Luis A. Rivas

Nicaragua |  Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Inter-American Dialogue

Principal, Varyag Consulting Group

+1-202-822-9002 ˙ ˙

Luis A. Rivas is a non-resident senior fellow with the Migration, Remittances and Development Program at the Inter-American Dialogue and a Principal at Varyag Consulting Group, a strategic advisory firm that assists business leaders worldwide on issues of security, advocacy, diplomacy, business strategy and transactions. Previously, Rivas spent more than 20 years in the banking industry, where he held leading executive positions, such as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice-President of Grupo Promerica, a Central American banking conglomerate with operations in eight countries in Latin America; and Chief Executive Officer of Banpro, the largest bank in Nicaragua.

Prior to his career in banking, Rivas worked for more than 10 years in the public sector. He worked at the Central Bank of Nicaragua and as economic adviser during the government of President Enrique Bolaños, leading the technical team in charge of fiscal policy, and coordinating the structural reforms necessary to obtain multilateral debt relief for Nicaragua under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), directed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other bilateral and commercial creditors, which resulted in a 90% reduction of Nicaragua’s external debt at the Paris Club.

Rivas obtained a BA and a MA in Economics at Florida International University, and a MA and a PhD in Economics at Cornell University. Upon obtaining his doctoral degree, he taught at Cornell and Vanderbilt University, where he also undertook research on various topics, such as taxes, spending, and growth; privatization, inequality, and welfare; child labor and capital accumulation; inflation and monetary policy; and debt sustainability. His work has been published in journals, such as European Economic Review, Monetaria, El Trimestre Economico; and books with organizations such as Centro de Estudios Monetarios de Latinoamerica in Mexico and the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.

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Photo of protesters in Nicaragua during the 2018 protests

Democracy Under Siege in Central America

Democracy is under threat in Central America and authoritarianism is on the rise. This problem is having long-term institutional and economic implications for these countries and poses serious challenges for US policy towards the region. Uncheckered political ambitions and abuses of authority in the form of corruption or political and economic favoritism are signs of severe democratic backsliding. Nicaragua is an illustration of the consequences of unconstrained power. But the growing corruption and political ambitions of other Central American leaders could further affect democratic institutions in the region. It is important not only to bear witness but to mobilize proactive foreign policy to prevent authoritarianism from rising.

˙Luis A. Rivas