Global Americans friends, readers and supporters, Happy Holidays! At the end of the year, I wanted to give you a summary of our year and our plans for 2017. As you know, in September last year we started a new 501(c)(3), Global Americans, to work on issues of social inclusion, human rights and democracy-oriented foreign policy and U.S.-Cuba policy.
I have to admit, when we started Global Americans, we weren’t expecting the election results that we received on November 8th—though, of course, we weren’t alone. (Just ask Nate Silver and dozens of pollsters.) Whatever your party affiliation or support for the president-elect, we believe that it’s more important than ever to maintain a non-partisan policy discussion on Latin America and the Caribbean.
Global Americans has been up and operating for just a year and a half, thanks to the generosity of foundations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Ford Foundation and a number of friends and individual supporters. That support has allowed us to establish our website as a go-to source for opinions and analysis on the region, conduct research and publish on issues of human rights and democracy in the region, social inclusion and inequality, the effect of climate change on the vulnerable, and Latin America’s growing economic and diplomatic global role. As a result of your support and readership, in a little over one year Global Americans has become a unique, objective and research-based voice in the debate on Latin America, the U.S. and foreign policy—in a crowded, quality field. Below are some of our accomplishments this year and our plans for next.
Research: With support from the NED we completed two reports this year monitoring the foreign policies of Latin American and Caribbean governments and human rights and democratic norms. Our first report, Liberals, Rogues and Enablers, looked at votes and activities in the UN Human Rights Council, the OAS Inter-American System of Human Rights, and compared the human rights provisions and protocols of the OAS to those of UNASUR, the latter of which we found severely lacking. The report’s findings were cited in El Tiempo, El Nacional, El Universal, Miami Herald, NTN24’s Efecto Naim, and Foreign Policy’s Democracy Lab and helped shape a new discussion on regional governments’ commitments to democratic norms and institutions. Our second report, Latin America and the Liberal World Order, came out in October and has been presented to staff at both the House of Representatives and the Senate as well as to the U.S. State Department. We are currently rolling it out to U.S. media and, the Spanish version, to Latin America media. That report updated votes and activities in the UNHRC and OAS Inter-American System as well as examined trends in election monitoring in the region and the restricted (and restricting) space for civil society in countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, China, and Russia. One of our surprising findings in this longitudinal study is the contrast in Mexico’s liberal stance international forums and the current government’s crackdown on human rights organizations and freedom of expression domestically.
This year we also started research on social inclusion thanks to the support of the Ford Foundation. One project is examining indigenous political representation and participation in Mexico and Guatemala as well as the development of laws and practices to ensure indigenous communities’ consultation over policies that affect their culture and heritage, particularly in resource extraction. The other project is examining the existing and likely effects of climate change on inequality in areas such as health, food security and economic productivity and how governments in the region are preparing policies and communities for these impacts. (Spoiler alert: not much.) Both reports will be released in the first quarter of the year with the usual fanfare of presentations in DC and New York.
In addition, we are working on a book in collaboration with Florida International University’s Latin American and Caribbean Center (FIU-LACC) on U.S. policymaking for the hemisphere, drawing from policymakers from Republican and Democratic administrations.
Publications: Our website and newsletter—really the seed that germinated this whole idea—www.LatinAmericaGoesGlobal.org, has continued to grow. We now count more than 20 regular contributors writing on issues of U.S. foreign policy, trade policy, the environment, poverty and inclusion, and democracy and human rights. In addition, Global Americans staff has published regular “research notes” on the NED and Ford research described above and written for World Politics Review, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and The Miami Herald.
Our contributors from LatinAmericaGoesGlobal.org and our research have been cited in Latin American newspapers such as La Nacion (Argentina), El Universal (Mexico), El Tiempo (Colombia), El Pulso (Chile), and O Globo (Brazil). And our scholars, articles, and research have been referenced in: The Economist, CNN, CNN en Español, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Salon, Associated Press, The New York Times, Toronto Star, El País, Americas Quarterly, Reuters, The Financial Times, World Politics Review, Foreign Policy, and The Miami Herald, among others.
Our weekly newsletter now has more than 800 subscribers and is growing every week. It has a weekly open rate of more than 30%, which—I’m told by those who actually know—is above the industry average, and our website receives just under 20,000 visits a month.
In addition to our relationship with Grupo de Diarios America (GDA), through which translated Spanish-language contributions appear in its member newspapers, just last month we signed a deal with Christian Science Monitor and its Latin America Monitor site for the re-publication of posts on their site.
Meetings: We have presented our research findings in the U.S. Congress, the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. State Department, and the Council on Foreign Relations. This year too we started hosting—in a partnership with Tertulia del Sur—a salon/speaker series. Our first was with the OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro. Since then, we have hosted Colombian journalist Claudia Palacios shortly after the rejection of the first peace agreement and tomorrow night are hosting U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks. In 2017 we hope to expand our offerings. Please let us know if you are interested in joining.
All of these activities, and more, are intended to focus public discussion on specific, important policy ideas affecting our hemisphere. If you find these activities and themes important and of interest, we ask that you consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Global Americans. Our second year is going to be vital. This year we are seeking to expand our fieldwork in the region, deepen our network with policymakers and media in Latin America and expand our already original policy voice. For this we need your support. You can make the donation directly on our website (www.LatinAmericaGoesGlobal.org) by hitting the Donate button or you can send a check to Global Americans, 81 Prospect St., Brooklyn, NY 11201. Thank you in advance for your consideration. If you’d like more information, we’re happy to find a time to set up a conversation or send you further information.
Was it a little audacious trying to start a new non-profit research institute with little more than a website and an idea? Perhaps. But then, as now, we were convinced there is a niche for new ideas and focus on the foreign policies of the region and issues such as social inclusion. Was it scary? Definitely. But we’re happy to say, a year and a half later, we’re still here, not just surviving, but thriving and excited about our future.
We hope you think it was worthwhile.
For this, I’d like to thank our intrepid board members who agreed to join an untested endeavor. Thank you, Tomas Bilbao, Hunter Carter, Jay Lonschein, Gray Newman, Julissa Reynoso and our two new members, Ken Frankel and Ivan Rebolledo.
Wishing all of you happy holidays and the best for 2017.
Executive Director, Global Americans;
Lecturer of International and Public Policy, Columbia University
School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)