About the Program:

In Latin America human rights abuses do not take extreme forms. Except for Argentina's Dirty War, the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, Guatemala in the recent past and in Colombia at some stage in its civil war, genocide and other mass atrocities are not a current occurrence in the region. However, there are still many pressing issues that need to be addressed. Most of these are related either to the lack of legal enforcement throughout the region or to governmental abuses in face of weakening contending powers. In order to improve these conditions, it is important that democracies are strengthened and strong legal systems put in place or reinforced.

The protection of civil and political rights as part of a human rights agenda is crucial to the region. We also believe in the importance of promoting the rights of indigenous populations, as they are some of the most marginalized groups in the region. All of these goals come together under the ideal that human rights should be coordinated internationally, within regional and global initiatives.

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Our Mission:

  • Serve as focal point (promotion, connection, awareness) for Latin American Human Rights issues within the Harvard community.
  • Bridge connections with national and international organizations, both academic and non-academic, regarding salient human rights issues in Latin America.
  • Be a source for research and teaching themes at Harvard University.
  • Raise awareness about impending human rights risks in the region.

Featured Documents

The IACHR just presented its 2010 Annual Report. "With respect to Venezuela, the report examines the situation of freedom of thought and expression, the judicial branchs lack of independence and autonomy from the political branches of government, the serious obstacles human rights defenders face in carrying out their work, and the situation of violence in prisons, among other matters. The report also notes the progress achieved in the area of economic, social, and cultural rights, both with the recognition of education, health, housing, and universal social security as constitutionally protected rights, and with implementation of policies and measures designed to correct the problems besetting vast sectors of the Venezuelan population." In it there is also special mention of the Judge Afiuni case under the section of Politically motivated removal and persecution of judges (p.526-30) For the complete report please go to the IACHR- 2010 Annual Report page at : http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/2010eng/TOC.htm



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Your Ideas!

The Latin American Initiative is looking for more ways to engage the Harvard community in this region. Do you have a particular interest in the region? Looking to do Human Rights Internship in a country/area we have not announced now? Send us your ideas. Email to: leonardo_vivas@hks.harvard.edu



May 31: WBUR (NPR) News, The Carr Center event "What Happened at Dos Erres": a discussion of the December 1982 massacre in Dos Erres, Guatemala, is featured in this WBUR News article, "Father And Son Reunited 30 Years After Massacre In Guatemala."

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April 9: Leonardo Vivas, director of the Latin America Program, a featured speaker at "Understanding Venezuela, A review of the country's politics, the economy and social indicators": a conference sponsored by the Latin American Student Association at Columbia University.

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News Archive

The Latin America Program runs an

Study Group

This year's study group theme is
Contemporary Human Rights Issues
Latin America.

All are welcome to attend.
Find out more.

New Publications:

Journal Article: “Violence, Governance, and Economic Development at the US-Mexico Border: The Case of Nuevo Laredo and its Lessons,” Leonardo Vivas - Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, August 15, 2012.