The Latin American Committee (LAC)

The Latin American Committee (LAC) is a new, student-led organization at the Institute for Global Leadership that is dedicated to promoting discourse on cultural, social, political, historical and economic issues in Latin America.

According to Sara Torres (A’20), one of the co-founders of LAC, “Latin American issues and current events have grown in relevance given their increased coverage in American media; this has helped spur interest from students who previously had no ties to the region. As a space that caters to all students regardless of whether they have a background in Latin America, LAC is a unique academic student organization that empowers interested and curious students to learn about Latin American issues through discussions informed by the curated material provided and panels with experts.”

The group has been active in terms of providing a platform to discuss Latin America through a variety of programs and initiatives that foster interest and awareness about the region. LAC members engage in weekly discussions on given topics, such as social and economic inequality, 21st century socialism, and corruption and clientelism. They also arrange meetings and discussions with experts in the field. LAC discussions are well attended, ranging from individuals that are familiar with the topic to people that had never heard about it but are interested. LAC seeks to maintain this level of interest in their future programming.

Migration was the first theme of this semester’s weekly discussions. Members discussed topics ranging from the Mexico-US border to the mass Venezuelan exodus, noting that millions of Latin Americans are currently on the move, escaping armed conflicts, human rights violations, dysfunctional governments, poverty, and climate change.

As a culmination of their discussions on migration, LAC hosted a panel with Fletcher School Professor Katrina Burgess, Professor Helen Marrow, Department of Sociology, and Mario Delgado, a current senior. Panelists not only discussed the macro-level costs and benefits of migration for sending and receiving countries, but also the harsh realities faced by migrants in their quest for a better life.

At the end of the semester, the LAC will be hosting a panel on “Gender Inequality and Gender Rights in Latin America”, which will explore the current issues faced by women in the region and the movements in response to these challenges. Participating will be Prof. Kimberly Theidon, the Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies and Co-Director of Gender Analysis and Women’s Leadership Program at Fletcher; Prof. Nina Gerassi-Navarro, Professor of Latin American Literature and Director of Latin American Studies; and Prof. Anjuli Fahlberg, Lecturer in the Department of Sociology.

The three panelists will each contribute to the panel with their very unique approaches to the question of “what are the gender inequities we find in the Latin American region and how are these challenges being mitigated by the women themselves?”

LAC plans to hold a symposium and research trip next semester looking at the nexus of populism and socialism in Latin America.

Programming Chair Patrick Belliard (A’21) said, “For a while now, there’s been a clear interest in the region’s contemporary issues with no place to discuss them. The club has provided, and will continue to provide, a place where students can address, analyze, and learn about the region through open dialogue.”