partidos Democrata Cristianos: Panorama Centroamericano (1995), Por una Vida Buena, Justa y Solidaria (1993), and Una Revolución Moral: Democracia, Mercado y Bien Común (1992).