“Just the Facts” Conference: Security, Civil-Military Relations, and U.S. Policy in the Americas Today

On September 28, 2012, the Center for International Policy (CIP), the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), and the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF) held the first “Just the Facts” conference to discuss security trends in the Americas. The goal of the event was to take the pulse of regional security at a key political moment for the United States.

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Videos of the conference are available below, along with resources and powerpoint presentations provided by the panelists.

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View this panel with Spanish to English translation here.

PANEL 1: The response to organized crime and other citizen security threats
Faced with worsening violent crime, how are countries responding? When, if at all, is military response to internal security concerns appropriate? How is the U.S. government assisting countries that request help to combat violent crime? What is the U.S. government’s view of appropriate military and police roles?

  • Christopher Ashe, Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Helen Mack, Fundación Myrna Mack, Guatemala
  • Leticia Salomón, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, Honduras
  • George Withers, WOLA
  • Moderator: Lisa Haugaard, LAWGEF

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PANEL 2: The Defense Department’s role in U.S. regional security policy
How is the Defense Department using its own budget to assist Latin American militaries today? Who sets the priorities for this assistance? What are the pros and cons of Southern Command’s effort to become a more “interagency” institution? Is the U.S. military’s foreign policy role growing as many observers attest?

  • Stephen Glain, author, State vs. Defense
  • Lora Lumpe, Open Society Foundations
  • Frank Mora, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Moderator: Adam Isacson, WOLA

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View this panel with Spanish to English translation here.

PANEL 3: Human rights and U.S. security assistance
When human rights abuses do occur in the region, has the probability of justice or accountability increased? Does U.S. security assistance increase or reduce this probability? What has been the experience of human rights conditions attached to U.S. assistance?

  • Leana Bresnahan, Human Rights, J7, U.S. Southern Command
  • Stephanie Brewer, Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, Mexico
  • Col. Juan Carlos Gómez, Human Rights and IHL Directorate, Defense Ministry of Colombia
  • Alberto Yepes, Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos, Colombia
  • Gastón Chillier, CELS, Argentina
  • Lisa Haugaard, LAWGEF
  • Moderator: Abigail Poe, CIP


  • “U.S. Security Assistance and Human Rights in the Americas Today: This Much at Least Must be Done”, by Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group Education Fund [PDF]
  • “U.S. Security Assistance to Mexico: The Urgent Need to Stop Contributing to a Human Rights Crisis,” by Stephanie Brewer, Centro Prodh [PDF]
    • “Ejecuciones extrajudiciales en Colombia, 2002-2010: Crímenes de lesa humanidad bajo el mandato de la política de defensa y seguridad democrática,” by the Mesa de Trabajo sobre Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales of the CCEEUU [PDF]