Alumnus Heads Honduras

New president speaks at Latin America Conference

Recognition System

Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, B.B.A. ’70, takes center stage at UM’s Latin America Conference.

Gangs, poverty, political upheaval. Despite such serious challenges, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, B.B.A. ’70, struck an optimistic tone during his first visit to Miami as president of Honduras, in April.

The National Party member was elected by a solid majority in November 2009, after last June’s coup plunged the already turbulent Central American nation into turmoil. Lobo, who spoke at the Fifth Annual Latin America Conference, was introduced by Susan Kaufman Purcell, director of the University of Miami’s Center for Hemispheric Policy, which hosted the event.

“Given Miami’s role as the gateway to the Americas, it is entirely appropriate that the University of Miami’s first presidential alumnus head the government of a Latin American country,” she said. “Since taking office, President Lobo has worked hard to bring about political reconciliation.”

Although the Organization of American States expelled Honduras after the coup and has launched a High-Level Commission investigation, Lobo promises his government’s own Truth and Reconciliation commission report. “We want the world to know the truth of what’s happening in Honduras,” he told some 200 academics, dignitaries, and reporters in attendance.

The rancher, farmer, and former president of the Honduran Congress also vows to bridge rifts within Honduras and across other Western Hemisphere countries split over whether to recognize the new administration.

“My duty and my mandate are clear: to unite my people,” he said. “And I will do it.”

Lobo mingled and took questions after his speech. Asked to share a key lesson from his School of Business Administration days, the father of 11 said he learned back at UM that relationships are the most important part of leadership: “If you don’t know how to manage relations with other people, you’re in trouble.”