Dilma Rousseff is not only the most powerful Latina in the world… But, she’s inching her way to being the most powerful woman on the planet.
The 65-year-old Brazilian politician, who has served as her nation’s president – the first woman to hold the office – since January 2011, comes in at No. 2 on Forbes magazine’s annual list of World’s Most Powerful Women.
Rousseff, who ranked No. 3 on last year’s list, comes in behind only German Chancellor Angela Merkel, this year.
Currently at the midpoint of her first term as president, Rousseff heads the world’s seventh-largest national economy (GDP $2.4 trillion). Despite Brazil’s size, she has been tasked with helping pull the country out of its slowest two years of growth in more than a decade. Her emphasis on entrepreneurship has inspired a new generation of startups.
This year, Rousseff has a new ally in the first-ever Brazilian director-general of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, who was confirmed in Geneva in early May.
Maria das Graças Silva Foster, another Brasilenia on the list, ranks at No. 18 this year, two spots higher than last year.
The 59-year-old Brazilian business executive and chemical engineer serves as the CEO of Petrobras-Petróleo Brasil, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company.
das Graças Silva Foster last year took over the largest company in the Southern Hemisphere by sales ($144 billion) and market value ($120 billion). In 2012 Petrobras produced about 2 million barrels of crude oil daily, and she expects similar levels this year as it develops oil trapped in the Campos Basin in the Atlantic, one of the world’s most promising oil frontiers.
The third Latina on the list is Argentina’s lady in charge, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The 60-year-old Argentinean president comes in at No. 26 on the list, a drop of 10 spots from last year.
Fernandez de Kirchner, halfway through her second term, is facing some headaches, including massive street demonstrations and accusations that Argentina has been covering up runaway inflation by underreporting the country’s annual rate.
Meanwhile, the first Latina celebrity to make the cut is Sofia Vergara.
The 40-year-old Colombian actress and entrepreneur registers one of the biggest leaps on the list, moving up 37 spots to No. 38.
Vergara, who ranked No. 75 last year, is the top-earning actress on television and the face of a sweeping trend to capture the $1 trillion Hispanic market.
As a member of the cast of ABC’s Modern Family, Vergara is at the top of her game.
In addition to the show, her line of clothing and home goods sold at Kmart is thriving and endorsement deals with Diet Pepsi, CoverGirl, Rooms to Go and thyroid medicine Synthroid make her one of the most in-demand spokespeople.
Behind the scenes Vergara is a cofounder of a 17-year-old talent management and new media company, LatinWE, which pulled in an estimated $27 million last year and which recently launched a social network, NuevoWorld, to connect Latino celebs with their fans.
In May ABC announced that a new series executive produced by Vergara, Killer Women, an adaptation of an Argentine soap opera, will be in its Fall 2013 lineup.
Here’s a look at the other Latinas on the list…
No. 35 Mary Barra, SVP, Global Product Development, General Motors
No. 52 Shakira Mebarak, Actress and Philanthropist
No. 66 Rosalía Mera, Businesswoman, Entrepreneur and Billionaire
No. 95 Gisele Bündchen, Model and Philanthropist
Full list of the 100 women who represent agents of change in the world can be obtained on Forbes.com.