Famous Latin Americans and Inspirational Quotes | Top Universities

Famous Latin Americans and Inspirational Quotes

By Hasna Haidar

Updated April 20, 2021 Updated April 20, 2021

If the recent release of this year’s QS University Rankings: Latin America has got you thinking about studying abroad in Latin America, you’ll be glad to know you’re in good company. Latin America has produced and nurtured world-leading thinkers and innovators across a wide range of fields, including musicians, actors, artists, designers, film directors, writers, politicians, sportspersons and philosophers.

Discover some famous Latin Americans below, and get some extra motivation for the next stage of your studies, travels or career with these inspirational quotes about study, travel, language and life in general.

1. Paulo Coelho

Brazil-born Paulo Coelho is a lyricist and novelist who has become one of the most widely read authors in the world, and one of the most famous Latin Americans today. His most celebrated novel is international bestseller The Alchemist, which has been translated into 80 languages and sold more than 65 million copies. It tells the story of a young shepherd on a spiritual journey to the Egyptian pyramids in search of treasure.

Find out more about studying in Brazil >

2. Frida Kahlo

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo de Rivera is best known for her self-portraits, her political activism and her focus on Mexican and Amerindian cultural traditions. Her works depicting women have also gained her the status of a feminist icon. Kahlo began painting when recovering from a bus accident which left her temporarily paralyzed and unable to walk.

To read more about studying in Mexico, visit our guide > 

3. Gabriel García Márquez

Born Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez, but known affectionately as ‘Gabo’, this Colombian journalist, short story writer, screenwriter and novelist is best known for his novels One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Gabriel García Márquez was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982 and is noted for popularizing the literary genre magic realism.

Read more about studying abroad in Colombia >

4. Julio Cortázar

Julio Cortázar was born in Belgium to Argentine parents but grew up in Buenos Aires, eventually becoming a novelist, short story writer, essayist and translator. A master of the ‘fantastic’ short story form, Cortázar is known as one of the major forces in the Latin American Boom – a period spanning the 1960s and 1970s in which the region’s artists and intellectuals gained greater international attention than they had previously. Several places in Buenos Aires bear his name, including a square in the Palermo neighborhood.

5. Jorge Luis Borges

Argentine short story writer, essayist, poet and translator Jorge Luis Borges is best-known for his compilations of short stories in Ficciones (Fictions) and El Aleph (The Aleph). With his works addressing themes such as dreams, labyrinths, libraries, mirrors, fiction writing, philosophy and religion, Borges has contributed significantly to philosophical literature and the fantasy genre.

Read more about studying in Argentina >

6. Pablo Neruda

Chilean poet-diplomat Pablo Neruda was referred to as “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language” by Gabriel García Márquez. Having written poetry since he was a teenager, Neruda was known for his surrealist poems, historical epics, political manifestos and erotically-charged love poems. He was also known for writing in green ink – his personal symbol for desire and hope.

Find out more about studying in Chile >

7. Che Guevara

The man whose face has become a countercultural icon of rebellion, Ernesto “Che” Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist who became a major figure of the Cuban Revolution. Undoubtedly one of the most famous Latin Americans the world over, Che Guevara earned his famous nickname due to his frequent use of the Argentine che, similar to the American ‘bro’ or the Canadian ‘eh’.

Discover more sayings in Latin American Spanish >

8. David Fischman

David Fischman Kalincausky was born in Lima and is a writer, columnist, international speaker and consultant on issues of leadership and personal improvement. He was a founding member of the technological institute Cibertec, and also helped found the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences (UBC) in 1994.

Read more about studying in Peru >

9. Pancho Segura

Pancho Segura is a former leading tennis player born in Guayaquil, but also a citizen of the US. Segura is only player to have won the US Pro title on three different surfaces. What’s more, he did this consecutively from 1950 to 1952, eventually also winning the spot of World Co-No.1 player in 1953 with Pancho Gonzales from the US.

Find out more about studying abroad in Ecuador >

10. Raúl Juliá 

Born in San Juan, Raúl Rafael Juliá y Arcelay was an actor who performed in Broadway and off-Broadway plays, in television and films, and in mobile projects such as The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. Performing to critical acclaim in Two Gentlemen of Verona and Kiss of the Spider Woman Raúl Juliá has been posthumously awarded a Golden Globe and Emmy Award for The Burning Season.

Have these inspirational quotes from famous Latin Americans given you the boost you need to pursue a study abroad adventure in Latin America?


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This article was originally published in June 2014 . It was last updated in April 2021

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