North American Congress on Latin America

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Abbreviation NACLA
Formation 1966
Type non-profit organization; publisher
Headquarters 53 WASHINGTON SQ. SOUTH FL. 4W
NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

North American Congress in Latin America (NACLA) is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1966 to provide information on major trends in Latin America and relations between Latin America and the United States. The organization is best known for publishing the bimonthly NACLA Report on the Americas, and also publishes "books, anthologies and pamphlets for classroom and activist use".[1]

For the last 40 years, NACLA has been the premier source of English-language news and analysis for journalists, policymakers, activists, students and scholars in North America and throughout the world.

Early history[edit]

The founders of the North American Congress in Latin America (NACLA) were a contemporary group of civil rights, anti-war, and labor activists that formed in 1967 to challenge the elitist conventions expressed as "national interests" of the American people and to express the interests of those fundamentally opposed to American elitism. Rolling off a mimeograph machine in New York, the "New Left student activists", with founding publisher, NACLA, released the first issue of NACLA Report on the Americas. The activists used the term "Congress" to express the spirit of a "Congress of Unrepresented People". They represented a liberal faction of American activists unrecognized or unsupported by mainstream American elites. Rejecting the "systematic analysis of wealth and power" in Latin America, the founders chose to focus on the belief that United States policy has a direct relationship to the unfolding history of the rest of the world.

In NACLA’s first year, the Presbyterian offices of the Interchurch Center in uptown Manhattan offered free working space. The Presbyterians also paid for printing of newsletters, promotional materials, stationery and small pamphlets. Those contributions aside, NACLA’s first annual budget, including salaries, was just over $11,000. Income sources included newsletter sales (about $200 per month) and grants from the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Division of Youth Ministries of the National Council of Churches and the UCM[disambiguation needed]. Few thought the group would survive long.

United States of America policies and power, from a Latin American perspective, exposed the parallel systems and contradictions, causing powder keg events in the region. NACLA investigated U.S. interventions as violations of "Washington's self-declared democratic principles" including the 1954-CIA orchestrated overthrow of the reformist Arbenz regime in Guatemala, the 1961 invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs by a Florida-based anti-Castro mercenary force, and the 1965 invasion and occupation of the Dominican Republic.

Salvador Allende, the 1980s Central American wars, and impunity of the 1990s[edit]

The next decade produced further research on United States (U.S.) involvement in the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende's elected government in Chile. The coup reinforced the American "fears" of socialism succeeding in America. That year, the NACLA report called "Facing the Blockade" documented President Richard Nixon's Administration's "invisible blockade" that denied Allende and his regime's "credit arrangements necessary for export-import operations". Salvador Allende responded to NACLA's book called New Chile in his speech to the United Nations by saying, "If you want to know how the U.S. has affected Chile, just read New Chile by NACLA."

In the 1980s, NACLA's reporting focused on the United States' role in the Central American Wars of the 1980s. NACLA activists travelled frequently to El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, returning to the United States with the truths they learned to try to end the U.S. government’s involvement in those conflicts.

In the 1990s, NACLA uncovered the truth about the culture of impunity so pervasive in Latin America's new democracies. They highlighted the military consequences of the Drug War and provided critical coverage of the neoliberal revolution being imposed on Latin America by U.S.-backed elites and institutions. NACLA influenced activists and leaders in Latin America and in the Caribbean with their activities.

Rubén Zamora, a presidential candidate for the leftist Democratic Convergence in El Salvador, said that he regards NACLA as responsible for the better part of his political formation. During the darkest part of Haiti's military rule in the early 1990s, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ambassador-in-exile to the United States, Jean Casimir, wrote to “express [his] gratitude to NACLA for its unflinching solidarity during this important period of our history."

Programs and activities[edit]

NACLA developed several programs to promote public debate and informed activism surrounding the major issues in the Americas. This includes its flagship publication, NACLA Report of the Americas, among other books, anthologies, and pamphlets. To support its bi-monthly newsletter, NACLA's site includes blogs, interviews, photo essays, its own radio department, and articles for investigative research and journalism.

NACLA hosts and collaborates on a wide range of conferences, seminars, teach-ins, and workshops to bring journalists, students, scholars, and others together such as The Media Accuracy on Latin America project, which involves a network of participants that generate constructive media criticism on U.S. policy in the region.

Current initiatives[edit]

Today, with Latin American leaders and social movements confronting the inequalities brought on by neoliberalism and rejecting the Washington Consensus, the growing movement for global justice pushes NACLA's intentions to take a prominent role just as it did in the 1970s and 1980s. Using the internet as an organizing tool and information portal, NACLA's website intends to provide more and timelier coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean along with in-depth analysis of the magazine,40 years of archives, discussion forums, electronic newsletters, action alerts, links to social movements and organizations, and a media analysis project to examine mainstream coverage of the region.


External links[edit]