A New Deal for the Americas: Forging a New Policy

December 6, 2007 - 4:00 pm

Room C203/4 (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

Joy Olson, Washington Office on Latin America

Vicki Gass, Washington Office on Latin America

Margaret Crahan, Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY

Joy Olson and Vicki Gass will discuss The Washington Office on Latin America’s recent initiative to help shape the foreign-policy debate in the upcoming presidential campaign and hopefully lay the foundation for Latin American policy in the next administration. To a number of observers, the U.S. has lost credibility in Latin America and may have failed to address fundamental problems and needs of the region. The Washington Office on Latin America maintains the U.S. must develop new responses to current challenges in order to reverse this trend. With the upcoming 2008 elections, this does indeed appear to be a crucial time to reconsider our relations with the region.

The Washington Office on Latin America has worked to shape U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America since 1974 and their reports on social conditions, security issues, and the effects of U.S. policy in Latin America are regularly cited in Congress, academia and the media.

About the participants:
Joy Olson, Executive Director at The Washington Office on Latin America, has a long-standing commitment to promoting greater transparency in U.S. military programs in Latin America. She has also worked to end U.S. government efforts to deport refugees who fled from civil war in El Salvador; to increase U.S. funding for Central American peace accords implementation; and to lift the ban on food and medicine sales to Cuba.

Vicki Gass, Senior Associate for Rights and Development, has been working on Central American social and economic justice issues since 1984. She has worked in El Salvador during the civil war, writing human rights reports and political updates, and in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch, promoting civil society participation in reconstruction efforts. Her current work is focused on protecting human rights in the U.S. promoted free trade deals and promoting sustainable rural development.

Margaret Crahan is the Dorothy Epstein Professor of Latin American History at Hunter College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. As of February 1, 2008 she will become the Director of the Kozmetsky Center for Excellence in International Finance at St. Edward’s University. She received her doctorate from Columbia University and from 1982-1994 she was the Henry R. Luce Professor of Religion, Power and Political Process at Occidental College and from 1993-1994 the Marous Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Dr. Crahan publications include over one hundred articles and books including Africa and the Caribbean: Legacies of a Link (with Franklin W. Knight); Human Rights and Basic Needs in the Americas; The City and the World: New York’s Global Future (with Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush); Religion, Culture and Society: The Case of Cuba; and The Wars on Terrrorism and Iraq: Human Rights, Unilateralism, and US Foreign Policy (with Thomas G. Weiss and John Goering).