Iván Chávez became a member of the Inter-American Dialogue’s President’s Leadership Council at its fourth annual meeting on June 5, 2018. Chávez is Executive Vice President of Grupo Vidanta, the global conglomerate of real estate ventures headquartered in Mexico. Those ventures include Vida Vacations, which offers private club memberships at seven Vidanta resorts along the Mexican coast. Under his leadership, Grupo Vidanta has become a global leader in the travel industry, and his relationships with other industry experts have led to new forms of artistic expression within the company. This includes Cirque de Soleil’s JOYÀ, a theatrical and culinary production experienced exclusively at Vidanta Riviera Maya, as well as a new entertainment district concept at Vidanta Los Cabos in collaboration with the Hakkasan Group.
The Council is comprised of key business people and other influential figures, whose aims are closely aligned with that of its umbrella organization, the Inter-American Dialogue. Founded in 1982, the Washington-based Dialogue has become the foremost sociopolitical center dedicated to inter-American affairs. The Dialogue’s 100+ members hail from the US, Canada, and twenty-one countries throughout Latin American and the Caribbean. Twenty-seven percent work in business or finance, while seven members are influential in the media. Over seventy have held political office, including former US President Jimmy Carter, who joined in 2000.
Despite the high caliber of its participants, membership is more than titular, with each member taking an active role in the success of the Dialogue as a whole. The participants’ collective role is to debate and devise solutions that will enhance cooperation between the Americas and increase democracy, equity, and prosperity in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, the smaller, invitation-only Council provides practical support to the Dialogue’s president on agenda and outreach initiatives. Its influence on inter-American affairs has placed it among the top 2% of US think tanks, according to a survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania. The British publication, Prospect Magazine, named it “US Think Tank of the Year” in 2014 and “One to Watch” in 2017.
Now, more than ever, the Dialogue serves an important sociopolitical function, with immigration and economics among the most pressing concerns. Rich in underdeveloped resources, Latin America and the Caribbean remain politically, socially, and economically challenged – or, in the Dialogue’s words, “the most unequal region in the world” in terms of social equity – thanks to corruption, poor governance, and mismanagement of resources. Rights that more highly developed countries take for granted – such as freedom of the press, quality education, and fair taxation policies – remain under-addressed. Moreover, political “ideology has become noticeably less salient” in recent years, with democratic principles giving place to the more pressing, practical concerns of running a country. Various articles reveal the extent of the issues that the region faces, as well as of the Dialogue’s commitment to finding viable solutions for them.
Grupo Vidanta’s commitment to the common good is also evident in the work of the Vidanta Foundation, a non-profit institution founded in 2005 by Daniel Chavez Moran, President of the company. Iván Chávez’s participation in the Council – and, by association, the broader Dialogue – is in keeping with the Vidanta Foundation’s commitment to improving the lives of people in Latin America and the Caribbean through democratic social change. The annual Vidanta Foundation Award is given to projects that have achieved outstanding efforts in Latin America’s and the Caribbean’s ongoing fight against poverty, inequality, and discrimination. Applicants are assessed on their projects’ innovation, measurable impact, reproducibility, and sustainability, which include the impact that the project is shown to have on the environment.
The 2018 Vidanta Foundation Fellowship is a six-month research residency in Washington, DC, on the topic of “Fostering Sustainable Tourism Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.” In 2016, tourism accounted for 8.5% of the region’s gross domestic products (GDPs) – making it the fourth largest market after construction, finance, and retail – and the future of the industry is expected to maintain substantial growth. While tourism has generated millions of jobs in the region, the Fellowship focuses on the impact that it will have on the region’s climate, landscape, biodiversity, and cultural and historical heritage.
Additional projects include ongoing research and debates on topics such as “The Future of Labor in Mexico,” “The Construction of Democratic Governance in Latin America,” and the “Latin American Council for International Relations (RIAL Council).”
Chávez joined Grupo Vidanta in 2007 after earning a BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, where he also double-majored in Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Development.