Bernardo J. Rico began as the International Republican Institute Director for Guatemala and Honduras in 2021. He and his team are focused on strengthening political institutions, civil society, and independent media.

Previously Bernardo served as USAID’s Executive Director for Financing Self-Reliance and as Deputy Assistant Administrator within the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) from 2019 to 2020. Mr. Rico led the LAC Bureau’s response to the crisis in Venezuela; alternative development programming in Colombia and Peru as a part of USG’s counter-narcotics efforts; countering authoritarian influence and private sector engagement in Latin America. Bernardo has more than twenty-five years of experience in banking, private sector development, Latin America drug and security policy and strategy. Through his banking experience in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia, Mr. Rico helped to invest more than $2 billion across industries. He is the Founder of the non-profit, SmartDrugPolicy. 

Prior to USAID, Mr. Rico was a Senior Latin America Strategist for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank. At the IFC, he established offices in Central America and served as IFC Country Manager for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. He began his work at the IFC in Washington, D.C., investing in telecommunications projects in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Prior to the IFC, he was a banker in New York focused on Latin America. Bernardo holds an MA in International Economics and Latin American Studies from Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a BS in Business Administration from Indiana University. From 1991-1993, he served in the United States Peace Corps in Guatemala. He is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese.  

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