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The Policy, Research & Investigation Committee (PRI) held its annual meeting on Saturday, May 28, 2011, 2:00-3:00 pm.  Its chair, Cecilia Sercán (Cornell University) was unable to attend.  She asked John B. Wright (Brigham Young University) to act as chair at the meeting.  Attending the meeting were PRI members Mark Grover, Ellen Jaramillo, Gayle Williams and John B. Wright. Wright reported that at the previous Constitution & Bylaws Committee meeting, he and Rafael Tárrago began work on reconciling the Constitution and Bylaws into a single document.  This process will undoubtedly have some ramifications to the organization that will be sent forward to PRI for consideration.  Gayle Williams reported hearing that there will be some comments made at the Executive Board meeting by a Member-at-Large regarding the length of the conference.  Some members believe the annual conference is too long.  The group discussed a deadline for receiving resolutions from the membership.  It was agreed that the deadline will be Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at 12:30 p.m.  The meeting was adjourned. The group met again on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 and drafted the following resolutions to be submitted to the general membership for a vote at the Closing Business meeting.

RESOLUTIONS OF SALALM LVI

At the 56th Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials, meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 28-June 1, 2008, be it resolved:

1.    That SALALM thank Temple University Libraries; and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries;     and Latin American and Latino Studies, University of Pennsylvania; and Department of Romance     Languages, University of Pennsylvania; and The Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies     Consortium (GPLASC) for sponsoring this year’s meeting.

2.    That SALALM gratefully acknowledge Dr. Paul C. Smith for his sponsorship of this year’s meeting.

3.    That SALALM extend its thanks to Joseph Holub and David Murray as Co-Chairs of the Local     Arrangements for their dedicated and capable organization of SALALM LVI.

4.    That SALALM thank the following individuals for their efforts in assisting with Local Arrangements activities: Carmen Febo-San Miguel (Taller Puertorriqueño), Jlia Zagar (Eyes Gallery), Pamela Harris (Swarthmore College Library), Aleta Arthurs, Charles Cobine, Jeanne Lanza Curcio, Ancil George, Nancy Gulsoy, William Keller, Carlos Rodriguez, Michael Rosse, Lori Rowland, Catherine Rutan, Bryan Wilkinson, Thomas Wilson, Kristin Winch (Univeristy of Pennsylvania Libraries), Ann Farnsworth-Alvear, Ana María Gómez López (Latin American and Latino Studies, University of Pennsylvania), Nam Narain (School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania), Matilde Duenas (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), Ronald Webb (Latin American Studies, Temple University).

5.    That SALALM thank the SALALM Libreros for sponsorship of its wonderful Liberero’s Reception at the Chapel of the Four Chaplains.

6.    That SALALM express its gratitude to the following individuals and groups for their support to this year’s conference:  Books from Mexico, Gale-Cengage, Puvill Libros, Retta Libros, Susan Bach Books from Brazil, Casalini Libri, Vientos Tropicales, Libros de Barlovento, Digitalia, Iberoamericana-Editorial Vervuert, Libros Sur and The Latin American Bookstore.

Gayle Williams reported for PRI at Executive Board Meeting #2, held Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 3:30-5:00 p.m.

SALALM LVI, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Executive Board Meeting I, May 29, 2011

Minutes as corrected

Present, Executive Board: Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez, Adán Benavides, David Block, Hortensia Calvo, Darlene Hull, Peter T. Johnson, Sean Knowlton, Nerea Llamas, Martha E. Mantilla, Lynn Shirey, Roberto C. Delgadillo (Rapporteur). Also present: S. Lief Adleson, Jesús Alonso-Regalado, Barbara Alvarez, Anne C. Barnhart, Paloma Celis-Carbajal, Teresa Chapa, Ana María Cobos, Paula Covington, Daisy Domínguez, Patricia Figueroa, Pedro Figueroa, Melissa Gasparotto, Pamela M. Graham, Adán Griego, Alison Hicks, Paul Losch, Nashieli Marcano, Orchid Mazurkiewicz, Mei Méndez, Stephanie Miles, David C. Murray, Rhonda Neugebauer, Tracy North, Alma Ortega, Richard Phillips, Marisol Ramos, Carlos Retta, Suzanne Schadl, Nathalie Soini, Rafael E. Tarragó, Gayle Williams, John Wright, Mary Jo Zeter

