Quarterly Newsletter Q1 2024

IOA Info

President’s Column

Assessing the various key developments across Latin America, we, at the Institute of the Americas (IOA), see 2024 as a pivotal year with many socio-economic and political changes on the horizon.  

This year, Latin America will see five forthcoming presidential elections in Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.  

Last month, El Salvador also held elections re-electing President Nayib Bukele – the self-described “world’s coolest dictator” – with a landslide victory, though his second term remains controversial given that country’s constitutional ban on re-election.

Though 2023 proved to be a year that favored anti-establishment candidates, as seen with the election of Javier Milei in Argentina and Bernardo Arévalo in Guatemala, that trend is unlikely to continue in 2024.

Across the region, security remains an ongoing concern, particularly in Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico.  Ecuador, once among the secure countries in the region, has in the past year experienced a rapid rise of violence attributed to the activities of internationally operating narco-gangs and crime syndicates.
Read more »


First Binational Forum on Sustainable Maritime Transport & Ports for the Californias

On February 14th-15th, in collaboration with WWF Mexico, the Mexican Maritime Transportation Chamber and the Global Maritime Forum, we held the First Binational Forum on Sustainable Maritime Transport & Ports in the Three Californias. We welcomed more than 80 guests from Mexico, California, and 5 other countries in Latin America and Europe. In-depth discussions were held on issues that will help Mexico capitalize on near shoring trends by betting on greener ports, companies and intermodal services. The event was attended by key authorities including the General Coordinator of Ports and Merchant Marine from Mexico’s Navy Secretary; representatives from multiple ports on both sides of the border; development banks and multilateral agencies, the IMO’s Maritime Technology Cooperation Center and multiple organizations from civil society and academia.

The event culminated with the announcement of commitments made by different actors to promote the sustainability of the sector in Mexico. You can read the full press release here and visit the forum’s website where we’ve uploaded the presentations made by speakers and we will soon post pictures, videos and more.

IOA Launches the Future Energy Leaders Initiative

We have embarked on an effort to cultivate the next generation of energy trailblazers through our Future Energy Leaders initiative. Thanks to the generous contributions of our philanthropic partners, Johan Gerretsen (a former energy executive at Solar Turbines), Theodore Gildred III (IOA Board Member and son of the Institute’s founder), and Leslie Bassett (IOA Advisory Board Member and former US ambassador to Paraguay) IOA has enriched our connection with graduate students from UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) and in the region, providing academic and travel scholarships as well as honorarium that have helped empower these students to become catalysts for future change in the energy sector.

Last year and this coming April, several students have been involved as attendees and rapporteurs at our Madrid Energy Conference, engaging with global energy leaders and contributing to the summary report. They have also served as rapporteurs for our annual La Jolla Energy Conference. Our collaboration has also led to unique research projects such as our assessment of the role and performance of key national oil companies in Latin America with regards to sustainable development and energy transition. 



The first quarter of the year began with our now-annual tradition of compiling thoughts and insights from our roster of non-resident fellows in an “energy outlook” report. We made one important change for this year’s edition and incorporated contributions from three UCSD/GPS graduate students. (See our Future Energy Leaders Initiative). We also focused on drafting an engagement strategy for Argentina-US energy and minerals collaboration; our visit to Buenos Aires included a Steering Committee meeting and lunch with US ambassador Marc Stanley.

We published two unique briefs by Riyad Insanally and Warren Levy on the Guyana-Venezuela border crisis and how natural gas can ameliorate energy poverty. Their commentaries expanded upon remarks and insights from their participation as panelists at the XXXII La Jolla Energy Conference.

In collaboration with Steering Committee member Sproule, we co-hosted a webinar on the occasion of their annual Latin America and Caribbean Outlook report. Work on the Madrid Energy Conference and the publication of a unique white paper in collaboration with CAF – Development Bank of Latin America also moved forward in the first quarter. 

