Burning Issues

The CLACS Burning Issues in Latin America Series features subjects of key relevance for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Spring 2023

Haiti in Crisis: The Search for a Way Forward

CLACS hosted Keith Mines and Louis-Henri Mars for a wide-ranging discussion on the prospects for international intervention in Haiti on Tuesday, May 30. Video available below for those who missed it.

Haiti in Crisis: The Search for a Way Forward, by mlr34@duke.edu


Haiti is experiencing one of the most difficult moments in its troubled history. In the aftermath of the July 2021 assassination of President Moïse, political instability and criminal violence affect all aspects of daily life. Gang activity has all but incapacitated efforts to provide food and medical supplies. Homicides and kidnappings have skyrocketed. Calls for an international rescue effort have not yet been answered. The international community is struggling to find a way to support the restoration of the rule of law, provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance, and strengthen the government of Haiti's capacity to govern. Join Keith Mines, Louis-Henri Mars, and Ambassador Patrick Duddy for a wide-ranging discussion of the current crisis, Haiti's most urgent needs, and the prospects for robust international help and what form that should take. Keith Mines joined USIP after a career at the State Department, where he was most recently director for Andean and Venezuelan affairs. In 32 years of diplomatic and military service, he has worked on governance and institution building in Central America and Colombia and in post-conflict stabilization in Haiti. Louis-Henri Mars is the executive director of Lakou Lapè (@lakoulape) a Port-au-Prince-based peacebuilding organization since 2013. Mr. Mars has worked in the private sector, as a business owner and manager of assembly and manufacturing plants in Haiti. He holds certificates in conflict transformation and dialogue facilitation from the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation out of Dublin, Ireland, and from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding of Eastern Mennonite University. Since 2007, he has been exclusively engaged in activities that foster peace and reconciliation in Haiti. Patrick Duddy is the Senior Advisor on Global Affairs at Duke University and Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. From 2007 to 2010 he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for President Bush and President Obama. Prior to this, Ambassador Duddy served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (DAS) for the Western Hemisphere. Currently, he is a fellow with the Caribbean Policy Consortium. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Haiti on the Brink: Chaos, Cholera & Corruption | With: U.S. Ambassador to Haiti (2012-2015) Pamela White.

Haiti on the Brink: Chaos, Cholera & Corruption, by mlr34@duke.edu

Ambassador Pamela White gave a brief overview of Haitian modern history from 1986 and how Haiti came to face perhaps its most challenging crises today. She offered some possible solutions to those complex challenges which are humanitarian, security, and political. Ambassador White spent 40-plus years serving the United States government overseas in nine countries. She started as a peace corps volunteer in a remote village in Cameron and ended up as US Ambassador to Haiti from 2012-2015. She served as Director of USAID in Mali, Tanzania, and Liberia. She oversaw budgets ranging from $200 million to $2.2 billion targeting health, education, democracy, and economic growth. She has two master's degrees and has been selected for several prestigious awards. Ambassador White holds the title of Career Minister, the highest rank on the Foreign Service scale. She is recognized as an expert in Haitian affairs and has appeared on PBS, and CNN testified before Congress, and recently published an op/Ed in the Washington Post. She currently serves on several boards including the School of Policy in International Affairs at the University of Maine.

Spring 2022
Colombia: 5 Years of Peace?

Five after the signature of the peace agreement, Colombia has achieved several milestones in the FARC’s reintegration into civil life (there’s less violence), but Colombia’s peace agreement still polarizes politicians and the public, and implementation is slow.

colombia 5 years peace.jpg

felipe de brigard – perdon: To forgive is to remember... differently

What comes next in Colombia's Peace Process?


Spring 2021

LATIN AMERICAN POLITICS AND PARTY COMPETITION. A new generation of Latin American Politicians

Three young politicians across Latin America share their experiences of some of the main issues affecting the region and how a political party is created and manage under current conditions. Namely, parties’ appeals to voters (particularly social policy), clientelism, corruption, crime, party building and political representation. The round-table counts with the participation of Tábata Amaral (Brazil), Carolina Pérez-Dattari (Chile), and Samuel Pérez (Guatemala). The practitioners’ experience may cast different light on the subjects of the debate and bring up considerations that have hitherto eluded political science scholars studying political parties in Latin America. Brazil:

Tábata Amaral, federal deputy (PDT).

Chile: Carolina Pérez Dattari (Revolución Democrática). Founder of Revolución Democrática.

Guatemala: Samuel Perez, Congressperson (Movimiento Semilla, Guatemala)

Organized by Mateo Villamizar Chaparro & Diego Romero.


PARO COLOMBIA | COLOMBIA HUELGA Movimientos sociales y luchas indígenas, by mlr34@duke.edu


May 17, 2021. 

PARO COLOMBIA | COLOMBIA STRIKES  Social movements and indigenous struggles 

Colombia entered into a general strike on 28 April responding to a tax reform presented by the government to congress to raise revenue amid the Covid pandemic and economic hardship.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in the capital Bogotá in addition to demonstrations in other major cities and smaller towns. While this year’s protests were triggered by the now-suspended tax reform, they are a continuation of nationwide anti-government protests which began in November 2019.

Indigenous groups have also joined in the protests. They are among those hardest hit by the continuing violence in rural areas, and the pandemic, where dissident members of the FARC rebel group, drug dealers (former factions of paramilitary units), and criminal organizations fight the security forces as well as rival armed groups to secure territories left by the rebels and never claimed by the state. Indigenous leaders are among those killed since the beginning of the protests (Indepaz).

This event presents visions of such events that brought indigenous groups, youth movements, and large segments of the population to the streets.


Laura Quintana. Director Department of Philosophy, Department of Social Sciences. Associate Professor. Universidad de los Andes. (Her work focuses on the formation of political subjects in Colombia from the perspective of social sciences and the humanities).

María Fernanda Fitzgerald Galindo. Journalist and producer at 070 / Cerosetenta (an independent journalist outlet working within social movements especially youth in Colombia).

Didier Chirimuscay and Piapya Fernández. Indigenous leaders. Movimiento de Autoridades Indígenas del Sur Occidente-AISO.


Moderated by: Miguel Rojas Sotelo. Duke CLACS

Organized by: Laura Vargas & Mateo Villamizar-Chaparro. Duke University & Mingas de la Imagen.

In Spanish with simultaneous translation into English.


Spring 2020

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CLACS invites scholars and practitioners who are able to present a fair and complex view of the issue at stake and engage in conversation with our student, research, and faculty body as well as with the general public.

The Burning Issues in Latin America Series has a long tradition at CLACS and has covered issues related to politics, journalism, the environment, security and violence, energy, governance, etc.

Past events include:

Colombian Ambassador Francisco Santos. Why Colombia? | January 16 & 17, 2020

Former Costa Rican president says progress of democracy is at risk in Central America | February 27, 2019

Crisis in the Andes: Why Venezuela is Different | March 6, 2019

Foreseeable Flight: How have U.S. and Central America created regions of displacement? | April 12, 2019

After DACA: Más allá de DACA | Más allá de la Deportation - Perspectives from the U.S. and Mexico | March 1 - 2, 2018 Conference 

A Conversation with Simon Romero (New York Times) | November 20, 2016

Journalism in a Crossroads: Latin America and Beyond | February 23, 2016