Felix Maradiaga, a successful entrepreneur and former Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense for Nicaragua, has been honored with the 2015 Gus Hart fellowship.
The fellowship, bestowed by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs was endowed by the Hart family to honor Gus Hart, a distinguished cofounder of the Inter-American Foundation.
Those who are given the annual fellowship spend one week in Chicago interacting with business, civic, academic and media professionals in a program tailored to the Fellow’s interests and experience.
This past Monday, Maradiaga headed a roundtable discussion on Central American economics. In Central America, there are “scalable opportunities for business,” Maradiaga said, inviting global markets to transform this part of the world.
Coming to America in 1987 as an unaccompanied minor, Maradiaga crossed from his native Nicaragua to Guatemala to escape joining the army and the Contra War, ending up in the streets until he found a home living with local missionaries.
With the opportunity to get a life-changing paycheck for a day’s work, Maradiaga stated, “Creating jobs is the most effective non-violence tool” for Central America.
Containing the youngest population in the region where 70 percent of the population is under 30 years old, a huge divide in opportunities and expectations leaves us with the question: “How do we bring our youth back to Central America?” Maradiaga often asks.
The answer may be found from Maradiaga himself when asked about the progress for civil society in Central America and the Caribbean. Maradiaga hopes that, “Anyone can make a difference; you just need to find the world that needs your help.”
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