 

I. The meeting was called to order at 4:31 p.m. with Llamas presiding.

II. Minutes of SALALM LV had been distributed via e-mail. The minutes were unanimously approved with no corrections.

III. Reports

A. Officers

1. President (Llamas). Llamas welcomed conference participants and asked Executive Board Members to deliver their reports. She began and ended her report by warmly thanking Joseph Holub and David Murray of the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University libraries for their time and efforts in planning and sponsoring conference panels and events.

2. Vice-President/President-Elect (Shirey). Shirey kept her remarks brief. She simply noted that she would later speak about the program theme and location for next year’s conference.

3. Past President (Acosta-Rodríguez). Acosta-Rodríguez reported as having gathered, edited and submitted presentation papers from SALALM LV for subsequent publication by the Secretariat.

4. Executive Secretary (Calvo). Calvo began her report by announcing that as of May 25, 2011 SALALM has:

Personal Members

  • New Personal Members:                           12
  • Emeritus Members:                                     10
  • Student Members:                                          7
  • Honorary Members:                                      4
  • Total Personal Members:                       213*

*Includes: New members, Emeritus, Students, and Honorary

——————————————————-

Institutional Members

  • Sponsoring Members:                               16
  • Total Institutional Members:                90*

*Includes: Sponsoring members

——————————————————-

Total SALALM Members:                             303

She continued by succinctly summarizing increasingly downward trends in membership statistics since 2007. She noted that other committees and associated bodies are working to address the aforementioned downward membership trends. Calvo then reported on the Secretariat’s intention to review membership renewals, especially institutional memberships, to correct inconsistencies in billing procedures and payments. She next announced that the Secretariat is on track to come “under-budget” for 2010-2011, but the exact figures leading to this state have yet to be determined. She also noted a Secretariat donation of $75 to the Polio Survivors Association in the memory of Marian Goslinga. Calvo concluded her report by noting the Secretariat’s ongoing work with Johnson as they explore new financial goals.

5. Treasurer (Johnson). Johnson began his report by providing an overview of the accounts, time-tables and fiscal responsibilities jointly adhered to by the Treasurer and Secretariat. He particularly praised the work of Carol Avila in helping to maintain detailed and clear account transaction records. Johnson noted the selling of $28,793 in mutual fund shares to meet the operating costs of the organization. He acknowledged that dipping into principal always carries risk but it is the reality that SALALM faces. Johnson observed, however, that the profit–approximately $12,000–generated from the annual meeting in Providence was critically important for balancing the budget. He continued his report by noting ongoing conversations with the Membership Committee to address declining membership figures. Johnson then focused his report with a summary of the work undertaken by the Investment Working Group (IWG). The IWG, he explained, oversees, for the Finance Committee, the organization endowment’s portfolio of investments in various mutual funds that total (as of May 20, 2011) $745,452. In the coming year IWG will undertake proactive measures to diversify the portfolio and thereby reduce the potential for broad losses should the stock market take another sharp and sustained drop in share prices. Johnson next announced capital gains of $465.20 and dividend profits of $14,169.62. He characterized the capital gains as “grim” but happily noted the dividend profits–these gains and profits, in turn, have been reinvested in existing mutual funds. Johnson then shifted his report by making the following recommendations:

  • Approval of work contract to ensure continuation of the organization’s CPA;
  • Termination of solicited donations to the Marietta Daniels Shepard Endowed Presidential Scholarship at The University of Texas at Austin, due to the organization’s pledge fulfillment to that university;
  • Creation of a new scholarship, to help address the membership decline, targeted at MA level students that: are enrolled in accredited schools of library and information studies; demonstrate strong interest in Latin America and/or; work with Latino/a populations.

