Peacebuilding and Urban Violence


Since Spring 2016 Duke’s CLACS has been working with the Sanford Latin American & Caribbean student group (Sanford LAC), with participants from the Masters of International Development Policy and Masters of Public Policy program, to organize events in the series on “Peacebuilding and Urban Violence in Latin America.”

The objectives are to discuss and develop innovative approaches in public policy to address crime and violence in the region and strengthen networks between Latin American policymakers and the Duke community. We see this collaboration as an important means for us to build ties with future program alumni who will return to their countries and become leaders there.

The first event was held April 15-16, 2016 and featured panelists Enrique Betancourt of Chemonics International, Wayne J. Pitts from RTI International, and Andrés Villaveces of the World Bank. Funding was generously provided by the Hanscom Endowment/Office of Global Affairs, the Sanford School for Public Policy, the Duke Center for International Development, and the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center. Read the report on the 2016 event.

A Working Group on Latin American Politics have been meeting since 2018 with policy makers regarding issues of social participation, electoral practices, localized violence, and governance in the the region. 

In April 17 2020,. a private session for a upcoming film on Migration of Indigenous youth from Guatemala to New York City (Five Years North, Optimist Films, 2020) was organized with members of the BASS CONNECTIONS project: Migration and Deportation among Guatemalans in the U.S. and Guatemala (Spring 2020)

Historically, migration has had an important cyclical component, with migrants leaving and returning home many times in response to family needs in their communities of origin as well as opportunities at their new destination. In today’s world, the circular nature of migration is often forced as governments are deporting millions of migrants every year. From the Turkish government’s proposal to deport millions of displaced Syrians, to the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to deport tens of thousands of Central Americans from the U.S., it is increasingly important to understand the implications of deportation for the migrants themselves, the communities from which they are taken and the communities to which they are forcibly returned.

Five Years North is the coming-of-age story of Luis, an undocumented boy in New York City desperate to bring the American Dream back home to Guatemala. Alone, he struggles to work, study, and evade Judy—the Cuban-American ICE agent who patrols his neighborhood.


In June 3, 2020 a Book Club featuring books of the Duke UNC-CH Translation Series revised twenty years of Self Defense organizations in Mexico. Our first book is Self-Defense in Mexico: Indigenous Community Policing and the New Dirty Wars (UNC Press 2020) by Luis Hernández Navarro.

Luis Hernández Navarro is a journalist and the opinion editor of La Jornada in Mexico City. He has a long record of covering social movements and activism and participated in the San Andrés Accords during the 1994 Zapatista uprising.