Robert Valencia is a journalist and public affairs specialist with more than 10 years of experience. He is a bilingual writer who has covered issues related to drug policy, human rights, U.S. presidential and legislative elections, freedom of the press, immigration, racial and criminal justice in the United States, finance in emerging markets and economic integration across the Western Hemisphere. He worked as the deputy world editor for Newsweek, and is now serving as the Spanish language media strategist for Earthjustice.
Some of his notable work includes live coverage on the 2016 election and inauguration of President Donald Trump, interviews with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and then- Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló in the wake of Hurricane María’s first anniversary, analysis on the 69th U.N. General Assembly, the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2013, and commentary on the 2015 reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
He has worked closely with Global Voices and CONNECTAS — a network of more than 150 journalists across the Western Hemisphere — to foster editorial collaboration and in-depth analysis on U.S. politics and immigration across the Americas.
He has written articles and scholarly publications for Truthout, openDemocracy, Fusion TV, The Miami Herald, NPR’s Latino USA, Public Radio International, World Policy Institute, Global Voices Online, Mic.com, the World Politics Review, the Georgetown and Yale Journal of International Affairs.
As a result, he has become a sought-after commentator, with more than 350 appearances on English and Spanish-language media outlets such as CNN en Español, Al Jazeera, NTN24, Univision, Telemundo, France24 and Voice of America, to name a few.
His work also marries the importance of storytelling and public policy discourse to promote commonsense legislation. He has crafted and implemented communications strategies for the United Nations, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the Center for American Progress, The Opportunity Agenda and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, among other non-profit organizations.
Media outlets, scholars, and governmental institutions have cited such body of work: The Mexican Senate’s Center of International Studies used the Georgetown Journal’s pieces to analyze the impact of the Pacific Alliance economic bloc in the Mexican economy, while the Brookings Institution cited his analysis on conflict resolution at the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Likewise, his extensive work on drug policies and its effects on mass incarceration and racial justice for the World Policy Institute has been mentioned or republished on the UK-based Beckley Foundation, the Harvard National Security Journal, the U.S. Army War College, the University of Toledo Law Review, the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, and the Chilean Ministry of National Defense.
Some of these publications have defended the importance of easing draconian drug legislation in the Americas and the United States, which in recent years have seen marijuana legalization across several U.S. states, including the District of Columbia. Additionally, Former President of Mexico Carlos Salinas de Gortari discussed his position on the war on drugs by citing Robert’s article for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs titled, “War on Drugs: A Pan-Regional Fight” in his book Democracia Republicana: Ni Estado Ni Mercado, Una Alternativa Ciudadana (“Republican Democracy: A Citizen’s Alternative”).
It is worth noting that new generations have shown interest in Robert’s publications. Students who participate at debate coaching or Model UNs, teachers and professors, as well as undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia have used Robert’s articles that buttress the research they carry out in their thesis projects, scholarly competitions, or their syllabi. In fact, the textbook Opposing Viewpoints Series: Free Trade dedicated a chapter to Robert’s position on the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and the U.S.
Robert holds a B.S. in communications and a B.A. in international relations from Florida International University, an M.A. in public relations from Iona College, and an MPA from Baruch College, where he was a National Urban Fellow.
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and moved to Miami at age 13. This drastic transition marked my life forever as I became a “1.5-generation Latino”. My family and I witnessed the devastating war Colombia waged against the Medellín Cartel and its effects on society. Then, as we settled in South Florida, I experienced the geopolitical and technological developments at the time, from Y2K to 9/11. I also learned of other communities of color and nationalities, particularly those from Latin America. Cubans, Argentineans, Venezuelans, Central Americans, and other Colombians came to Miami because they faced socioeconomic hardship in their respective countries. Each had a riveting story to tell.
Because of my interest in collecting stories and understanding the communities I interacted with, I decided to enroll as communications major at Florida International University in 2001, with a minor in French and Geography, thanks to The Miami Herald’s Janet Chusmir scholarship. I also majored in international relations and obtained a Latin American Studies certificate from the same school. While I was completing my bachelor degrees, I did an internship at Terra.com, where I had the chance to interview Latin American and Hollywood artists, and I studied abroad in Angers, France, during the summer of 2003 at the Université Catholique de l’Ouest.
My first years in the U.S. became my cornerstone in the pursuit of professional and academic development. After having completed my undergraduate studies, I moved to New York to pursue an M.A. in public relations while doing an internship at the United Nations, which shifted my career focus from entertainment reporting to public policy. Soon after, I moved to Washington DC to join the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in 2008.
The historic election of President Barack Obama, coupled with my tenure at the Center for American Progress in 2009, deepened my interest in domestic policies and its effects in other parts of the world ever since. In 2010 I contributed with some articles for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and, in 2011, I worked as a web strategist for The Tides Center’s The Opportunity Agenda. I have become very passionate about U.S. and hemispheric issues, and so I began writing for several media outlets, including Global Voices. I recently completed my fellowship at the National Urban Fellows program because I am committed to learning more about the intersection of public policy and communications.
I am a big fan of coffee, travel, social justice, dogs, world music, and fútbol (no, not soccer.)