Lengthy discussion ensued with Johnson, Benavides, Adleson, Marcano, Celis-Carbajal, Hicks, Griego, North, Calvo, Barnhart, and Cobos focused on publicity strategies, schedules, and costs associated with marketing the proposed scholarship to incoming professionals within and outside the United States. Johnson finished his report by noting the receipt of an anonymous $1,000 donation to the SALALM endowment fund. This donation stems from a challenge, issued last year, to make matching contributions to the aforementioned endowment fund.

6. Rapporteur General (Delgadillo). No report.

B. Members-at-Large

1. Mantilla (2008-2011). No report.

2. Delgadillo (2008-2011).       ”

3. Benavides (2009-2012).       ”

4. Knowlton (2009-2012). Knowlton’s report consisted of an e-mail from Patricia Figueroa that requested that the Executive Board consider the following four recommendations:

  1. “That SALALM change its name to reflect the reality of the work we accomplish. By this I mean a name that is more general in nature and, by default, more inclusive.
  2. That the SALALM Congress be limited to three days instead of five.
  3. That we eliminate panels and themes from our congress so that we can devote more time to our committees, regional meetings and vendors.
  4. That we meet and celebrate SALALM in conjunction with LASA, mimicking the arrangement that MELA and MESA have for their yearly congress. This arrangement would provide an outlet for SALALM members who must present a paper in order to receive funding for attending the congress. I’m not necessarily suggesting that our congress take place in the same hotel as LASA but rather the same city and date.”

Lengthy discussion on the first recommendation ensued with Tarragó, Williams, Acosta-Rodríguez, Griego, Knowlton, Schadl, Barnhart, Zeter, Hull, Gasparotto, Johnson, Benavides, and Adleson sharing views ranging from:

  • The changed nature of the organization—in terms of whom it serves now and will serve in the future;
  • To the merits and financial-legal implications of a name change and associated branding opportunities.

Discussion then shifted to recommendations two and three with Figueroa, Calvo, Tarragó, Adleson, Acosta-Rodríguez, Griego, Barnhart, and Graham affirming the need for shortened and thematic modifications to future conferences but only after consultation with the appropriate committees and/or appointed task force groups. Llamas, at this point, focused discussion to the fourth and last recommendation. Figueroa, Griego, Chapa, Calvo, Johnson, Tarragó, and Benavides shared their views ranging from:

  • The costs of a joint conference based on prior experiences with LASA;
  • The necessity of a hosted institution and or Secretariat for future conferences in light of reduced membership statistics;
  • The role of vendors in hypothetical joint LASA conferences;
  • To the prohibitive travel expenses of conference locations outside the United States.

Llamas thanked Knowlton for his report and requested that additional discussion of the recommendations take place during the Town Hall Meeting.

5. Block (2010-2013). Block started his report by noting conversations with members that echoed Figueroa’s recommendations. He confirmed as having reached an agreement with those members to fold these conversations into related discussions when held by the Executive Board. He finished his report by urging the membership to apply pressure to their institutions to become institutional sponsoring members and thereby help offset declining membership numbers.

6. Hull (2010-2013). Hull’s report consisted of her briefly passing on membership and vendor concerns about the increasing costs of future conferences. She noted that she would have and share additional information related to these concerns after the Libreros meeting.

C. Executive Board Committees

1. Local Arrangements (Murray). Murray summarized preliminary conference statistics as of May 29, 2011:

  • Registered SALALM Conference Participants:                  129
  • Registered Exhibitors:                                                                     31
  • SALALM LVI Conference Income:                                $45,795
  • “                            “          Expenses:                                         $33,137
  • “                            “          Profits:                                              $12,658

He concluded his report by identifying and thanking Dr. Paul C. Smith and his generous donation of $10,000 to SALALM LVI.

2. Constitution and Bylaws (Tarragó). Tarragó briefly reported steady progress in the committee’s work toward updating and merging the existing Constitution and Bylaws into a single document titled SALALM Bylaws. Thus far, he stated, the committee was able to vet three of the fifteen articles in this draft document. Tarragó concluded his report by noting his intention to provide a more thorough update of the committee’s work during the second Executive Board meeting.

