For more than three decades, the Inter-American Dialogue has engaged its network of global leaders to foster democratic governance, prosperity, and social equity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our purpose is to shape policy debate, generate ideas and solutions, and enhance collaboration within the Western Hemisphere in order to meet pressing regional and global challenges.
As an organization both founded and led by Latin Americans, along with leaders from North America and the Caribbean, we work collaboratively across topics and program areas and convene the top minds in order to further the debate, identify solutions, and find ways forward. Our agenda-setting capacity stems from a diverse and influential membership from government, academia, and the private sector across the region. In their 2012 biennial policy report, the Dialogue’s members identified drug policy, immigration, and US-Cuba relations as the top agenda items in inter-American affairs. With sustained focus and commitment over the last two years, we have worked hard to generate debate and move policy in these areas. That work is bearing fruit.
The Dialogue has been on the forefront of fast-breaking news from Latin America and the Caribbean. In recent years, a spiraling number of drug-related homicides in the region, corruption that allows the drug trade to thrive, and widespread frustration with the US war on drugs have catalyzed new thinking on drug policy in the Americas. To better understand these developments and trends and encourage bold leadership on the issue, the Dialogue convened working groups on drug policy in Bogotá and Washington, brought senior government officials and other experts together for public events, and produced several articles on the issue in influential publications.
In 2014, tens of thousands of Central American women and children, including unaccompanied minors, flooded the United States’ southern border, overwhelming the country’s already strained immigration system. Last November, US President Barack Obama called the country’s immigration system “broken” and announced executive actions expected to protect as many as five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. To help foster knowledge of the complex issues surrounding immigration, the Dialogue issued a report entitled “Understanding Central American Migration: The Crisis of Central American Child Migrants in Context,” based on original data from 900 municipalities in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Dialogue experts also testified before the US Congress and convened Central American leaders to analyze strategies designed to leverage migration for development through asset building.
On December 17, 2014, the historic announcement by US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro that the two countries would re-establish diplomatic relations marked one of the most significant US foreign policy shifts in recent memory. The Dialogue provided context with commentary and ample analysis of the rapprochement to news outlets around the world. Just three days after the announcement, the Dialogue co-hosted a wide-ranging discussion moderated by Michael Shifter, who had just returned from a week-long visit to Havana.
In a region with fast-changing news, from street clashes and protests to US domestic and foreign policies, to plummeting oil prices and their effects on the region’s oil-producing nations or a myriad of other issues, the Dialogue provides analysis that fosters deeper understanding of a dynamic, constantly transforming region. The Dialogue’s core programs also bring together experts to thoughtfully examine the problems facing Latin America and the Caribbean and shape the discussion on practical ways to help the region move forward.