Juli Minoves-Triquell talks about his journey into the world of politics
by Yaya Pineda
photography by Helen Arase
When stepping into Juli Minoves-Triquell’s office for the first time, the element that immediately catches the eye is the wall on the left side of his office. That wall is reminiscent of a museum, highlighting some of Juli’s biggest moments in his career. The photographic journey begins with his diplomas from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and Yale University. Following that are photos of him standing tall behind a podium speaking for the United Nations. Photos of himself with his beloved family proceed, and the journey ends with a picture of him shaking hands with former President Bill Clinton. That wall alone is a great reflection of who Juli is and what is most important to him. He is passionate about government, education, his country and his family.
Juli speaks passionately about both his country and democracy. He believes that society is best organized under such a system of government. Despite living across the world, he returned to his homeland Andorra just this year for their presidential elections. “I’ve always voted since I was 18, and it’s an important civic duty, I believe, to participate in one’s political system, especially since it’s a democracy,” he says. “I try to instill in my students the idea that it doesn’t really matter who they vote for, it doesn’t matter to anybody else but themselves, but it’s important to participate and make one’s own voice heard.”
Juli grew up under a government that, since 1419, had a parliament but operated as a democracy. For this reason among others, he is a strong advocate for democracy, but he studies other forms of regimes as well. In January the university’s department of history and political science held an international conference on monarchy. As a scholar, Minoves-Triquell enjoys the subject because by learning about other forms of government, Juli says people can better understand their own government.
Beginning of a political career
Juli was born in the small country of Andorra, located in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains and surrounded by Spain and France. The country is home to a population of more than 85,000 people, according to the 2014 census. It was in Andorra that his diplomatic career was launched. Initially he served as ambassador permanent representative to the United Nations. He then served as the foreign minister from 2001 to 2007. From there, he was appointed minister of public affairs from 2007 to 2009.
With an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and a Ph.D in political science from Yale University, there is no doubt Juli is credible in politics and democracy, yet he does not boast about his knowledge and takes pride in his humble beginnings. His family structure, much like his country, was small but tight knit. It was just his parents, his sister, and he. “I have a sister and she’s a bit younger than I am, and we have a very good relationship. She is very supportive, and I am very supportive, so it’s a good thing,” Juli says.
From Europe to La Verne
College is known to be a time of experimentation and crucial personal development. Many young adults pack their bags and leave behind their families, homes, cities and even their countries. Juli, or Julio as some of his friends and family call him, did just that and left Andorra to attend the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. Since then, he has given back to his homeland and continues to actively participate in its government and schooling system. Thanks to Juli, Andorra and the United States are partners in the Fulbright program. This program offers grants to Andorran graduate students to study at the graduate level in the United States. This was made possible through the efforts of Juli and former president Bill Clinton. It was at this time Juli took the famous photo that now hangs in his office.
Juli recalls his first experience leaving home. Growing up in Andorra, he was a part of a very tight knit community. There was no University in Andorra at the time, so he set off to Switzerland where he attended the University of Fribourg. “All Andorrans had to study abroad,” he recalls. “Now we have a university, but still lots of students study abroad in France or Spain.” It was not extremely far from home, but it was far enough to where he was on his own for the first time. “I studied economics and social science, and I had a good experience. I graduated in four years and studied very hard,” he recounts. “I’m a mountain person at heart, coming from Andorra, so it was not particularly out of my environment in Switzerland.”
Fresh out of college, after studying abroad in Switzerland, Juli moved across the globe where he studied at Yale University. Juli says he met many wonderful professors, who he still remains friends with, while at Yale. Juli’s Yale adviser David Cameron, still remembers Juli fondly. “He was, and remains, an excellent and perceptive analyst of politics,” David says. It was this exposure to all new things that got the gears in Juli’s head turning and opened the door to the many career opportunities he later pursued.
Juli was hired at the University when Professor of Political Science Richard Gelm was the chairman of the department. “We had a very strong pool that year,” Richard Gelm says. “He rose to the top and became one of the three final candidates.” When hired for the position, Juli was a candidate whose experience made him leap off the page. In the end it came down to three candidates, he and two others who were all highly qualified on paper. Ultimately, it was Juli’s warmth and adaptability with his students that landed him the position at the University of La Verne. “He was dynamic and cordial, we had a fantastic session,” Richard says. “It was obvious he was a brilliant scholar with a quick mind, and everybody hit it off with him right off the bat.”
With a passport full of stamps from traveling, Juli’s knowledge comes from both books and traveling abroad. “It opens the minds, it broadens the horizons, it allows the students to actually be confronted with everyday lives that are different from their own and in doing so it excites curiosity for the world,” Juli says. “As a political scientist, it is also very important because they are able to look at different political systems, compare them and be better prepared to understand their own political system.” Like Juli, Kenneth agrees that studying abroad brings a unique air or wisdom and experience that can only be acquired through travel.“It broadens your perspective of people and their governments,” says Kenneth Marcus, chairman of the international studies program at the university. “[Juli] is overwhelmingly positive, and it’s a real joy talking to someone who speaks multiple languages,” Kenneth says.
Today, along with teaching political science classes, Juli is the adviser and coach for ULV’s Model United Nations team. MUN participates in various competitions that essentially place students in mock situations as if they were representing a country in the UN. Under his coaching, the team has raised awareness about international issues on our campus, and they have brought home trophies for their exceptional performance in competitions throughout Southern California. “Not only is he well versed in what he teaches academically, he also brings first-hand diplomacy & foreign policy experience,” Kalyn Taylor, MUN treasurer, says. “As a former UN ambassador, he helps train the delegates of MUN for conferences and gives us tips on how to act and think diplomatically.”
He also teaches a variety of courses at the university, among them, a class about Latin America that political science major Michelle Gonzalez remembers fondly. “One time he drove us to Tijuana to meet the governor of Baja California when I was taking his Latin American class,” she says. “It was a day trip, where he drove there for 4 hours and met with the governor, then he took us out to lunch, and as we drove back, he stopped at the mission in San Diego. That trip has been one of my college highlights.”
Not only do his students speak highly of his passion for education but his colleagues do as well. He met Ambassador of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United States Claudia Fritsche when Juli was first appointed ambassador of Andorra to the United States. “After many years of experience in diplomacy and politics, he has turned to the teaching profession, about which he is very passionate. It is obvious that the students love him. He portrays youthfulness, enthusiasm, energy and dedication, all of which is contagious,” Claudia says.
In January, Juli and the history and political science department held the second International Conference on Monarchy. The first one had been held many years back, but Juli decided to bring it back. Due to its success and popularity on La Verne’s campus, there are already talks about having one next year at Georgetown University. “He’s brought international connection to the university,” Richard says. “In just every aspect, he’s just an extraordinary human being.”
Most people would be starstruck, and perhaps, at a loss for words while meeting with former president Bill Clinton, however Juli did not react in that manner. He is a humble man, and when asked about the event, he initially smiles and stares at the photo as if reminiscing about the very moment he shook Clinton’s hand. It was a great experience, but he does not boast. This gem of a human being sits in his small office in the corner of Founders Hall. His hospitable demeanor dissipates any potential intimidation. Going into his office is like stepping in front of a looking glass and getting a glimpse of his world.