3. Policy, Research and Investigation (Cecilia Sercán; not present). Wright presented the committee’s report on Sercán’s behalf. He began the report by requesting that resolutions be given to PRI Committee members by 12:00 p.m. Tuesday. Wright finished by identifying the committee members as: Gayle Williams, Ellen Jaramillo, Mark Grover, and himself.

4. Membership Committee (Nashieli Marcano). Marcano reported as having overseen a successful and well-attended orientation session for new members. She noted the same for the subsequent Happy Hour. Marcano finished her report by noting the committee’s endorsement of a two year pre-paid membership payment to attract and retain new members.

At this point, Llamas paused the meeting–due to time constraints–and requested that the remainder of committees and associated groups defer their reports until the second meeting of the Executive Board. She allowed Johnson to make a concluding remark.

Johnson thanked Holub for securing four Southwest Airlines tickets that will be auctioned at the Enlace raffle to help underwrite parts of the conference’s costs.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:59 p.m.

SALALM LVI, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Executive Board Meeting II, June 1, 2011

Minutes as corrected

Present, Executive Board: Adán Benavides, David Block, Hortensia Calvo, Darlene Hull, Peter T. Johnson, Sean Knowlton, Nerea Llamas, Paul Losch, Martha E. Mantilla, Lynn Shirey, Mary Jo Zeter, Roberto C. Delgadillo (Rapporteur). Also present: Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez, S. Lief Adleson, Jesús Alonso-Regalado, Sarah Aponte, Alejandra Cordero Berenguer, Paloma Celis-Carbajal, Paula Covington, Daisy Domínguez, Patricia Figueroa, Pedro Figueroa, Pamela M. Graham, Joseph Holub, Jana Krentz, Stephanie Miles, David C. Murray, Linda Russo, Sócrates Silva, Rafael E. Tarragó, Gayle Williams

I. The meeting was called to order at 3:28 p.m. with Shirey presiding.

II. Conference Reports

A. Officers

1. President (Shirey). Shirey began her report by announcing her intention of creating ad hoc committees to address several important issues raised by Figueroa’s list of proposals discussed during the first Executive Board Meeting. She continued by briefly outlining her plan to execute a four day schedule for SALALM LVII with the help of Suzanne Schadl. Shirey concluded her report by strongly affirming that she will work to ensure that next year’s conference provides for additional time and space to work for the membership and vendors.

2. Vice-President/President-Elect (Mantilla). Mantilla started and finished her report by acknowledging preliminary discussions between the Executive Board and the University of Miami Libraries and Florida International University Libraries for their offer to host SALALM LVIII.

3. Past-President (Llamas). Llamas briefly informed the Executive Board of her ongoing work with Acosta-Rodríguez to standardize conference planning procedures for incoming Presidents.

4. Executive Secretary (Calvo). No report.

5. Treasurer (Johnson). Johnson started his report by summarizing his past e-mail communications with the Executive Board. He concluded his report by declaring his intention to issue quarterly or bi-annual financial reports and convey ideas, via the organization website, to increase revenue flow.

6. Rapporteur General (Delgadillo). Delgadillo began his report by warmly thanking this conference’s volunteer rapporteurs for their time and efforts. He finished his report by acknowledging Ellen Jaramillo and Bridget Gazzo’s esprit de corps for each tackling two rapporteur assignments.

B. Members-at-Large

1. Benavides (2009-2012). No report.

2. Knowlton (2009-2012).        “

3. Block (2010-2013).                 “

4. Hull (2010-2013).                   “

5. Losch (2011-2014).                 “

6. Zeter (2011-2014).                  “

C. Executive Board Committees

1. Local Arrangements (Murray and Holub). Murray and Holub started their report by announcing conference attendance statistics as of June 1, 2011:

  • Registered SALALM Conference Participants: 170
  • Registered Exhibitors: 36

They concluded their report by declaring their willingness to share their experiences with Llamas and Acosta-Rodríguez’s work in streamlining conference planning guidelines.

