Notorious Latin American Leaders and how to be part of this list

Latin America has always been said to be full of potential, but this idea is dangerous. Not because the continent lacks potential but because the very concept of it expresses the unfulfillment of its prospects. Many organizations have been working to ensure all of Latin America’s talent comes to fruition- one of them is LALA!

The Latin American Leadership Academy (LALA) is a non-profit institution that aims to find, connect and develop the region’s young leaders – giving them access to programs that build skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, social innovation, social-emotional learning, and critical thinking! If you want to join the following list of great LatAm leaders, LALA is the place for you! 

Therefore, it is better to remember that Latin America is full of potential and great leaders! Here you will find a list of some of the most prominent figures of different fields in LatAm.


Simón Bolívar may be the most mentioned Latin American leader. He was a Caracas-born politician known for his leadership in the liberation of South America from Spanish power due to the Independence movements. He also profoundly influenced the states formed after that and their structure. His journey in liberating the region was difficult, and Spain and royalists vigorously beat down any independence movement. In what we know now as Venezuela, they tried to install a republic twice, and in the region of Colombia, he and his army had to cross the Andes before battling. He proceeded to work with José de San Martin, and by the end, Spain no longer ruled over Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama. The Gran Colombia didn’t last, but Bolívar inspired other liberators in LATAM, and his ideas of freedom are still preached in the region.

Carolina Maria de Jesus

This Brazilian writer, born in 1914, changed how Brazil writes about and sees inequality. Even though Carolina only formally studied for two years, her diaries about life in the Favela do Canindé in São Paulo prove her belief in literature as an escape from the invisibility caused by the social vulnerability. Her most famous book, “The Trash Room” (Quarto de Despejo), sold more than one million copies worldwide and is a testament to her pride in being black and Brazilian while simultaneously showing the deep and excruciating pain of poverty and prejudice. Nowadays, her work continues to resonate with the fight for change in Brazilian society.

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Rigoberta is a Guatemalan social leader and activist, one of the only 60 women that ever won the Nobel Prize. She and her family are indigenous, part of the Quinche branch of the Mayan culture – they also were farm workers. After a coup in 1954 in her country, her family was persecuted and killed, accused of opposing the regime. Rigorberta, who was already part of projects for social reforms and woman’s rights, joined the Comité de Unidad Campesina and El Frente Popular 31 de enero. Rigoberta had to flee the country but continued her work for popular liberation. She has become a symbol of indigenous rights in LATAM and worldwide.

Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire was a Brazilain Educator work widely known for his “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” thesis, the third most mentioned in humanities-related academic works worldwide. He was born in Recife and initially worked with illiterate adults in northeast Brazil. He mainly believed that education should use methods associated with the students’ universe – with his “conscientization” concept, to “build critical awareness of one’s social reality through reflection and action.” Freire’s work and ideas have influenced education and development as a professor, after his exile during a military dictatorship, and as a Secretary of Education in São Paulo – Brazil.

Tássia de Matos e Gabriella Santos

Tássia, who studies Humanities at UFBA, and Gabriella, a Law student at UFRJ,  are young black Brazilian leaders that founded the AfroFund. They are part of the LALA community – both attended leadership camps, and Tássia is part of the organization’s staff for Admissions and Fundraising.  Their project, Afrofund, is made by and for young black students! They aim to reduce and remove the barriers between black students and educational and leadership development spaces! Reach out to them at [email protected] to learn more!

We hope these leaders inspired you to make a change to your community and the whole Latin American region! If you want to learn more about LALA and its mission of developing and supporting people on this mission, check out more on the website and Instagram! And subscribe to our newsletter to always be updated about opportunities for young Latin American leaders!

Are you a young Latin American who wants to connect with incredibly talented and purpose-driven youth and is passionate about changing your surroundings? If yes, we invite you to apply for our Leadership Camps from June 1st to July 10th here!

Photo by Bel Pedrosa

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