Washington Office on Latin America

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Washington Office on Latin America is a partner organization of the Institute for Policy Studies. [1]

History

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), despite their lovely self-description immediately below, was actually a hardcore, Marxist-oriented and supporting propaganda operation for communists/Marxists in Latin America, starting with Chile where self-proclaimed "socialist" Present Salvador Allende was slowly turning Chile into a Cuban base of operations for South America. See the Chilean Government's "White Book on Chile", 1973, about the extent of Cuban DGI and military subversion in and militarization of Allende's government, secret militias, and terrorist training camps.

Extensive documentation on WOLA's Marxist orientation and actions can be found in the 1985 book "The Revolution Lobby", Brownfeld and Waller, CIS/IASEI and the 1987 larger book, "The Real Secret War: Sandinista Political Warfare and its Effects on Congress", Bouchey, Waller and Baldwin, CIS/IASEI.

The official WOLA description, as taken from their own material, is as follows.


The inspiration for WOLA began with a brutal military coup.

On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile.

Shortly thereafter, WOLA was founded by people who had experience living and working in Latin America and were determined to tell the truth about what was happening – not just in Chile but also in repressive regimes that dominated much of the region throughout the era.

WOLA’s unique mission was to connect policy-makers in Washington with witnesses who had first-hand knowledge of the thousands of deaths, disappearances, cases of torture, and unjust imprisonment that was happening under the dictatorships.

Our role was not to “represent” Latin Americans but to give them access in the United States to those making the policies that had such a profound impact on their lives. This vital collaboration with partners in the region became the hallmark of WOLA’s work.

Over the decades, the challenges in Latin America have changed. Democracies have replaced dictatorships. New issues dominate the news – such as the U.S.-backed war on drugs, the rise of organized crime, increasing rates of violence, and concerns about migration and border security.

WOLA continues to be at the forefront throughout the hemisphere pioneering new approaches to advance human rights and end violence for more just societies in the Americas.

1970s: WOLA stands against dictatorships in South America

WOLA sheds light onto the human rights violations taking place in South America during the military dictatorships. WOLA brings a human rights focus to U.S. policy toward the region. WOLA helps draft the landmark Harkin Amendment, prohibiting U.S. military aid to governments that abuse human rights. WOLA facilitates the presentation to the Organization of American States (OAS) of thousands of new cases rising from the repressive regimes in the region.

1980s: WOLA plays key role in ending conflicts in Central America

WOLA is an active voice denouncing the death squads and devastation of the civil wars. WOLA issues the first major report documenting human rights abuses by the Nicaraguan Contras in the mid-1980s. WOLA provides essential support for peace accords in El Salvador.

1990s: WOLA supports transitions to democracy

WOLA offers advocacy training and helps local communities gain a wider voice in policy-making with government and multilateral agencies. WOLA plays a critical role helping civil society groups in Central America gain unprecedented input in reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Mitch. WOLA is among the first to warn about the dangers to democracy of the escalating U.S.-backed war on drugs and document the need for alternative approaches. WOLA is a key actor in ending the food and medicine ban to Cuba. WOLA, working with a coalition of organizations in Peru, helps to expose the human rights abuses and corruption of the Fujimori regime.

2000s: WOLA takes on new human rights agendas

WOLA helps to found the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), the first organization of its kind, bringing UN support to the creation of an independent agency with special powers to investigate and prosecute organized criminal groups and high profile cases. WOLA organizes a congressional delegation and helps develop a campaign to investigate and prevent violence against women along the U.S.-Mexican border. WOLA works to shift U.S. aid for Colombia, Mexico, and Central America away from military assistance and toward economic and social development programs.[2]

Influence

The Washington Office on Latin America, or WOLA, is a human rights-focused non profit organization founded in 1974. According to its website [3]

