Get Involved!


Global Latin America introduces our new Global Latin America Student Alliance (GLASA)! We are looking for outstanding students to form part of our inaugural board! Contact the our Faculty Director, Dr. Jamie Starling, for more information!


Who We Are…

Global Latin America is a collective of faculty whose work engages the global and transnational dimensions of Latin America and its borderlands. Together, we bring culturally-relevant global programming to the Rio Grande Valley community.

The Board of Directors

Bonnie A. Lucero

Founder and Director of Global Latin America


Dr. Bonnie A. Lucero is the Founder and Director of the Global Latin America. A native of the culturally-diverse city of Richmond, California, Dr. Lucero first cultivated her passion for international education while earning her BA from the School of International Studies at the University of the Pacific with the support of the Gates Millennium Scholarship. During that time, she studied abroad at the University of Havana, and completed an internship at the Organization for American States in Washington D.C.—opportunities that cemented her lifelong commitment to global issues. She earned her Masters of Philosophy in Latin American Studies from Cambridge University in the U.K. in 2009. During her doctoral studies in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she conducted research across Cuba and the United States, and won two FLAS fellowships to learn Portuguese in Brazil and Haitian Kreyól.

Since earning her PhD in 2013, Dr. Lucero has served an Assistant Professor of history at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, where she promotes the life-changing potential of international education. She teaches courses on the histories of Latin America, the Caribbean and the African Diaspora, with special emphasis on issues of social justice. Her research centers on the intersections of race and gender in Cuba. She is co-editor and author of Voices of Crime: Constructing and Contesting Social Control in Modern Latin America (University of Arizona Press, 2016). Her original scholarship appears in journals such as Transnational American Studies, and Atlantic Studies among others. Her book, Revolutionary Masculinity and Racial Inequality in Cuba (under contract with the University of New Mexico Press), employs gendered analysis to explain how Cuban insurgents appropriated ideas of masculinity to construct and contest racial inequality at the turn of the twentieth century. She is currently completing a second monograph on urban racial segregation in nineteenth-century Cuba. See more here.


Dr. Jamie Starling

Founder and Faculty Director of the Global Latin America Student Alliance


Dr. Jamie Starling is Founder and Faculty Director of the Global Latin America Student Alliance. He is an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley specializing in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands from the Spanish colonial period through the nineteenth century. He previously worked as a College Assistant Professor at New Mexico State University. Dr. Starling received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Texas, El Paso, and his research interests include Roman Catholicism as well as the social history of the borderlands.

Dr. Starling has published articles on intermarriage during the U.S. Mexico War (American Catholic Studies), Afro-Mexicans in South Texas (The Journal of South Texas), and Catholicism in the colonial period (Password), and has researched and presented at conferences in Mexico and the United States. His current book project, titled “The Ghosts of Mier,” centers on violence and trauma in the Mexican borderlands during the nineteenth century. Dr. Starling’s teaching interests include courses in Texas, Mexican American, Borderlands, and U.S. Southwest history as well as U.S. history surveys. He recently developed an introductory survey course on Mexican American and Borderlands history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. See more here.


Mayra Avila

Director of Student and Community Outreach

mayra avila

Mayra L. Avila is Director of Student and Community Outreach at the Global Latin America Series. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Borderlands History at the University of Texas, El Paso. Her research focuses on gender, migration and labor programs in Mexico and the United States. Avila is currently finishing her dissertation on women during the Bracero Program through oral histories. She is a McNair Scholar and the recipient of the Chancellor Doctoral Incentive Program Award. She is currently a lecturer at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.  See more here.


Affiliated Experts


Dr. Arturo Lopez-Levy is a political scientist specializing in International politics and comparative politics. His research focuses on Latin America, Cuba and U.S. role in world affairs. Lopez-Levy graduated from the Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales in Havana in 1992 and later pursued his masters’ studies in Economics and International Affairs in Carleton University (Ottawa) and Columbia University (NYC). He is a co-author of the book, Raul Castro and the New Cuba: A Close-up view of Change (McFarland 2012) based on his experience as political analyst for the Cuban government between 1992 and 1994 and his observations after living in Cuba, Israel and the United States. He has published several articles and papers about Cuban politics and economy, Cuban foreign policy and U.S.-Cuba relations.

Lopez-Levy is a member of the editorial board of Cuban Studies, the premier academic journal about Cuba. As a consultant of the New America Foundation and the Inter-American dialogue, he published extensively about Cuba’s political liberalization and economic reform in Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy in Focus, the National Interest, Esglobal, infolatam, the Chicago Tribune, and other venues. In 2005, he won the Leonard Marks Essay Prize on Foreign Policy Creative writing of the American Academy of Diplomacy. Lopez-Levy has taught more than seventeen semester-length courses in prestigious colleges and universities of the United States (New York University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Denver, Mills College, and others). He now teaches at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley classes of Latin American politics, American politics, Mexican politics, Russian Politics, and U.S.-Latin American relations.   See more here.


