North American Congress on Latin America
|Type||non-profit organization; publisher|
|Headquarters||53 WASHINGTON SQ. SOUTH FL. 4W|
|Location||New York City|
|Sponsor||NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)|
The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1966 with the purpose of providing information on major trends in Latin America and its relations with the United States. The organization is best known for publishing the bimonthly NACLA Report on the Americas; it also publishes "books, anthologies and pamphlets for classroom and activist use." It also operates "Media Accuracy on Latin America", a website which analizes US media coverage of Latin America. NACLA has been, for the last 40 years, the premiere source of information—providing English-language news and analysis not found anywhere else—for journalists, policymakers, activists, students and scholars in North America and throughout the world.
As stated on its website, NACLA's mission is "to provide information and analysis on the region, and on its complex and changing relationship with the United States, as tools for education and advocacy - to foster knowledge beyond borders."
NACLA intends to provide information and tools in order to understand the world and therefore change it. Through information/media activism and popular education, NACLA believes that knowledge is essential for change.
The founders of the North American Congress on Latin America, a "contemporary group of civil rights, antiwar, and labor activists" organized together in 1967 to challenge the elitist conventions of the "national interests" of the American people in order to express the "real interests" of those fundamentally opposed to those prior concepts. Rolling off a mimeograph machine in New York of that year, the "New Left student activists" who had just come together by its founding publisher, NACLA, released the first issue of NACLA Report on the Americas. The term "Congress" was utilized to carry in the spirit of "Congress of Unrepresented People," a liberal faction of American activists unrecognized or supported by mainstream American elites to promote the "systematic analysis of wealth and power" in Latin America by focusing on the theme that what happens in the United States has a direct relationship on the unfolding history of the rest of the world.
In NACLA’s first year, the group was given free working 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, the Division of Youth Ministries of the National Council of Churches and the UCM. Few thought the group would survive long.
U.S. policies and power drawn by the lens from a Latin American perspective would expose the parallel systems and contradictions causing powder keg events in the region. NACLA's intentions pursued U.S. interventions violating "Washington's self-declared democratic principles." NACLA's agenda followed the course of investigating those violations such as: 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
The next decade produced further research of U.S. involvement in the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende's elected government in Chile corroborated by the "fears" of socialism succeeding in America. That year, the NACLA Report called "Facing the Blockade" documented the President Richard Nixon's Administration's "invisible blockade" of denying 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."
NACLA's reporting was later dominated by the U.S. role in the Central American Wars of the 1980s. NACLA activists traveled frequently to El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, and brought the truths that they learned there back to the U.S. and to the movement to end the 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; brought the military consequences of the Drug War to light; and was in the forefront of critical coverage of the neoliberal revolution being imposed on Latin America by U.S.-backed elites and institutions. NACLA impacted activists and leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well. Rubén Zamora, a presidential candidate for the leftist Democratic Convergence in El Salvador, has said that he regards NACLA as responsible for the better part of his political formation. And 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 my gratitude to NACLA for its unflinching solidarity during this important period of our history.”
Programs and activities
NACLA has developed several programs to promote public debate and informed activism surrounding the major issues in the Americas in addition to its flagship publication, NACLA Report of the Americas, among other books, anthologies, and pamphlets. On NACLA's website, portals for blogs, interviews, photo essays, its own Radio department, and web articles are available for investigative research and journalism to support its bi-monthly newsletter.
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 to generate constructive media criticism on U.S. policy in the region.
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 has pushed NACLA's intentions to become a prominent role just as it did in the 1970s and 1980s. Utilizing the internet as a central role as an organizing tool and information portal, NACLA's new website intends to provide more and timelier coverage of Latin American and the Caribbean along with in-depth analysis of the magazine and its 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.