Writing Her Way Around the World
World traveler, journalist and economic analyst Rosemary Hussey Werrett ’62 recounts tales of her astounding travels and career.
Visiting with Paduang women in
Travel and journalism are the markers of my life – the former has fulfilled my curiosity about the world; journalism has allowed the opportunity to write about it.
I divide my life roughly into decades. In the 1960s, I devoted my time to formal education and free form travel – to seeing the world with scarce funds and no preconditions. I studied at the famed Science Po and L’Institut de Hautes Etudes de L’Amerique Latine and then took to the road, visiting the Maghreb countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Next I lived in West Berlin working as a cook before setting off on a hitchhiking journey through Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
After this incredible year-long experience I studied for a master’s degree at Berkeley (ablaze with anti-Vietnam protests) and then established myself in New York City. In 1968, I married a tall, handsome Englishman and together we abandoned our jobs (mine an economist with Exxon) and set off in a Volkswagen bus to drive to Brazil and Argentina, and back. During that journey I wrote articles on the fledgling bond market in Guatemala, Panama’s thriving Canal business, the textile industry in Columbia, politics in Chile and innumerable other business/political topics.
With her husband at the Opera in Hanoi
In the 1970s, I dove into writing and thinking about Latin America. I became the editor of the best known business publication on the region. As such, I had entrée to the highest levels of government: among other things meeting with Fidel Castro (who invited me to Cuba to teach his ministers how to write), President Luis Echeverria of Mexico, President Pinochet of Chile, President Geisel of Brazil and many others.
In the 80s and 90s, I answered the call of entrepreneurship. Together with my Venezuelan partner, I founded Latin American Information Services, Inc. We catered to multinational companies and banks, analyzing for their top leadership the economic and political risks confronting the region.
Werrett with former Federal Reserve Chair
Again, I traveled throughout Latin America, meeting with my twelve correspondents, interviewing leaders who were trying to resolve massive debt defaults, bankruptcies, inflation, devaluation, and recession. Brady bonds, privatization and deep structural reforms eventually showed the way forward. Among the many highlights of that exciting period, I traveled with President Fujimori of Peru through the Sendero Luminoso-dominated highlands. I met in a small group with presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton. I collaborated with an international news organization to write articles from Bangkok, Nagoya, Amsterdam, Guadalajara, Cartagena, West Berlin and elsewhere. I wrote as well for Institutional Investor, Latin Finance, Corporate Finance, Nation’s Business and many other publications.
In Jeddah with Abdulaziz Sager, CEO of the Gulf
I sold my firm in 2000 and became the corporate relations officer for the Council of the Americas, traveling again throughout Latin America and the US to discuss the key issues at stake in the US-Latin American policy. Then I changed geographies and the subject matter. Now I am with a think tank that focuses on the US, Europe, Japan and China, providing insights into monetary policy. This new geography has facilitated travel to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and elsewhere in Asia as well as to Latin America.
I have two wonderful pro bono involvements. One is serving as board member and former chair of the board of Pro Mujer (For Women), a women’s development organization providing business training, small loans and health care to 250,000 low-income women in Latin America. I am on the board of the World Policy Institute, a 50-year old progressive think tank that focuses on large international issues that can only be solved by cross-border dialogue among concerned leaders.
UMass was a profoundly positive experience and I am grateful that I was able to capitalize on it in so many ways.
Rosemary Werrett '62