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The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) is a
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Washington Metro, Air and Space Museum, White House, ...
-based
non-governmental organization upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience at the launch of the "Europe in a suitcase" project by two NGOs (the EGI and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation), which aims to increase ...
(NGO) founded in 1975. The organization can draw on a large number of interns of graduate and undergraduate students, who gain experience in different fields additionally receiving academic credit from their home institutions. COHA also attracts retired government employees who support COHA in preparing
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s on a variety of topics including regional development, trade policies, and the international lending agencies' controversial development strategies. Further support is provided by a number of COHA senior research fellows of different nationalities including the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...
and
Latin America * pt, América Latina, link=no , image = Latin America (orthographic projection).svg , area = , population = ( est.) , density = , religions = , demonym = Latin American , countries = 20 , dependencies = 14 , languages = Romance languages Ot ...
, who are experts in their respective fields of engagement.


History

According to the group's website, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs was founded in 1975 to promote the common interests of the American hemisphere, to take regional issues into focus and to reinforce the importance of inter-American relations. One focus is the development of a constructive US policy with regards to the
Latin America * pt, América Latina, link=no , image = Latin America (orthographic projection).svg , area = , population = ( est.) , density = , religions = , demonym = Latin American , countries = 20 , dependencies = 14 , languages = Romance languages Ot ...
n countries. COHA decided in 1982 that in the future it will observe
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering , making it the world's second-largest country by total ...

Canada
's relations with Latin America. Since its inception, the leadership of the COHA is made up of representatives of major
trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English), often simply called a union, is an organization of workers who have come together to achieve many common goals, such as protecting the integrity of their trade, improving safety standards, a ...
s, organizations, and religious groups, and also includes important civic and academic figures. COHA supports representative democracy and pluralistic institutions. COHA is non-partisan and is not part of political alliances. It supports open and democratic political processes and continues to condemn authoritarian regimes of whatever political orientation, that subject their populations to their own political agendas, curtailing economic growth and development, disregarding
social justice Social justice is the relation of balance between individuals and society measured by comparing distribution of wealth differences, from personal liberties to fair privilege opportunities. In Western as well as in older Asian cultures, the conce ...
and the right to physical integrity as well as withholding civil rights. In the past, the COHA has expressed criticism of US policy towards
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ); french: Haïti ; officially the Republic of Haiti (; ) and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jama ...
,
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Car ...
,
Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and many islands and islets in the Ca ...
and neo-liberal social reforms in Latin America. It also criticized that the US entered into the
NAFTA The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA; es, Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, TLCAN; french: Accord de libre-échange nord-américain, ALÉNA) was an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States that created ...
with (
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering , making it the world's second-largest country by total ...

Canada
and)
Mexico Mexico ( es, México ; Nahuan languages: ), officially the United Mexican States (; EUM ), is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to ...
while Mexico was still a country rife with
endemic Endemism is the state of a species being native to a single defined geographic location, such as an island, state, nation, country or other defined zone; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found else ...
corruption Corruption, as defined by the World Bank, is a form of dishonesty or criminal offense undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, to acquire illicit benefit or abuse power for one's private gain. Corruption ma ...
, true
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which the people have the authority to choose their governing legislators. The decisions on who is considered par ...

democracy
still desiring in its institutions and its trade unions still deprived of equality rights. Their credo was that it should have never been entered into until
Mexican Mexican may refer to: Mexico and its culture *Being related to, from, or connected to the country of Mexico, in North America ** Being related to the State of Mexico, one of the 32 federal entities of Mexico ** Culture of Mexico *** Mexican cuisi ...
institutions were truly
democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy, or democratic government; a form of government involving rule by the people. *A member of a Democratic Party: **Democratic Party (United States) (D) **Democratic Party (Cy ...

democratic
, its trade unions could freely negotiate as equals, and the government had been cleansed of endemic
corruption Corruption, as defined by the World Bank, is a form of dishonesty or criminal offense undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, to acquire illicit benefit or abuse power for one's private gain. Corruption ma ...
. COHA also continues to bring to light the random application of structural adjustments which badly affect the poorest of the poor of the Latin America population. COHA has investigated issues such as unproductive
U.S. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...
pressure on President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Aristide of
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ); french: Haïti ; officially the Republic of Haiti (; ) and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jama ...
which ended in him being overturned and Washington (state), Washington's installing an ill-fated interim regime in his place.


Director

Larry Birns was the director of COHA from its founding in 1975 until his death in 2018. Birns was a former defense researcher, strategist, and member of the Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and a member of Oxford's All Souls College. Birns was also a senior grade public affairs officer for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America in Santiago, Chile during the Salvador Allende, Allende government. Birns taught and lectured for 15 years in the fields of Latin American studies, comparative government, and international law at a number of U.S. and British colleges and universities.


Reception

''The Boston Globe'' describes Birns as a lobbyist and a Leftist Modern liberalism in the United States, liberal critic of U.S. policy, and ''The New York Times'' says the Council on Hemispheric Affairs is a liberal research group specializing in United States-Latin America relations. The ''Los Angeles Times'' describes the COHA as a liberal think tank. The Heritage Foundation stated that the Council on Hemispheric Affairs had a leftist positioning, would exaggerate negative publicity about right-wing governments in Latin America, and was funded by Orlando Letelier. The council was also described as a leftist lobby by Ofira Seliktar in ''Failing the Crystal Ball Test''.


Funding

The conservative Heritage Foundation has alleged the Council on Hemispheric Affairs was founded with assistance from Orlando Letelier and Richard Barnet of the progressive think tank, Institute for Policy Studies. It has been funded by the Judith Loeb Chiara Foundation.


See also

*United States and South and Central America


References


External links

*{{official website, http://www.coha.org United States–South American relations Foreign policy and strategy think tanks in the United States Organizations established in 1975 1975 establishments in the United States Non-profit organizations based in Washington, D.C. Organizations based in Washington, D.C.