Category: Featured News, News

Title: CLAS Fall 2020: A Semester in Review

The Center for Latin American Studies has had a wonderful semester engaging with our students and the Washington D.C. community virtually. Throughout the last months, CLAS sponsored or co-sponsored six engaging events with speakers from all over the U.S. and Latin America focusing on topics such as race and  policing in Latin America, women’s leadership in the region, gang violence, and migration. We are excited to share recordings of most of these events below. All of these videos can also be found on our Facebook. CLAS has also been keeping close track of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Latin America and the Caribbean with our project, the Latin America and Caribbean COVID-19 Map, LACCOM.

Thank you to our CLAS community, which continues to show its enthusiasm and commitment to the region, for staying engaged despite unprecedented times.

Michelle Bachelet: Human Rights and Women’s Leadership in Latin America in the Age of COVID-19

Watch the Bachelet event here.

On December 1, 2020 students and key leaders from Georgetown University, in partnership with the Center for Latin American Studies, spoke with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet about Human Rights and Women’s Leadership in Latin America in the Age of COVID-19.

Race and Policing in Latin America

Watch the Race and Policing event here.

In recent decades, race-related police violence in Latin America and the Caribbean has received increasing attention; such violence shows signs of having risen during the pandemic. How should this trend be understood in the context of the region’s legacies of authoritarian rule, corruption, impunity, socio-economic inequality and racism? And how is Latin America’s experience similar or different to patterns seen in the United States in recent years?

Please join the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at Georgetown University and the Washington Office On Latin America (WOLA) in a conversation with three afro-latina leaders from Brazil, Colombia and Honduras who will reflect on the realities of race and police brutality in Latin America and the Caribbean in the time of COVID-19.

Featuring Panelists:

Charo Mina-Rojas, National Coordinator of Advocacy and Outreach for the Black Communities Process (Proceso de Comunidades Negras)

Alexandra Montgomery, Programme Director for Amnesty International Brazil

Sendy Suazo, Educational Researcher of Transnationalism of the Garifuna and Afrodescendiente

Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Director for the Andes, Washington Office on Latin America

Salvadoran Immigrants in Washington, D.C., A Conversation with Professor Patrick Scallen (History PhD ’19)

Watch the event with Professor Patrick Scallen here.

Professor Patrick Scallen joined CLAS to speak about the Salvadoran population in D.C. Salvadorans—D.C.’s largest immigrant population—migrated from a country wracked by economic disparity, social inequality, dashed democratic hopes, and government-perpetrated mass killings. Yet they managed to survive and craft community in the US capital during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, in part by links with the D.C.-based religious leaders, politicians, and community members in the Sanctuary movement and Central American solidarity movement. Their community organizing would produce agencies that protect Salvadoran immigrants from deportation and fight for their civil rights. At the same time, Salvadoran immigrants developed relationships with the city’s growing Latino community as well as with its African American majority, in the context of growing racial tensions on the street, in public schools, and at city hall, including the spate of urban unrest that rocked D.C.’s multiethnic neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant in early 1991. In the aftermath of the Mt. Pleasant riots, Salvadoran activism has continued within the broader context of a rapidly changing national capital region.

Latin American Elections 2020-2021: Human Rights, COVID-19, and Hope on the Ballots

This event in partnership with Freedom House focused on electoral processes in the LAC region occurring in 2020-2021 and analyzed them through the lens of human rights, COVID-19, and freedoms, touching upon Freedom House’s Freedom in the World and Freedom on the Net reports. Primarily, discussion and analysis focused on the Venezuelan parliamentary elections on December 6, 2020.

Additionally, the panel addressed upcoming electoral processes in other countries including the Bolivian local elections in early 2021, the Ecuadoran general elections in February 2021, the Salvadoran legislative elections in March 2021, and the Nicaraguan general elections in November 2021. Especially in the context of democratic backsliding during COVID-19, these elections will have a significant impact on regional governance, human rights and freedoms.


Isabel Linzer, Research Analyst for Technology and Democracy at Freedom House

Jo Moley, Senior Program Associate on the Latin America and the Caribbean team’s Venezuela portfolio

Gerardo Berthin, Director of Freedom House’s Latin America and the Caribbean team


Professor Diana Kapiszewski, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor at Georgetown University

Migration in the Americas

Watch the Migration in the  Americas event here. 

The panel, hosted by the Center for the Latin American Studies and the Institute for the Study of International Migration on Oct. 22, examined the current situation of migration in the Americas and prospects for migration in the coming months, especially in light of the coming U.S. presidential elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, seasonal changes, and ongoing political and economic developments in the region. Particular attention was paid to the US-Mexico border region, the impact of Venezuelan refugees throughout the Americas, and the challenges facing Central American migrants and asylum seekers.

Featuring Panelists:

Andrew Selee, President of the Migration Policy Institute

Silvia Elena Giorguli Saucedo, President of El Colegio de México (Colmex)

Katharine Donato, Donald G. Herzberg Professor of International Migration, Director, Institute for the Study of International Migration


Fr. Matthew Carnes, Director, Center for Latin American Studies

Steven Dudley, Book Discussion MS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang

Find more information on Steven Dudley here.

MS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang tells the story of the creation and spread of the gang as seen through the lives of several of its members, as well as numerous law enforcement struggling to mitigate its influence. With an estimated ten thousand members operating in dozens of states and linked to thousands of murders each year in the US and abroad, the MS-13 is one of the most infamous gangs on earth. But it is also misunderstood. It is less a hierarchical drug cartel than a hand-to-mouth, loosely knit criminal organization whose violent ethos serves to reinforce its social bonds, which is its true beating heart. Journalist and longtime organized crime investigator Steven Dudley spent ten years investigating the gang and brings readers inside the group to tell a larger story of how a flawed US and Central American policy, and exploitative and unequal economic systems in the United States and abroad have helped foster the gang and sustain it.