2. Constitution and Bylaws (Tarragó). Tarragó briefly noted the committee’s intention to share its review and revisions of the draft SALALM Bylaws with the general membership. Tarragó concluded his report with the emphatic hope that the committee’s work and membership awareness of bylaws will make for a stronger organization.

3. Policy, Research and Investigation (Cecilia Sercán; not present). No report.

4. Membership (Nashieli Marcano, not present).                            ”

5. Editorial Board (Orchid Mazurkiewicz; not present). Williams, speaking on behalf of Mazurkiewicz, announced that Ana María Cobos and Phil MacLeod collaborated on a book chapter entitled: “SALALM, the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials: The Evolution of an Area Studies Librarianship Organization” in Pathways to Progress: Issues and Advances in Latino Librarianship, to be published by Greenwood Publishers towards the end of 2011. She then reported:

  • Molly Molloy’s papers from the 2007 meeting have been published;
  • John Wright’s papers from the 2008 meeting will be published by the end of June 2011;
  • Pamela M. Graham’s papers from the 2009 meeting have been submitted and are in preparation for the copy editor;
  • Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez’s papers from the 2010 meeting have been submitted and are in preparation for the copy editor;
  • Williams’ latest edition of the Bibliography of Latin American and Caribbean Bibliographies has been sent to the printer and will be available after the meeting;
  • Williams’ Bibliography of Latin American & Caribbean Bibliographies 1990-1999 Cumulation will be published by Scarecrow Press in 2012;
  • No current titles are under production in the Bibliography and Reference Series.

Williams finished her report by conveying that Melissa Gasparotto has identified some guidelines for the Latin American Information Series (LAIS) that she is going to publicize on the website. Gasparotto will also put out a call for LAIS submissions later this year.

6. Finance (Richard Phillips, not present). Covington, speaking on behalf of Phillips, reported the committee as having had a productive meeting that resulted in:

  • Approval of projected SALALM LVII budget;
  • Two proposals, by Johnson, for consideration and approval by the Executive Board:

I. To increase credit card charges, from $3 to $5, to offset existing charges to the organization when the membership employs credit card payments

II. A three year prepaid membership option that would lock in current membership fees

  • Ongoing discussion of shifting organization operations to a calender year and associated fiscal implications;
  • Approval of the Secretariat’s proposed budget at $62,370–related issues to this budget included: CPA charges, use of PayPal, and updates to the organization website;
  • Approval to transfer $1,000 (plus $500 for start-up publicity) from organization dividends to initially launch the new scholarship. Member donations will sustain it in the future. This new scholarship will be fully coordinated and promoted directly by the organization to all library schools.

Covington concluded her report by noting the committee’s strong commitment to helping the organization increase its membership and revenues. Covington made a motion to accept Johnson’s first proposal. Benavides seconded the motion. Shirey called for a discussion of the motion. No discussion occurred. Shirey called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously. Covington made a motion to accept Johnson’s second proposal. Mantilla seconded the motion. Shirey called for a discussion of the motion. Brief discussion and remarks by Adleson, Benavides, Calvo, Covington, Knowlton, and Celis-Carbajal reflected the advantages and potential costs of the proposal. Shirey called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously.

7. Nominating (Alonso-Regalado). Alonso-Regalado began his report by noting the committee’s preliminary examination of free (SurveyMonkey, Ballotbin) and fee-based (Timberlake, DirectVote, Votenet) online election and survey services. He cited the potential ease of use and lost paper ballots as rationales for looking into online voting. Lengthy discussion ensued with Alonso-Regalado, Delgadillo, Knowlton, Krentz, Celis-Carbajal, Johnson, and Calvo sharing their experiences and privacy concerns with the use of SurveyMonkey and Timberlake. Alonso-Regalado made a motion to accept his proposal that next year’s election be conducted using SurveyMonkey as a pilot project. Mantilla seconded the motion. Shirey called for a discussion of the motion. No discussion occurred. Shirey called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously. Alonso-Regalado continued his report by conveying the committee’s proposal to add to the existing requirements for members running for the Vice-President/President-Elect position. He explained that the additional language would require that Vice-President/President-Elect candidates evince participation in at least one conference panel. Alonso-Regalado summarized the background of the existing requirement language and noted that the committee proposal arose from the need to open up the pool of candidates running for office in light of declining membership numbers. Lengthy discussion ensued with Benavides, Calvo, Shirey, Tarragó, Llamas, Adleson, Murray, Miles, Acosta-Rodríguez, Losch, Mantilla, Celis-Carbajal, Krentz, Russo, Graham, Hull, and Alonso-Regalado expressing support for and concerns ranging from:

