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Beatriz Merino, Peru's first female prime minister, to speak Sept. 1

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Beatriz Merino, the first female prime minister of Peru, will give the opening lecture for the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) 2005-06 Colloquium Series on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 4:45 p.m. in B45 Warren Hall on the Cornell University campus. The talk is free and open to the public and a reception will follow.

Merino served as Peru's prime minister from June to December of 2003. Her talk, "Leadership in the 21st Century for Latin America," addresses why Latin American politics have often resulted in authoritarianism and weak democracies, despite the fact that citizens often have felt dissatisfied or poorly represented. She offers a dynamic new vision for Latin America and suggests ways future leaders can prepare themselves for the challenges ahead.

While visiting Cornell, Merino also will meet directly with administrators, faculty members and students of CIPA, a two-year public affairs program for graduate students, leading to Cornell's master of public administration degree.

As the first woman to serve as prime minister in a Latin American country, Merino successfully conducted the Peruvian Tax Reform. During her tenure more than 28 tax laws were enacted in Peru. In addition, she initiated and publicized the guidelines for Peruvian State Reform. She ended her tenure with a 66 percent approval rating.

Merino now serves as a senior specialist in the Public Sector at the World Bank, based in Washington, D.C. She specializes in the areas of tax administration and policy, state reform, customs, the modernization of government agencies and the strengthening of Latin American congresses.

Merino also is widely recognized for her expertise and work with women's issues. She is the director of the Women Leadership Program (PROLEAD), sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank; a member of the board of directors for the International Women Forum; and a steering committee member for the Business Women's Initiative against HIV/AIDS. She has authored two books, "Peruvian Women in the XX Century Legislation" and "Marriage and Rape: Debate of Article 178 of the Peruvian Criminal Code."

Merino received a law degree from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in 1970 and completed postgraduate studies on taxation at the London School of Economics in 1972. She received her LL.M. from Harvard Law School in 1977.