In 2011-12, the Mexico and Central America Program remained committed to strengthening engagement with Central America and Mexico through an active program of events, academic and internship opportunities for students, and support for faculty. Plans are underway for ongoing efforts in Cambridge to be henceforth complemented by the efforts of a staff member based in Mexico who will build upon existing relationships and establish new links between Harvard faculty and students with individuals and institutions in Mexico and Central America.
In Cambridge, the Program’s Seminar Series offered weekly presentations on contemporary issues facing the region and on different eras of its past. Seminars drew more than 420 attendees and included a seminar on the legacy of the Guatemalan coup, featuring Jacobo Arbenz and Juan José Arévalo family members, as well as distinguished speakers John Coatsworth, Stephen Kinzer and Richard Wilson. The Program also sponsored a working meeting with Alan Bersin, Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In addition, Guatemala’s former Vice President, Eduardo Stein, and former Minister of Education María del Carmen Aceña, visited the Center to discuss issues of civic violence and organized crime in Latin America.
The Mexico and Central America Program Film Series offered members of the Harvard community the opportunity to enjoy acclaimed documentary films and to engage in lively discussion with their directors. Mexico Bureau Chief of The Dallas Morning News, Alfredo Corchado, and Angela Kocherga, Mexico Border Bureau Chief at Belo Television, visited the Center in October 2011 for a screening and discussion of Luis Estrada’s documentary, El Infierno.
In an effort to reach out to different Mexican institutions and to the Mexican community in the greater Boston area, DRCLAS collaborated with the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico and the General Consul of Mexico in Boston to offer a 14-week, online course (diplomado) on migration and policy to 11 members of the Mexican community in Boston.
In Mexico, the Program co-organized a working meeting in December featuring Sergio Silva-Castañeda, lecturer in Harvard’s History Department, and Visiting Scholar Joseph Tulchin, at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). At this meeting, DRCLAS and ITAM convened a group of scholars and practitioners from Mexico and Central America to begin work on a book project tentatively titled Mexico and Central America towards 2020
The Summer Internship Program in Sustainable Development (SIPSD) was offered for the third time during the summer of 2011, allowing eight Harvard undergraduates to work in community development projects in underprivileged areas of Mexico. The program was launched in cooperation with the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM). The Center also provided research and travel grants to those carrying out work in the region through an exchange program with El Colegio de México.
In November 2011, the Center signed a memorandum of understanding with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) to encourage collaboration between Harvard and INAH in the conservation and study of pre-Columbian art and archeology.