  • The need to rewrite existing organization operational handbook criteria for members running for positions;
  • The difficulty in ascertaining past experience in organization bodies;
  • Affirming the need to retain institutional memory at the Secretariat;
  • Establishing the distinction between a committee participant and committee member;
  • The need for flexibility in determining experiences and participation when it is not evident;
  • To redoubling efforts to maintain constant clear communication between the Secretariat and organization bodies.

Alonso-Regalado finished his report by making a motion to accept his proposal that candidates running for the position of Vice-President/President-Elect shall have been SALALM members for three years, attended two SALALM conferences and have provided substantial services within the organization such as service on committees and working groups. Benavides seconded the motion. Shirey called for a discussion of the motion. No discussion occurred. Shirey called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously.

8. LALA-L (Williams). Williams began her report by noting that LALA-L has approximately 205 enrolled members. She continued by declaring that “things are running smoothly.” Williams finished by announcing that come August 2011, LALA-L will be twenty years old.

9. Enlace/Outreach (Celis-Carbajal). Celis-Carbajal began her report by happily announcing this year’s Enlace raffle garnered approximately $2,400. Celis-Carbajal briefly outlined the committee’s preliminary and long-term efforts towards creating grants for library school students in Latin America to attend the conference. She finished her report by citing that future Enlace applicants will be required to obtain a letter of support from their home institutions. Celis-Carbajal declared this requirement stems from the all too often forgotten realization that Enlace only covers approximately eighty percent of a chosen applicant’s conference expenses. This situation has led the committee to reconvene and reexamine other candidates in light of last-minute chosen applicant cancellations.

10. Communications (Domínguez). Domínguez started her report by briefly stating the committee’s recommendations:

  • The incorporation of future Newsletter content into the different areas that will comprise the redesigned organization website resulting in the termination  of the Newsletter;
  • The purchase of a $48 plug-in that will allow for online membership payments of conference registrations, renewals, and webinars;
  • A contingent payment of $640 for a web developer to assist with the organization website redesign over the summer.

Domínguez continued by citing the enthusiastic and tireless volunteer efforts of Stephanie Rocío Miles, Sócrates Silva, Kent Norsworthy, and Craig Schroer for seeing through to completion the committee’s assigned charge. She finished her report by noting the committee’s ongoing work towards the digital preservation of past Newsletter content. At this point, Domínguez was informed by Calvo that the Finance Committee had endorsed the Communications Committee’s recommendations and that no other action was required.

11. E-SALALM Committee and Webinar Pilot Project (Llamas). Llamas began her report by noting the Finance Committee’s endorsement of the committee’s recommendation of Buddy Press as the organization’s website platform. She continued by announcing that the E-SALALM Committee’s charge was met and will cease to exist. She finished her report by announcing that work of the Webinar Pilot Project will continue under the leadership of Orchid Mazurkiewicz.

