Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao

Assistant Professor and Chair of Public Programming

Fast Facts

  • Assistant professor at the Miller Center
  • Chair, public programming
  • Expertise on Cuba, U.S.-Cuban relations, opposition and dissident movements, democratization, Hispanics in America

Areas Of Expertise

  • Foreign Affairs
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Domestic Affairs
  • Human Rights and Civil Rights

Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao is assistant professor and chair of public programming at the Miller Center. Her programmatic work centers primarily on Miller Center Presents and she served as co-editor of the First Year 2017 opportunity and mobility volume. Prior to her appointment in 2007, Lopez-Gottardi Chao held positions at Emory University’s Institute for Comparative and International Studies, the University of Miami’s North-South Center, and Barclays Bank Latin American Regional Office. She has also worked as a consultant to Freedom House. Lopez-Gottardi Chao received her undergraduate degree in politics and Spanish from Middlebury College and her doctorate from the University of Miami’s School of International Studies. Her dissertation, The Growth of Opposition in Cuba: Problems and Prospects for Democratization, was awarded the 2005 Alberto J. Varona Prize for best dissertation in Cuban studies.

Lopez-Gottardi Chao's scholarship examines the evolving nature of U.S.-Cuban relations, the state of human rights on the island, and Cuba’s opposition and dissident movement, considering prospects for democratization from this sector. The December 2014 change in U.S.-Cuban relations and the direct role played by President Obama in altering this policy has created an alignment between Lopez-Gottardi Chao's core scholarship with a focus on the American presidency and in particular, executive decision making.

Drawing on past research related to democracy promotion efforts via studies of USAID and other governmental and nongovernmental organizations, Lopez-Gottardi Chao is also interested in broader U.S. foreign policy questions. In addition, she is beginning research on the growing Hispanic population in the United States, and the implications this demographic will have on domestic policymaking and the role of the presidency in assimilating this core and expanding minority group. 

Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao News Feed

"These strengthening Cuba-Russia military and economic ties, coupled with growing economic and social despair in Cuba, should serve as an important wake up call to the United States and its Western allies."
Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao The Hill
The president and first lady, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, made a quick stop to court Hispanic voters on their whirlwind visit to Texas.
Barbara Perry, Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao The Messenger
With this week’s anniversary of the nationwide protests of July 11, 2021, Cuba continues in a precipitous downward spiral. The one-party communist nation continues to experience unprecedented rates of outward migration, protests and government repression.
Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao The Hill
On this UVA Speaks podcast, Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao, assistant professor and chair of public programming at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, provides an overview of Cuba’s political leadership and the current economic crisis.
Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao UVA Speaks
Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao, University of Virginia's Miller Center assistant professor and research director for public and policy programs, writes that "Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the July 11 nationwide protests in Cuba. Since that historic day, authorities have cracked down on anyone expressing dissent with the government."
Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao The Hill
In a surprising development, the administrations of U.S. President Joe Biden and Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro met recently to discuss what many assume to be Venezuela’s close relationship with Russia. They talked about the possibility of lifting U.S. oil sanctions, unleashing an alternative to Europe’s reliance on Russian oil supplies. What makes this move noteworthy is that the United States and Venezuela have not engaged diplomatically in the past four years.
Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao Miller Center Russia-Ukraine blog