2008 Latin America Workshops

Plenary: Moving Beyond Fear: A New Direction for U.S. Policy in the Americas

Despite promising to forge a new partnership with the region, the Bush Administration has persistently failed to listen to the aspirations of most Latin Americans, instead pursuing policies mired in the past and motivated by fear. In this dynamic plenary, you will hear how the next administration can rebuild the standing of the United States in Latin America through engagement, respect, and collective action to solve common challenges.


  • Panamanian Bishop Julio Murray, newly elected president of the Assembly of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), and
  • Geoff Thale, Program Director at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).


Envisioning Peace in Colombia

How can we promote security and rights for victims of conflict in Colombia? Learn about the innovative proposals for peace and security developed by and for victims of conflict in Colombia. Learn how we, and U.S. policymakers, can help protect victims and promote their vision of national peace. Stories and models from various communities will be highlighted.


New Economic Approaches in South America

This interactive workshop will look at the positive changes in South American economic policy today. We will look at regional changes such as the Bank of the South, the diminished influence of the IMF, as well as country-specific examples like the solidarity economy in Brazil and how Argentina recovered from economic catastrophe.


Bordering on Disaster: Social and Environmental Injustice on the U.S./Mexico Border

While the conversation in Washington about the U.S./Mexico border often revolves around threats to national security and illegal immigration, what many policy makers don’t recognize is that this area is also a physically imposing and fragile wilderness. The “war on terror” has led to legislation like 2005’s REAL ID Act, which allows the Department of Homeland Security to override important environmental legislation in order to build fencing and other infrastructure as quickly as possible. This engaging plenary, co-sponsored by the Eco Justice track, will examine the environmental and social impact of both the maquiladora industry and border security infrastructure on the people that call this dynamic area home.


Small Nations, Big Ideas

These small countries are shaking up international policy circles with proposals that include Bolivia’s guidelines for an alternative trade and cooperation agreement with the U.S. and Ecuador’s plans to shut down a U.S. military base and to leave 20% of its oil in the ground (with support from the international community). This workshop will focus on the role of civil society, particularly indigenous movements, in pushing a bold agenda to transform their countries and the continent.


The Merida Initiative: Plan Mexico Unveiled

In October 2007, President Bush announced that he would be sending a sizeable organized crime and counternarcotics aid package to Congress for its consideration. The package’s stated intention is to combat the escalating violence associated with drug trafficking and organized crime with $500 million in assistance to Mexico and $50 million in assistance to Central America. Popularly dubbed “Plan Mexico,” this package has raised red flags for many human rights activists, largely because of the troubling precedent set by aid packages like Plan Colombia. This workshop will examine the implications of this package in addition to exploring an alternate vision of border security that would include more funding to strengthen rule of law and protect human rights.


Guatemala on the Cusp of Curbing Violence?

Guatemalan citizens confront a wide spectrum of violence in their daily lives, ranging from intra-familiar violence, “;common”; crime, and gang violence, to drug trafficking and other types of organized crime such as smuggling and kidnapping that are linked to clandestine groups still operating in the country. Historically, the response from the Guatemalan government has been deficient in tackling impunity and improving citizen security. As a new government takes office, this workshop will explore the different strategies they propose to address violence and build true security, its support for the CICIG’s efforts to combat impunity, and ways the U.S. can positively contribute to bolstering the rule of law in Guatemala.

Photo (c) Linda Panetta. Used with permission.

Contributing Sponsors & Partner Organizations