Over the years, the North American Congress on Latin America—better known as NACLA—has provided some of the best analysis of Latin American politics available. NACLA traces its roots back to the response by scholars and activists to the US invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 (exactly a century after the founding of The Nation). It grew out of a series of meetings that included representatives from Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, labor and the academic community. Its first printed material, mimeographed, came out in 1967, and since then its produced sharp analysis, including its 1970 “Who Rules Columbia?” (that is the university, not Colombia the country) to a “Research Methodology Guide,” also published in 1970 (and meant to help pre-Internet New Left investigative journalism (pro-tip: the directories of Lions and Rotary Clubs, available at local libraries, are good profiles of a town’s power elite). Its journal, Report on the Americas, has published the work of Ariel Dorfman, Tom Hayden, Naomi Klein, Maria Hinojosa, Kate Doyle, Mark Weisbrot, Eduardo Galeano, Christy Thornton, Noam Chomsky and Michael Klare, an early NACLA editor. Just before his death, Salvador Allende said: “If you want to know how the US has affected Chile, just read New Chile by NACLA.”
Its webpage still provides a wide variety of coverage on Latin America and its Report still carries the best writing on Latin American politics. Recently, Keane Bhatt has been trying to keep the liberals honest. But NACLA is in a bad way financially. Please consider subscribing or donating or, better yet, do both. And if you teach at a university, get your library to subscribe. Having outlasted almost as many US administrations as has Fidel Castro, NACLA is needed more than ever.
To give an idea of the kind of analysis you would get, below is a repost of an interview I did with Noam Chomsky a few years ago, to celebrate NACLA’s forty-fifth anniversary (check out the table of contents of the issue in which it appeared to get more of a sense of NACLA’s importance). The interview provides a framework for how to think of the escalation of political repression in Mexico today (which Laura Carlson discusses here and Christy Thornton here and here) and the ongoing Central American catastrophe as two elements of a single crisis.
Greg Grandin: Your book Turning the Tide: U.S Intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace (South End Press, 1985) helped a generation of scholars, activists and concerned citizens think about the regions different conflicts—in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala—as interlocking parts of a single crisis. You saw in that crisis a turning point in the foreign and domestic politics of the United States, a post-Vietnam retrenchment by liberals and conservatives that led to what you had already started calling a “new Cold War.” The book also presciently predicted, over a year before the Iran/Contra scandal broke in the press, that the Ronald Reagan administration would use “devious means to pursue its war against Nicaragua” in the face of public and congressional opposition. Can you talk about how Central America influenced your thinking at the time about US power in the world, particularly as it followed your involvement in the previous anti–Vietnam War movement?