North American Congress on Latin America
|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 a left-wing non-profit organization founded in 1966 to provide information on trends in Latin America and relations between Latin America and the United States. The organization is best known for publishing the quarterly NACLA Report on the Americas, and also publishes "books, anthologies and pamphlets for classroom and activist use". The NACLA Report on the Americas print magazine was shortly discontinued in 2015, but relaunched under the Taylor and Francis imprint Routledge in May 2016.
Judith Adler Hellman, former NACLA member
In 1966, the founders consisted of civil rights, anti-war, and labor activists. The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) was established as a group that performed research for the leftist group Students for a Democratic Society. The groups founders were inspired by the Cuban Revolution and had a goal 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.
The first issue of NACLA Newsletter, the publication that was to become NACLA Report on the Americas, rolled off a mimeograph machine in New York in February 1967. The North American Congress on Latin America, its fledgling publisher, had just come together as a coalition of “New Left” student activists. The founders of NACLA used the term “congress” to draw upon the spirit of “Congress of Unrepresented People,” a contemporary group of civil rights, antiwar and labor activists who came together to challenge elite conceptions of the “national interest” as fundamentally opposed to the real interests of the majority of the American people.
The new group, announced its organizers, would be a source of reliable information and analysis on Latin America that could be of use to activists. It would focus on systemic analyses of wealth and power in the Americas rather than on scandals or policy “mistakes.” It would be informed by a belief that what happened in the United States was integrally related to what happened in the rest of the world. In this context, NACLA’s understanding of U.S. policies and power was formed by looking at the United States from a Latin American perspective, through a Latin American lens. The United States and Latin America were operating within the same system, and contradictions in that system were frequently bubbling up and becoming visible in Latin America first, particularly those involving U.S. interventions that violated Washington’s self-declared democratic principles: 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; the 1965 invasion and occupation of the Dominican Republic. Later, the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende’s elected government in Chile and the U.S. role in the Central American wars of the 1980s would dominate NACLA’s agenda.
In NACLA’s first year, the group was given free office space in the Presbyterian offices of the Interchurch Center in uptown Manhattan. Printing of the newsletter, promotional materials, stationery and small pamphlets was also underwritten by the Presbyterians. Those in-kind contributions aside, NACLA’s first annual budget, including salaries, stood at just over $11,000. Sources of income were newsletter sales (about $200 per month) and grants from the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Division of Youth Ministries of the National Council of Churches. Few thought the group would survive long.
The 1970s 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, studying conflicts in such areas.
In the 1990s, NACLA stated that there was a pervasive culture of impunity in Latin America's new democracies. They highlighted the military consequences of the Drug War and criticized the neoliberal revolution occurring in Latin America.
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."
Today, with Latin American leaders and social movements confronting what they call 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 coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean along with an analysis magazine, 50 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.
After a brief pause in 2015, the NACLA Report on the Americas resumed publication in May 2016 as a quarterly publication published under the Taylor and Francis imprint Routledge. Content is managed by a small editorial staff and editorial board of academics, activists, journalists, and researchers.
Programs and activities
NACLA developed programs involving public debate and activism surrounding 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 with various conferences, seminars, teach-ins, and workshops to bring journalists, students, scholars, and others together such as The Media Accuracy on Latin America project, which involved a network of participants that generate constructive media criticism on U.S. policy in the region.
The Heritage Foundation stated in 1984 that NACLA "openly acknowledges its leftwing bias, even though other Latin American lobby groups have grown more circumspect" and that "despite the organization's theoretical ties to Marxist-Leninism, it can respond to the changing political realities of Capitol Hill". NACLA was also criticized by Brian Nelson, author of The Silence and the Scorpion, for having Gregory Wilpert and Michael Fox of the pro-Bolivarian government website Venezuelanalysis.com on their editorial team.
- Bagdikian, David Armstrong ; foreword by Ben H. (1981). A trumpet to arms : alternative media in America (1st ed.). Boston, Mass.: South End Press. p. 322. ISBN 978-0896081932.
- Frawley, Joan. "The Left's Latin American Lobby". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- "Journal Information".
- "Publications | NACLA".
- "NACLA Report on the Americas". www.tandfonline.com. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- Peace, Roger (2012). A call to conscience : the anti/Contra War campaign. Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-1558499324.
- "History | NACLA". nacla.org. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- "Interview With Noam Chomsky on the Crisis in Central America and Mexico". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- "About Us | NACLA". nacla.org. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- "NACLA Wins Utne Independent Press Award for Best International Coverage". NACLA. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
- "About venezuelanalysis.com". Venezuelanalysis.com. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- Nelson, Brian. "Response to the Venezuelan Government's Attacks on The Silence and the Scorpion". brianandrewnelson.com. Retrieved 4 October 2015.