We envision a relationship between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean based on mutual respect, justice, and a shared commitment to the human rights of all the peoples of the Americas; that values peace, not war, and humanitarian assistance, not military might; that defends the rights of migrants and refugees; and that protects the health of our planet.
To ensure that U.S. policies advance human rights, peace, and social, environmental, and economic justice in Latin America and the Caribbean. To achieve this mission, we work with coalition partners and allied organizations to educate policymakers and the public and to mobilize a broad, diverse, and powerful grassroots base that can influence U.S. policymakers to achieve change.
Who We Are
The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) and its sister organization, the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF), mobilize concerned citizens, organizations, and networks to call for just U.S. policies towards Latin America and the Caribbean. We educate the public about the impact of U.S. foreign and immigration policy and advocate before the U.S. Congress and the executive branch. We work closely with civil society partners in Latin America to support their human rights campaigns and make sure their voices are heard in the policy debates that take place in Washington, D.C. but shape the lives of millions throughout the region.
How We Work
The Latin America Working Group (LAWG), a 501 (c) 4 nonprofit, conducts advocacy with the U.S. Congress and executive branch as well as grassroots mobilization and education. We amplify activists’ voices in the halls of power in Washington, D.C. and offer tools for activists to expand their ability to influence U.S. foreign and immigration policy. The Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF), a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, organizes public events, coordinates visits by Latin American civil society leaders, conducts fact-finding missions, and publishes research reports and memos on Latin American issues and related U.S. policy.
What We Have Achieved
Since our founding in 1983, the Latin America Working Group led the way to:
- Protecting the lives and rights of land and human rights defenders in Latin America.
- Shifting U.S. policy from war to peace in Central America and then again in Colombia.
- Opening diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and easing restrictions on U.S. citizens’ travel to and trade with the island.
- Pioneering the use of human rights conditions on U.S. security assistance and establishing greater transparency over military aid.
- Launching a dialogue with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to protect the rights of migrants and border communities, halting a family separation policy, and increasing recognition of the refugee crisis in Central America.
- Ensuring disaster relief and reconstruction assistance after hurricanes or earthquakes in Central America and Haiti.
Partners We Bring Together
LAWG’s unique role is as coordinator and catalyst. We bring a broad range of partner organizations together—including humanitarian, faith, immigrant-led, labor, environmental, human rights and other civil society groups—to implement the most effective strategies to influence the U.S. policy debate. See our list of organizations currently participating in LAWG coalition and some of our civil society partners in the region.
For more than 40 years, the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) has been a central force working to change U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America to promote human rights and social justice. In 1983, seeking to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Central America and to U.S. policies that backed armies that brutally slaughtered civilians, U.S. churches, grassroots and policy groups sought a coordinated way to respond. Working out of borrowed office space, with only one or two paid staff, the Central America Working Group, as it was then called, served to organize, educate, and inspire generations of activists advocating peace and justice in Central America. CAWG developed allies in Congress, the media and the public to end military assistance to the Salvadoran and Guatemalan governments and the Nicaraguan Contras. After the wars ended, CAWG coordinated efforts to encourage implementation of historic peace agreements and support the search for truth by helping to spur the declassification of thousands of U.S. documents for Central American truth commissions. In the early 1990s, the groups participating in CAWG coalition decided, rather than to disband, to expand their issues, becoming the Latin America Working Group. Read Becoming Better Neighbors: Tales from Organizing for a Just U.S. Policy toward Latin America here.