Michael Shifter

United States  |  President, Inter-American Dialogue

+1-202-204-5556 ˙ michael@thedialogue.org ˙

This post is also available in: Spanish Portuguese (Brazil)

Michael Shifter is president of the Inter-American Dialogue. He was previously vice president for policy and director of the Dialogue’s democratic governance program. Since 1994, Shifter has played a key role in shaping the Dialogue’s agenda, commissioning policy-relevant articles and reports.

Shifter writes and talks widely on US-Latin American relations and hemispheric affairs. His recent articles have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Financial Times, Current History, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Journal of Democracy, Harvard International Review and in newspapers and journals in Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Chile, Panama, Argentina and Brazil. He is often interviewed by US, Latin American, European and Chinese media, and appears frequently on CNN and BBC. Shifter has lectured about hemispheric policy at leading universities in Latin America and Europe and has testified regularly before the US Congress about US policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean.

Prior to joining the Dialogue, Shifter directed the Latin American and Caribbean program at the National Endowment for Democracy and, before that, the Ford Foundation’s governance and human rights program in the Andean region and Southern Cone, where he was based, first, in Lima, Peru and then in Santiago, Chile. In the 1980s, he was representative in Brazil with the Inter-American Foundation, and also worked at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Latin American Program. 

Since 1993, Shifter has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he teaches Latin American politics. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Latin American Studies Association and is a contributing editor to Current History. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Washington Office on Latin America and on the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch/Americas Division, and the Social Science Foundation of the Graduate School of International Relations at the University of Denver.

Shifter graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Oberlin College and holds a MA in sociology from Harvard University, where he taught Latin American development and politics for four years.


Analysis See all

World Trade Center Lights

Remembering September 11, 2001

The 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, DC were a defining moment in history that forever changed the United States and the world. As we commemorate the tragic day and reflect on its impact after 20 years, we share the following article written by Michael Shifter on October 8, 2001.


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Joe Biden

Biden’s First 100 Days and Latin America Policy

Given the huge demands on Washington  – domestic and international  – and today’s ravaged, fragmented, and leaderless region, this is probably not the right time for bold, ambitious initiatives. But the Biden administration should move quickly to renew partnerships with select countries, emphasizing recovery from Covid-19 and restoring economic and political stability.

˙Michael Shifter

Joe Biden y Donald Trump speaking to supporters

Reflections on US Elections: This is Who We Are

The country is perhaps more profoundly and bitterly polarized than ever, with a high level of mutual distrust. Trumpism proved not to be a fleeting phenomenon, but a movement that is likely to persist and be part of the US political landscape for some time.

˙Michael Shifter

Brent Scowcroft

Scowcroft and Colombia

Brent Scowcroft was truly one of the giants of the US foreign policy establishment. We admire his wisdom, prowess as a strategist, and humility as a person. Like few others, he understood the importance of building and sustaining US alliances and respectful relations. At the Dialogue, we are inspired by Scowcroft’s rich legacy.

˙Michael Shifter


Events See all


Press Mentions See all

The [Biden] administration understands that it cannot count on Mexico, or many other Latin American countries, to join the US in pressuring the Cuban regime to improve its human rights record. That is today’s sad and unfortunate reality of inter-American politics. [For Lopez Obrador], principles of non-intervention and protection of national sovereignty take precedence over everything else, at least rhetorically.
Estados Unidos no está jugando el papel dominante que había adoptado en otras negociaciones. Hay mayor disposición [de la administración Biden] sobre un enfoque más multilateral, un enfoque de negociaciones, de diálogo con el gobierno de Maduro pero al mismo tiempo hay una firmeza [en torno a elecciones libres y justas].