The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has awarded the 2010 Gus Hart Fellowship to Henrique Capriles Radonski, a Venezuelan governor who, during his political career, has been imprisoned by the Venezuelan Intelligence Police, endured a trial on his role during the failed coup in 2002, and endured frequent persecution by the Venezuelan national government.
The fellowship brings Capriles, governor of Miranda, the second largest state in Venezuela, to Chicago the week of May 24-28 to exchange ideas about education, social reform, politics, and civic leadership in Chicago and Latin America. He will deliver a major public address on the evening of May 27.
Capriles, a founding member of one of Venezuela’s leading political parties, Primero Justicia (Justice First), became governor of Miranda in November 2008, receiving 53 percent of the popular vote and beating President Chavez’s candidate. At the age of 37, he is the youngest serving governor in Venezuela.
Capriles is being honored by The Chicago Council as the 2010 Gus Hart Visiting Fellow for his efforts to promote democracy in Venezuela, lift the poor out of poverty, and reduce violence through education.
The State of Miranda has the highest death rate of people killed by guns 130 for every 100,000 killed per year. Capriles is confronting violence by putting young people in school and giving them a good education, arguing that “violence isn’t just a police matter, it is a social problem.” Forty percent of his budget is dedicated to improving public education and building new schools.
The Hart Fellowship—named after Gus Hart, former vice chairman of Quaker Oats and former chairman of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs—is awarded annually to an emerging Latin American or Caribbean leader. Capriles was selected from a competitive pool of more than impressive candidates nominated by ambassadors, diplomats, business and civic leaders, and government officials from throughout the region.
“We are delighted to honor Henrique as the 2010 Gus Hart Fellow,” said Marshall Bouton, president of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “His commitment to education and to shape a new future for his country is what we seek to celebrate with the Hart Fellowship.”
Capriles began his career in public service as the youngest speaker of the House of Representatives, and then at the age of 26 years was elected president of the House of Representatives. Throughout his ten-year political career, he has won all four elections in which he ran.
“I feel like I have been running a marathon, a very fast one,” said Capriles.
During his visit in May, Capriles will meet with Chicago’s business and civic leaders, university faculty, philanthropists, government officials, and the media. The fellowship is designed to provide him with perspectives on our city’s best practices and also for Chicago to gain insight into the economics and politics shaping Venezuela and Latin America.
“Any experience in Chicago that will improve the quality of life for the people in my country is of interest to me,” said Capriles. “Venezuela is also an incredible country, a very young country, where 70 percent of its population is under 40 years old. I look forward to sharing this idea with the people of Chicago.”