2024 Energy Outlook:  A New World Order

In January, we compiled commentaries from our roster of Non-Resident Fellows focused on key trends and issues facing the energy sector in the next 12 months. The 2024 Outlook featured a new format. Instead of one longer form essay from each contributor, we organized the outlook around three distinct prompts with individual, shorter responses. Beyond perspectives from our Non-Resident Fellows, our 2024 outlook included contributions from three second-year UC San Diego School of Global Policy & Strategy graduate students all of whom have been interns and researchers at the IOA over the last year. Download Report »

The Guyana-Venezuela Border Crisis

On December 3, Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela held a “consultative referendum” over the Essequibo region of Guyana, thereby escalating the border crisis. Much has been made in the media about the connection to the vast oil and gas deposits offshore Guyana. Indeed, the latest imbroglio began shortly after Guyana received bids for blocks up for auction. Riyad Insanally, a career diplomat who last served as Guyana’s Ambassador to the United States of America and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, expanded upon his remarks from his participation as a panelist at the XXXII La Jolla Energy Conference in this brief. Download Report »

How Natural Gas Can Gelp Solve Energy Poverty in Mexico

Among the crucial issues for this year’s presidential election in Mexico, fighting poverty, climate change, and managing irregular immigration top the list. Some of these issues are also significant in the U.S. elections. Solutions to these multi-faceted challenges are not simple. However, natural gas in Mexico has a role; finding a solution and helping ensure that the energy transition we implement in Mexico leaves no one behind is imperative. This brief was prepared by Warren Levy, CEO of Jaguar EP, a Mexican oil and gas company and sponsor of the XXXII La Jolla Energy Conference and expands upon his remarks at the conference. See Report »

Madrid Energy Conference Curtain Raiser Videos

Each year, we develop a collection of industry-influencer interviews produced specifically for the Madrid Energy Conference. In advance of this year’s Fifth annual edition set for April 9-11, we were pleased to speak to representatives from Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy and Excelerate Energy.

Our first curtain raiser features Thiago Barral, Brazil’s Secretary of Planning and Energy Transition at the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Thiago joined us as a speaker at our first ever Madrid Energy Conference in 2019. Thiago Barral shared his insights and key messages from Brazil to consider at this year’s Conference and panel discussions.

From Brazil’s role in the G20 to a wide range of evolving policies and legislation surrounding hydrogen, offshore wind, advanced biofuels and alternate fuels, not to mention the recently announced industrialization policy in Brazil.

Our second Madrid Energy Conference Curtain Raiser interview for 2024 featured two executives from Excelerate Energy. We spoke to Gabriela Aguilar, Vice President for Latin America and General Manager for Argentina and Brazil, and Derek Wong, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs.

Our interview covered global natural gas and LNG trends, the evolving geopolitics particularly in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, as well as the role gas continues to play in Latin America and the Caribbean’s energy matrix.

Webinar: Leveraging Potential – LATAM & Caribbean Energy Outlook

In collaboration with our Steering Committee member Sproule, we were pleased to co-host a webinar on leveraging energy potential in Latin America and the Caribbean on the occasion of the publication of their 2024 Latin America & Caribbean Outlook Report. Featuring a summary of their Outlook report and highlighting primary transactions, influential projects, and regulatory updates driving decarbonization and growth of the energy sector, we had a robust discussion particularly around natural gas and LNG, as well as hydrogen. We particularly enjoyed the audience participation and insights on the polling questions surrounding green hydrogen at this year’s webinar.

Watch Webinar Recording »


IOA’s EC2 was busy this quarter in La Paz, capital city of Baja California Sur, Mexico, convening the first Binational Forum on Sustainable Maritime Transport & Ports, with stakeholders from Mexico and around the world. We’ve also published a new report by Soffía Alarcón, our non-resident fellow, on the opportunities presented by smart cities in Latin America, and the results from a 30-day cruise along the Gulf of California documenting the status of these beautiful rocky reefs.

Rocky Reef Monitoring Report

The rocky reef monitoring program has been one of the main research activities of the GCMP since 1998 and to celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary, we recreated the original monitoring campaign that started it. During a 30-day cruise along the Gulf of California, the team documented the state of rocky reef communities, explored deep and pelagic ecosystems using the latest technology and studied blue carbon ecosystems.

Download Report »

Smart Cities:  A Blueprint for Urban Transformation in Latin America

This report by EC2 non-resident fellow Soffía Alarcón and Thierry Verheije, Lead Digital Transformation Consultant at the World Bank, aims to highlight successful Smart City implementations, identify challenges, and propose solutions within the Latin American context, and offer a holistic analysis that not only chronicles advancements but also contributes to improving the overall quality of life.

