CLALS | Democracy & Justice


  • Latin American/Latino Studies
    Fax: 202-885-6430
    4545 42nd Street, Room 308

    Stinchcomb, Dennis A
    Program Manager

Mailing Address

Accounting today for 17% of the U.S. population, Latinos are unevenly represented in political institutions at the national, state and local levels. Their opportunities for political participation are shaped by differences in legal status as well as by barriers of racial and ethnic discrimination and social class. CLALS aims to foster research that will facilitate the full-fledged incorporation of the Latino population into American democracy.

Despite the establishment of civilian governments in most of Latin America over the past three decades, fulfilling the promise of democracy remains at the heart of public concern and scholarly research throughout the region. The Center aims to illuminate prospects for strengthening representation, participation and conflict mediation in contemporary Latin America, and for enhancing the quality of democracy in ways that can contribute to the construction of citizenship in societies that have long been plagued by polarization, exclusion and arbitrary rule.

Current Initiatives

Religion and Violence in Latin America

CLALS is currently engaged in a two-year project of research and structured dialogues on religion in Latin America, supported by an award of $375,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation. The project examines the response of religious institutions to different forms of violence in conditions of dictatorship and democracy in Latin America. Led by CLALS Research Scholar Alexander Wilde and CLALS Director Eric Hershberg, it engages scholars, religious practitioners and policy makers on the evolution and significance of religious responses in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru. (Learn more)

Infiltrados: A chronicle of corruption in the National Civilian Police of El Salvador

Corruption and the infiltration by organized crime of public institutions in Central America is an unaddressed issue, one that lies at the core of the increasing violence and democratic instability that has afflicted the region in the last decade. Through archival and field research, AU Research Fellow Héctor Silva is documenting the infiltration of Salvador's national police force, the Policia Nacional Civil. (Learn more)

Reconfiguration of Elites and the Exercise of Power in Central America

In collaboration with leading researchers and research institutions in the region including the Universidad Rafael Landívar and the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales – Costa Rica (FLACSO-CR), CLALS is engaged in an ambitious project about the composition and role of Central American elites who have long played a leading role in shaping the political and economic landscape of Central America. This two-year program of research, dialogue, and publication is funded by the Ford Foundation. (Learn more)

InSight Crime: A Web-based Clearinghouse on Organized Crime in the Americas

Organized crime undermines governments from El Salvador to Haiti. It fuels Colombia’s 45-year-old war and is infiltrating the Venezuelan army. It is financing the resurgence of the Shining Path rebel movement in Peru and tearing apart Mexico’s social fabric. CLALS hosts the U.S.-based office of InSight Crime, a web-based clearinghouse of information and analysis on organized crime in Latin America that serves as a resource for scholars, governments, businesses, journalists and NGOs. (Learn more)

Extractive Industries in Latin America: Challenges for Environmental Law, Regulation and Enforcement

As demand for fossil fuels and minerals has exploded globally in recent years, many Latin American governments have come to see extractive industries as central to their development prospects. Yet critics worry that many countries are failing to strike a balance between the economic benefits of extractive industry growth and the costs in terms of environmental degradation, community displacement and social conflict. To assess these concerns, CLALS and the WCL Program for International and Comparative Environmental Law convened a group of experts to discuss the current legal and regulatory landscape and to identify areas of potential future research. (Learn more)

Archived Initiatives

New Institutions of Participatory Democracy in Latin America

A project co-organized by CLALS and the University of British Columbia’s Andean Democracy Research Network brought scholars from the U.S., Canada, and Latin America together to examine the tensions and complementarities between democratic representative institutions and emerging mechanisms of direct participation, through analyses of case studies in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay. (Learn more)

Quick Links

Picture of a women's rights march in El Salvador

Photo by Bill Gentile

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