Since 1975, when WOLA worked behind the scenes to write the first major legislation conditioning U.S. military aid abroad on human rights practices, WOLA has played a key role in all major Washington policy debates over human rights in Latin America. Today, WOLA staff are called upon regularly to provide information and analysis to the executive branch, to multilateral organizations, to members of Congress, and to U.S. and Latin American media.
To say WOLA plays a key role in U.S. policy toward Latin America is, perhaps, an understatement. Regularly the only voice of a "human rights" perspective in Congressional and Senate hearings otherwise stacked with neoconservative and neoliberal experts like Otto Reich and Lanny Davis, WOLA has a much higher degree of access to the legislature than other groups. At a meeting I and three colleagues had last November with the aide to a Congressman who has championed human rights issues in Latin America, in which we lobbied against U.S. recognition of the Honduran elections, the aide brushed our concerns aside; she knew everything there was to know about Honduras, she told us—she and her boss had already spoken to WOLA (which supported the elections) and LAWG (the Latin American Working Group, closely aligned with WOLA).
WOLA’s influence is so great that it is spoken of in whispers (literally) by the myriad grassroots-focused DC-based non-profits it overshadows. While a few people have critically opposed some of WOLA’s positions from the left , the price for doing so is high. Since I moved to DC last June, at least two dozen DC grassroots and non-profit activists have confided in me that they’ve been wishing for years that someone would challenge WOLA, but that, as one of them told me, "you’d have to be suicidal to do it." There are two reasons behind their hesitance, both having to do with WOLA’s power as an inside actor on the policy scene: first, because the organization, which does advocacy relating to all areas of Latin America, has been influential on human rights issues in U.S. policy and although many see it as doing more harm than good, it still does do a fair amount of good; second, because it is so powerful and well-connected that challenging it could seriously jeopardize organizations working in solidarity with Latin American advocates for justice and human rights on a grassroots level.[4]

Board of Directors

Board Officers

As of Dec. 2014;

Washington, DC

  • Cynthia McClintock - Vice-Chair of the Board Professor of Political Science and International Affairs The George Washington University Washington, DC
  • Ethan Miller - Treasurer and Secretary of the Board Former Managing Director GE Antares Capital New York, NY

Board Members

  • Lazaro Cárdenas Batel - Former Governor of Michoacan, Mexico Mexico City, Mexico
  • Nancy Belden - Partner Belden Russonello Strategists LLC Washington, DC
  • Joel Campos-Alvis- Senior Associate, Financial Institution Supervision Group Federal Reserve Bank of New York New York, NY
  • Darryl Chappell - Director, Business Management Freddie Mac Washington, DC
  • Martin Coria - Regional Coordinator Church World Service Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Bill Garcia - Washington, DC
  • Louis Goodman Professor and Dean Emeritus School of International Service American University Washington, DC
  • Gordon Hanson - Director Center on Pacific Economies University of California-San Diego La Jolla, CA
  • Neil Jeffery - Chief Executive Officer Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor London, United Kingdom
  • Diego Luna - Founding Partner/Director/Actor Canana Films Santa Monica, CA
  • Janice O'Connell Executive Vice President Gephardt Government Affairs Washington, DC
  • Joy Olson - Executive Director Washington Office on Latin America Washington, DC
  • Paul Reichler - Partner Foley Hoag LLP Washington, DC. Reichler was a registered agent for the Marxist Sandinista government in the mid-1980's. He and his partner Appelbaum functioned as behind the scenes propagandists re the infamous Reed Brody Report. Details about Reichler and his actions are found in "The Real Secret War: Sandinista Political Warfare and its Effects on Congress", Bouchey, Waller and Baldwin, 1987, Council for Inter-American Security (CIS) and Inter-American Security Educational Institute.
  • Katti Wachs - HSE/ABE Instructor LaGuardia Community College Long Island City, NY
  • Alex Wilde - Research Scholar in Residence Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, American University Washington, DC
  • George Withers - Former U.S. Congressional Staff Washington, DC[5]

Staff

As of December 2014;

References