2014 Latin America & the Caribbean Workshops

Peace Walks and Peace Talks: Building Peace in Colombia from the Ground Up

Saturday, Mar 22, 2014, 11:00 am

With the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group at the negotiating table, there is real hope for an end to the war in Colombia. After fifty years of unspeakable violence, peace in Colombia shimmers on the horizon. But peace must be built from the ground up. This workshop will bring visionary peacebuilders from Colombia to talk with you about the peace process and how respect for the rights of victims of violence to truth and justice are essential in order to construct a just and lasting peace.


  • Andres Alba, Director, Justicia y Vida Human Rights Office Iglesia Evangelica Luterana de Colombia
  • Ricardo Pinzón Contreras, Executive Director, MENCOLDES

Perilous Journey: An Epidemic of Violence against Central American Migrants in Transit through Mexico

Saturday, Mar 22, 2014, 11:00 am

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants travel through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border, fleeing spiraling violence and poverty in their home countries. Many are left with few options other than to travel clandestinely through regions dominated by criminal groups and corrupt officials who target migrants because they can be exploited with impunity. Advocates estimate that kidnapping, robbery, assault and extortion of migrants generates tens of millions of dollars each year for organized crime, funds that are fed back into organized crime’s infrastructure, strengthening its ability to commit violence against both Mexicans and migrants. Brave human rights defenders and faith communities provide humanitarian assistance and work to protect and defend migrants, but consequently fall victim to targeted attacks from both organized crime and corrupt officials. Join us to learn more about the current situation and what strategies for solidarity are likely to be most effective in this challenging context.


  • Jenny Johnson, Senior Associate for Mexico and Border Policy, Latin America Working Group Education Fund
  • Mary Small, Assistant Director for Policy, Jesuit Refugee Services/USA.


  • Ruth I. Turaew, Program Associate, Latin America Working Group Education Fund

Communities of Faith Uniting to Reduce Gun Violence in the U.S. and Mexico

Saturday, Mar 22, 2014, 2:45 pm

Co-Sponsored by Domestic U.S. and Latin America & the Caribbean Workshop Areas

Across the country, faith leaders are playing a critical role in raising public awareness of the horrific impact that gun violence has on our families and building support for common-sense policies that can save lives from gun violence, including background checks and fingerprint licensing of handgun purchasers. The harms of existing lax U.S. gun regulations extend well beyond our borders, enabling traffickers to stream weapons across our southern border, fueling the violence that has killed tens of thousands in Mexico in recent years. In this workshop, panelists will discuss what communities of faith and conscience are doing to advance this bi-national issue. Vincent DeMarco will describe Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of over 50 national faith groups working on this issue. Eugenio Weigend will discuss the impact of US gun policies in Mexico. Rev. Jim Atwood, with 39 years of working in this arena, will focus on ways to encourage participation in the local faith community. Bob Baskin of the Peace Alliance will describe the Youth Promise Act (HR 1318), which makes an unprecedented investment in evidence-based, locally run prevention & intervention practices that engage and divert at-risk youth proactively, before they slip into a costly cycle of delinquency, crime, violence and incarceration.


  • Vincent DeMarco, Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence
  • Rev. Jim Atwood
  • Bob Baskin, Peace Alliance

Exploitation and Migration in Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Saturday, Mar 22, 2014, 2:45 pm

Haiti and the Dominican Republic are uneasy neighbors, and the disparities between them create tensions and conflicts that manifest in many forms: trafficking, forced repatriations, labor exploitation, xenophobic violence, denationalization and statelessness. Dominican and Haitian civil society, mobilized affected people, international organizations and institutions, and faith based organizations have all worked to resist these expressions of interpersonal and systemic violence, but while some transformative peace-building has taken place at the community level and between some groups, comprehensive solutions to these deep rooted problems have proven elusive. Come join this conversation to learn more about the current situation within and between these two countries, and how different peace-building strategies might be applied to this complex context.


  • Jasmine Huggins, Church World Service
  • Mary Small, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

U.S. Militarization of the Drug War in Mexico and Central America

Sunday, Mar 23, 2014, 1:30 pm

For the past several years, the U.S. war on drugs has included a militarized approach to trafficking in Mexico and Central America. These policies have led to an increase in the use of torture, violence against women, human rights violations and extrajudicial executions. In addition, by every conceivable measure (reducing availability of drugs, decreasing crime and the power of drug cartels, increasing public security, effective use of taxes), they have been an abject and costly failure. We will outline current U.S. policies and open up a discussion around alternatives focused on prevention, rule of law and human rights.


  • Laura Carlsen, CIP Americas Program
  • Michael Collins, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Kathryn Johnson, Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA
  • Alex Main, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Contributing Sponsors & Partner Organizations