The University of Maryland School of Public Policy and the UMD Office of International Affairs co-hosted Peruvian Ambassador Luis Miguel Castilla for a Maryland Global Leaders lecture on Thursday, March 31 in the School of Public Policy atrium. Castilla has served as ambassador of Peru to the United States since 2015. He previously served as minister of economy and finance of Peru and he was instrumental in implementing major reforms to encourage economic growth in Peru.
SPP Dean Robert C. Orr started the event by welcoming the audience and introducing Ambassador Castilla to the audience of students, faculty and staff. “Our guest is atypical in many senses,” he said. “Luis Miguel Castilla is a distinguished diplomat and former minister of economy and finance for Peru. You bring a level of expertise, but your diplomatic skills started before you were named ambassador.”
Castilla began his lecture discussing the challenges that have faced Peru in recent history. “Many Latin American countries are at a critical junction,” he said. “We’ve had some very good years—social improvement, high growth. Now we need to make sure the progress we’ve achieved is sustained.”
“Peru 20 years ago was mostly focused on drug trafficking, and now we’re focused on a wider range of issues,” he added. “Drug trafficking is no longer the sole issue. We face a lot of challenges. The key issue for Peru is to sustain the progress.”
He then went into detail about the short- and long-term challenges that are facing Peru. “The short-term challenge is how to be able to keep on the progress so there’s no reversal of the social progress we’ve made so far,” he said. “A lot of our growth came from reforms we made in the 1990s—but there’s still a huge gap to be filled to increase productivity to be competitive in global markets. Being resilient in this process is the short-term challenge.”
Castilla noted the need for government improvement to maintain progress. “We need to have a more effective government,” he said. “The capacity to deliver effective government services is critical. It’s also important to have more government transparency. Building stronger, more robust, open institutions is critical. We need to keep growing at a fast rate to keep up progress.”
Related to the need for effective government is the need for political reform, according to Castilla. “Politics is an issue that really has been neglected in many countries. These issues need to be tackled,” he said. “We can’t have strong economic institutions with weak political institutions. We need to not neglect the attention political reforms need to have.”
Castilla ended the lecture with an informal Q&A session with audience members.
Photos from the lecture can be found on the SPP Flickr account.
The Maryland Global Leaders Program is a joint effort of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, and the Office of International Affairs.