D. Substantive Committees

1. Acquisitions (Virginia García).                                              No report.

2. Access and Bibliography (Teresa Chapa).                                 “

3. Library Operations and Services (Rhonda Neugebauer).   “

4. Interlibrary Cooperation (Sarah Buck Kachaluba)               “

5. Libreros (Carlos Retta, not present). Cordero Berenguer, speaking on behalf of Retta, conveyed the Libreros discussion of the role and future of their sponsored reception. She noted, in particular, that the majority of Libreros have agreed to eliminate the standing option of allowing an individual Librero the choice of paying the Libreros Reception sponsorship fee of $300. She continued by reporting that all Libreros would be expected to pay the aforementioned sponsorship fee as part of the established exhibitors payment. Lengthy discussion ensued with Johnson, Holub, Mantilla, Russo, Llamas, Hull, Knowlton, Adleson, Benavides, Shirey, and Murray expressing suggestions and comments ranging from:

  • The difficulty of determining, in advance, the costs of the reception in light of variable expenses and income fluctuations that occur once a conference is underway;
  • The necessity of modifying language in existing documents used to arrange enforcement and payment of exhibitor fees for tax purposes;
  • The burden, if any, of higher fees for first-time exhibitors with the organization;
  • The elimination of the reception altogether given prior discussion of paucity of one-on-one time between membership and exhibitors;
  • To the creation of a one-time waiver or reduced rate for first-time exhibitors.

At this point, time constraints forced Shirey to pause the discussion and request that the Executive Board and Libreros continue this on-going conversation via e-mail.

III. Old Business

Future Meetings

A. 2012, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (Shirey). Shirey began her report by announcing an offer from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine to host next year’s conference in Trinidad and Tobago. She acknowledged the proposed conference’s four-day timetable as keeping in line with a recommendation for a shortened conference. She continued her report by confirming that the Finance Committee reviewed, revised and endorsed the proposed SALALM LVII conference budget. Finally, she stated that a LALA-L “straw poll” would be undertaken to determine which of two possible conference time frames (May 12-15 vs. June 16-19) fits the needs of the organization membership in order to avoid conference schedule conflicts. Shirey made a motion to accept the University of the West Indies, St Augustine’s invitation to host SALALM LVII. Llamas seconded the motion. Shirey called for a discussion of the motion. No discussion occurred. Shirey called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously.

B. 2013, Miami, Florida (Shirey). Shirey noted that a tentative proposal from the University of Miami Libraries and Florida International University Libraries to co-host SALALM LVIII in 2013 is expected in the near future. Williams confirmed what Shirey noted and will work with Mei Méndez before presenting a complete proposal to the Executive Board for consideration and subsequent approval.

IV. New Business

Proposal

A. Gale Cengage World Scholar Portal―Latin America and the Caribbean Proposal (Llamas). Llamas briefly outlined a proposal from Gale Cengage to partner, administer, and award an undergraduate research prize with the organization. Lengthy discussion ensued with Johnson, Murray, Llamas, Hull, Adleson, Benavides, and Williams noting concerns and views ranging from:

  • The time-labor intensive logistical “nightmare” of researching, promoting and providing ongoing feedback to the portal, in addition to institutions and associated students, faculty and staff;
  • The proposal, if accepted, would require SALALM to act outside its guidelines as a non-profit organization;
  • The positive aspects that stem from the inclusion of the organization in an effort that encourages undergraduate research in Latin American Studies;
  • To the creation of an ad hoc committee to examine the implications of the proposal.

Shirey issued a call for volunteers to comprise the aforementioned ad hoc committee. Murray, Johnson, Adleson, and Mantilla agreed to serve on the committee. Williams suggested that others that have worked with the portal be approached to serve on the committee as additional members.

Shirey moved the meeting be adjourned.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:39 p.m.

 

 

Panel 12, Tuesday May 31, 2011, 2:00 pm-3:30 pm

Moderator: Silvia Mejia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Presenters: Marisol Ramos, University of Connecticut; T-Kay Sangwand, The University of Texas at Austin; and Joel Blanco-Rivera, University of Pittsburgh
Rapporteur: Suzanne Schadl, University of New Mexico

The first presentation, Sharing Archives: The P.R. Civil Court Cases Collection Digital Project, by Marisol Ramos of the University of Connecticut (UConn) offered digitization of the Puerto Rican Civil Court Cases Collection as a solution for colonialist ownership of cultural heritage collections in tenuous political environments. Ramos noted that this collection, purchased by UConn in 2002 (before her appointment), actually belonged in the National Archive in Puerto Rico. Upon its establishment in 1955, it became the repository for all government records from the Spanish period to the present. Even so, and through legal means, these documents were in the custody of UConn when she began working there. Because of strict Connecticut state laws prohibiting the deaccession of materials bought by the state, this 19th century collection could not be returned to Puerto Rico. To make matters worse, the fragility of the documents within this collection prohibited making photocopies to share access with the country of provenance.