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Dr. Douglas LaPrade is professor of English at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He has received two Fulbright grants to Spain, and he taught at the University of Barcelona for eight years. He has published four books in Spain at the University of Salamanca and the University of Valencia. His books are based on censorship documents from the Franco regime that he found in the official Spanish government archives. In Spain he is a member of the board of the Fundación José Luis Castillo Puche. This foundation is named for Ernest Hemingway’s Spanish biographer. In Cuba he is a member of the Cátedra Hemingway. His work has been reviewed in Spain’s leading newspaper, El País, and in Cuba’s newspaper, Granma. He lectures in Spain and Cuba regularly. See more here.



Dr. George T. Díaz is an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, where he teaches courses in U.S., Borderlands, and Mexican American history. Díaz employs local stories to illuminate national and transnational processes on law enforcement and criminality. His award-winning book, Border Contraband: A History of Smuggling across the Rio Grande (University of Texas Press, 2015) is a social history of smuggling in the borderlands. Díaz shows how local actors contested state and federal laws defining licit trade in the hundred years since the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. His broader research is informed by investigations in Mexican and U.S. archives as well as a lifetime of living on the U.S.-Mexico border. He earned a post-doctoral fellowship as the Visiting Scholar at the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston, where he designed and taught a course on smuggling in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Today, Díaz actively serves the community through public lectures and outreach. See more here.


with resendez


Global Latin America is pleased to announce that we will be hosting Dr. Gregory Swedberg on September 14-15, 2017. He will give a public lecture on his most recent research on women, violence, and the law in twentieth-century Veracruz, Mexico. He will also participate in a book launch of the volume Voices of Crime, which he and Bonnie A. Lucero co-edited.

Voices of crime

Congratulations to our inaugural Global Latin America speaker, Dr. Aimee Villarreal for winning the prestigious Clements Center Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year!


Congratulations to our Spring 2017 speaker, Dr. Andrés Reséndez for winning the prestigious Bancroft prize! Read more about this impressive achievement here. We are absolutely thrilled to host Dr. Reséndez on April 17 and 18.


Past Events

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Global Latin America announces a public lecture and book signing by Dr. Gregory Swedberg on September 14-15, 2017!


Dr. Jamie Starling presented his work at the Museum of South Texas History in May 2017.

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We were pleased to host the screening of Sad Happiness: Cynthia’s Cross Border Journey, produced by Dr. Sonia De la Cruz of St. Martin’s University. Thanks to the generous co-sponsorship of UTRGV’s Office for Global Engagement and University of St. Martin, UTRGV students and community members had to opportunity to meet Dr. De la Cruz and discuss the documentary with her on April 27.

Documentary Screening flyer-page-001

On April 17 and 18, 2017, UTRGV students and members of the Rio Grande Valley community welcomed Bancroft Prize-winning scholar Dr. Andrés Reséndez. Nearly 250 people attended his public lecture. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates eagerly discussed his most recent book, The Other Slavery, the following day at the Roundtable.


Global Latin America was proud to sponsor one of graduate students, Violeta Hernández, as she gave her very first presentation on her research alongside UTRGV faculty and before an audience of over 60 people.birth-and-death-in-latin-america-and-its-borderlands-flyer-page-001

On November 15, 2016, Global Latin America faculty including Bonnie A. Lucero, Jamie Starling, Mayra Ávila, and Doug LaPrade discussed Cuba, Mexico, and the United States in global perspective in collaboration with UTRGV’s Office for Global engagement during International Education Week.

On November 9, Dr. Selfa Chew participated in a tertulia with Global Latin America, in which she discussed her most recent scholarship on Japanese internment in Mexico, as well as her poetry.


Award-winning author Dr. Kathleen López gave an excellent public lecture on Cuba’s Chinese community for Global Latin America on November 4, 2016. Over 200 students, faculty, and community members attended the event.


On October 20, 2016, Global Latin America welcomed internationally-renowned Cuban musicians to our campus to perform and discuss their craft. More than 100 students packed into the Performing Arts Complex to hear Gretell Barreiro and Yamil Reyes narrate 500 years of Cuban music history, and to hear them play samples of different genres as well as their original works.


Global Latin America’s inaugural lecture featured Dr. Aimee Villarreal, who discussed Mexico’s African heritage on April 29, 2016. She showed portions of her wonderful animated film about Estebanico, one of Mexico’s oldest and most mysterious historical figures. We were pleased to have over 100 people attend this event.


Inaugural Lecture, April 2016