Riordan Roett (born September 10, 1938) is an American political scientist specializing in Latin America. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in political science and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was assistant professor (1967–1973) and acting director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University and is currently the Sarita and Don Johnston Professor of Political Science and Director of the Western Hemisphere Program at the Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Roett is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and a former national president of the Latin American Studies Association. In 2001 the President of Brazil named Roett to the Order of Rio Branco with the rank of Commander. Fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, he is a specialist on Brazilian, Mercosur, and Mexican issues and the author of several books on Latin America’s political economy.
Roett has been an advisor to Chase Manhattan Bank. From 1989 to 1997, he served as a Faculty Fellow of the World Economic Forum at the annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Since 1999 Roett has served as a consultant to the National Intelligence Council of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is also independent director of a group of emerging market funds in New York City and sits on the advisory council of CILAE (Centro de Investigación Latinoamérica Europa).
Since 2011, he acts as Advisor on the USA and Latin America especially for politics to Fair Observer, an online magazine covering global issues from a plurality of perspectives.
On January 13, 1995 the Chase Manhattan Bank sent a memo calling on the Mexican government to crush the indigenous Zapatista uprising, stating:
"While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy."
The memo was authored by Riordan Roett who claimed it was essential, from the investor point of view, to resolve the Chiapas issue as quickly as possible." 48 hours once the memo was distributed, the Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo ordered a military (counter-insurgency) crackdown on the Zapatista rebels.
Selected published works
- The Andes in Focus: Security, Democracy and Economic Reform, co-author, co-editor (2005)
- Mexico in the Age of Globalization: Changing Domestic and External Dynamics, co-author, co-editor (2004)
- Latin America in a Changing Global Environment, co-author, co-editor (2003)
- Post-Stabilization Politics in Latin America: Competition, Transition, Collapse, co-author, co-editor (2003)
- Exchange Rate Politics in Latin America, co-author, co-editor (2000)
- Brazil: Politics in a Patrimonial Society (1999, fifth edition)
- Mercosur: Regional Integration, World Markets (1999)
- Mexico’s Private Sector: Recent History, Future Challenges (1998)
- Brazil Under Cardoso (1997)
- The Mexican Peso Crisis: International Perspectives (1996)
- The Challenge of Institutional Reform in Mexico (1995)
- Political and Economic Liberalization in Mexico: At a Critical Juncture? (1993)
- Mexico’s External Relations in the 1990s (1991)
- Paraguay: The Personalist Legacy, co-author (1991)
- Mexico and the United States: Managing the Relationship
- Latin America, Western Europe and the U.S.: Reevaluating the Atlantic Triangle, co-author (1985)