In 2007, Ramos became concerned with how best to address the moral and ethical obligation to provide Puerto Ricans access to this collection. She saw it as part of the Puerto Rican national and cultural heritage. As a Puerto Rican who had worked in and collaborated with staff at the National Archive in Puerto Rico, Ramos felt even more obligated to identify a solution to the problem of U.S. universities ending up with collections far from their countries of origin. After offering a snapshot of several cases in which donations, purchases, deaths, and/or other events led to document drains, Ramos addressed the difficult historical relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. In so doing, she situated their relationship within studies of colonialism. Ramos noted that as a political appointee embroiled in this difficult connection, it would be ill-advised for the director of the National Archive in Puerto Rico to formally demand that documents be returned to Puerto Rico. The rotating nature of such political positions would make this endeavor even more complicated.

Ramos proposed intervention from archivists and librarians in the United States holding cultural heritage collections. She then outlined the UConn project, and announced that the Latin American Microforms Project (LAMP) had agreed to help fund the initiative. Ramos noted that once digitized, by May 2012 all of the documents in the Puerto Rican Civil Court Cases Collection would be shared through the Internet Archive. Ramos noted that while this solution did not return documents to their country of origin, it did offer access. It also successfully bypassed University funding politics and spoke to the difficulties of cross national/institutional ownership of cultural heritage collections in a tenuous funding situation and in a complicated political environment.

In the second presentation, Tejiendo la Memoria: Strengthening Collective Memory of El Salvador’s Civil War through Transnational Digitization Partnerships, T-Kay Sangwand (The University of Texas at Austin) proposed a Distributed Archival Model as an alternative to problematic traditional methods of archival possession. She argued that the partnership based model of transnational digitization could empower record and access creators by enabling them to retain, expand, and share access while also learning useful techniques in digital preservation.

Sangwand began by presenting the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) at UT (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/hrdi). This program serves as the umbrella under which her primary focus, the Tejiendo la Memoria project, evolved. Sangwand noted that HRDI emerged out of the collective effort in which activists, scholars, and organizations together with the University of Texas Libraries (UTL) began to identify threatened electronic and analog resources for preservation. They sought to save the most fragile records of international human rights struggles and promote their security through archival availability, human rights research and continued advocacy. A generous grant from the Bridgeway Foundation in 2008 led to the establishment of the HRDI, which Sangwand noted currently engages in transnational collaborative projects to preserve and make accessible the historical record of genocide and human rights violations throughout the world.

Sangwand presented UT Austin’s work with the Radio Venceremos Archive at the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (Museum of Word and Image) in El Salvador as an example of implementing a Distributive Archival Model. Radio Venceremos traveled with the FMLN during the El Salvadoran Civil War and denounced human rights abuses. Sangwand noted that this medium also became an important means for popular education. After the war ended, Radio Venceremos had 1,270 fragile tapes containing personal testimonies. Needless to say, the Museum Word and Image was reluctant to give UT Austin temporary custody of these important records, and understandably so, especially considering the political history between the United States and El Salvador. UT Austin chose, thus, to use collection development funds in order to send equipment and trainers to the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen with the express purpose of acquiring this digital collection.

UT Austin employees provided training in digital preservation techniques and metadata standards and Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen archivists began to digitize and describe the collection. Custody never changed hands and each party had the opportunity to contribute their expertise to the project. UT Austin and the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen agreed to share the digital copies archived in a server at UT Austin. The original Radio Venceremos tapes remained in El Salvador. The funding formula used in this experimental acquisition involved calculating the staff costs of two employees processing this collection over two years’ time. UT Austin agreed to pay 2/3 of the cost while the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen covered 1/3. