Presidents in America: who are the women who reached the highest democratic office in their country | BBCL With You

In America, several women have reached the highest democratic office in their respective countries, challenging barriers and shaping history. From María Estela Martínez de Perón in Argentina, the first to lead a presidential country, to Dina Boluarte in Peru, these women have faced and overcome unique challenges in diverse contexts.

Throughout their terms, they have addressed national issues, pushed for reforms, and, in many cases, faced significant adversity. According to our partner media, Deutsche Welle, these are the women presidents that the American continent has had.

María Estela Martínez de Perón, Argentina

Better known in Argentina as “Isabelita”, she was elected vice president in 1973, running alongside Juan Domingo Perón. After his death in July 1974, Isabel assumed the position of president until 1976, when she was overthrown and imprisoned by the civil-military dictatorship that took power on March 24, 1976. She was the first head of state and Government of the world of a presidential country.

Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, Nicaragua

Nicaraguan journalist and politician, she was elected president in April 1990 and governed until January 1997. She was the first woman on the American continent to be elected president of the Republic, and the third woman to hold the position of head of State and Government. . She was part of the national reconstruction board after the Sandinista Revolution, which overthrew the Somoza dictatorship.

Michelle Bachelet, Chile

The Chilean doctor and politician was president of Chile in two non-consecutive periods (2006-2010/ 2014-2018). She was also the first “pro tempore” president of Unasur and the first director of UN Women. Between 2018 and 2022, she was United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner are the longest-serving presidents in Latin America.

Michelle Bachelet

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina

She is a lawyer and was a representative and senator before being elected president (2007-2011/2011-2015), succeeding her husband, the deceased Néstor Kirchner. She was vice president (2019-2023) during the Government of Alberto Fernández. CFK was the first elected president of Argentina, with a Justicialist policy and defense of human rights. She is accused in several corruption trials.

Cristina Kirchner

Lidia Gueiler Tejada, Bolivia

Lidia Gueiler, a Bolivian accountant and politician, served as interim president of Bolivia from 1979 to 1980. After Natush Busch overthrew the interim government of Walter Guevara Arze in a bloody coup d’état, popular resistance forced Busch to return power to the Congress, which elected Gueiler as interim president, until the elections of June 29, 1980.

Claudette Werleigh, Haiti

He studied Medicine and graduated in Law and Economics. She was the first female prime minister of Haiti, from 1995 to 1996. Previously she had been Minister of Social Affairs during the interim presidency of Ertha Pascal Trouillot. She stood out for strengthening political leadership and organizing democratic presidential elections in her country.

Rosalía Arteaga Serrano, Ecuador

A lawyer and social activist, as well as a writer, she was president of Ecuador between February 6 and 11, 1997, after Abdalá Bucaram was overthrown by Congress. Parliament appointed Fabián Alarcón president, who ceded power to Arteaga, until Congress re-imposed Alarcón, and Arteaga became vice president.

Mireya Moscoso, Panama

She was the first woman to serve as president of Panama, from 1999 to 2004. She had already presented herself as a candidate in 1994, and in 1999 she triumphed resoundingly. She married Arnulfo Arias at age 18, who was overthrown in 1968 by a coup led by Colonel Omar Torrijos.

Laura Chinchilla Miranda, Costa Rica

She is a political scientist and was president of Costa Rica (2010-2014), being the first Costa Rican woman elected to that position. During her mandate she faced economic uncertainty and insecurity in her country, problems for which she conceived plans for competitiveness, citizen well-being and development. She is an honorary member of the Club of Madrid and one of the most influential women in the region.

Dilma Vana Rousseff, Brazil

She is an economist and served as president of Brazil from 2011 until her dismissal in 2016. She is the first Brazilian woman to hold the position. She was active in the resistance against the military dictatorship, she was illegally detained for three years and tortured. She joined Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party (PT) in 2001. She was dismissed in 2016 for alleged corruption, with those accusations still unproven.

Jeanine Áñez, Bolivia

She is a lawyer and television presenter, and assumed the position of interim president of Bolivia after the political crisis in which Evo Morales was asked to leave power, in November 2019, until November 2020. Before that, she was second vice president of the Senate. In 2022 she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “resolutions contrary to the Constitution.”

Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, Honduras

The current president of Honduras is the first woman to hold that position. She is the wife of José Manuel Zelaya, who was overthrown by a coup d’état in 2009. Xiomara Castro succeeded Juan Orlando Hernández, accused of drug trafficking and corruption, and extradited to the US in 2022. Castro is also president “pro tempore” of CELAC.

Dina Boluarte, Peru

The lawyer was elected first vice president of Peru in 2021, and has been president since December 2022 by constitutional succession, following the vacancy motion against Pedro Castillo made by the Peruvian Congress in response to an attempted self-coup. She is the first woman in the presidency of Peru. She is being investigated for deaths in anti-government protests in 2023 and for alleged illicit enrichment.

Claudia Rodríguez, El Salvador

Claudia Rodríguez de Guevara is a politician and accountant who serves as “designated by the President of the Republic, in charge of the Office” from December 1, 2023 to June 1, 2024, replacing Nayib Bukele. Her appointment is considered unconstitutional by the opposition and analysts, since they question the license that Bukele took to be re-elected.

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