Download Report »


Seizing CaliBaja’s Nearshoring Opportunity: A Binational Call to Action

In an effort to assess the nearshoring potential of the CaliBaja Mega border region, the Institute of the Americas (IOA) has partnered with the Burnham Center for Community Advancement in undertaking a strategy report entitled, Seizing Cali Baja’s Near Sourcing Opportunity:  A Bi-National Regional Call to Action.   The strategy report highlights four critical value-added supply chains with potential future opportunity for the region including:medical devicessemiconductorsaerospace and lithium battery/zero emission vehicle manufacturing.

Under the right conditions, an opportunity also exists for the region to become a destination for future generic drug and biosimilar manufacturing. The strategy report also highlights key issues and challenges that the CaliBaja region will need to adequately address to take full advantage of this once-in-a-generation nearshoring opportunity.    The strategy report was made possible thanks to the generous support of Malin Burnham and the Burnham Foundation, the Alumbra Innovations Foundation, Steve Williams and Bill Koman & the Koman Foundation.

A formal launch event is planned for the strategy report on April 25, 2024 by the Burnham Center in San Diego.  Click here to RSVP.

IOA partners with Wilson Center to publish the Spanish edition of North America 2.0: América del Norte 2.0

To continue fostering enhanced regional economic integration, IOA partnered with the Wilson Center to translate and release the Spanish e-book version of the publication North America 2.0: Forging a Continental Future, co-edited by Alan Bersin and Tom Long. Currently, IOA is actively supporting the production of the printed edition of América del Norte 2.0.

IOA appreciates the generous support of the Alumbra Innovations Foundation that made the Spanish edition of North America 2.0 possible.

 Download Book in Spanish »

Our People

Welcome to our New Board Members

Abraham Zamora

Abraham Zamora is the current Senior Vice President, Chief External Affairs Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer for Sempra Infrastructure. He brings over two decades of experience in corporate public affairs and government with unique expertise in Mexico. 

Read Full Bio »

Daniel Parfait

Daniel Parfait is the former CEO of Safran Mexico (subsidiary of the French aerospace company Safran Group) and French Ambassador to Mexico and Colombia.  His rich trayectory will help IOA build bridges of economic cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Read Full Bio »

A Tribute to Retiring Board Member David Weaver

After serving on IOA’s board for three decades, including five years as Board Chair and many years thereafter as Chairman Emeritus, David Weaver has stepped down from IOA’s board.  A committed supporter of the Institute over the years, Mr. Weaver sponsored key Energy & Sustainability Program activities. Together, he and his late wife, Dorothy, made a leadership gift to the Institute’s Campaign 2000 naming the Weaver Conference Center, an important Institute facility.  Inaugurated as part of the Institute’s 20th Anniversary event in 2003, the Weaver Conference Center has hosted hundreds of Institute, UC San Diego and community meetings and events over the past 20 years.

During his tenure as a board member, Mr. Weaver worked closely with four Institute Presidents: US Ambassadors Paul Boeker, Jeffrey Davidow and Charles Shapiro; and Canadian Ambassador, Jamal Khokhar. Key programs launched during this board tenure included the STEM Program which ran for 13 years; and a week-long conference entitled, the 200 Years of Independence: Realization of the Promise 1810-2010 that brought participants from 18 Latin American countries and culminated in the Board’s Award for Democracy and Peace presented to Leonel Fernández, then President of the Dominican Republic.

Mr. Weaver, a business executive, is the Managing Partner and Chairman of Intercap Investments, Inc. which he formed in 1979.  He co-founded WebGen Systems, Inc. and its successor, Intercap Energy Systems, Inc. The firm’s Intelligent Use of Energy® system was an industry pioneer using artificial intelligence in web-based building and facilities management and energy conservation.

For almost 40 years, Mr. Weaver has served, and continues to serve, as a Trustee of the University of Miami. He was Co-Chairman of the University’s $530 million capital campaign in the late 1980s and has since chaired many other important University committees, including the Miami Asset Management Corporation. He has also served as the Assistant Manager of the City of Miami; a board member of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the Young Presidents Organization; and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Weaver currently serves on the board of the Public Broadcasting System Foundation (PBS) and is the treasurer of Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society. 

He received his undergraduate and MBA degrees from Harvard University.

Upcoming Events

5th Madrid Energy Conference

April 9-11 | Madrid, Spain


Sustainable Operations: Decarbonization of the Port-Maritime Sector

April 25 | Virtual

Contact Us

Seizing CaliBaja’s Nearshoring Opportunity
Report Release

April 25 | San Diego, CA

RSVP here

XXXIII La Jolla Energy Conference

April 25 | San Diego, CA

Contact Us

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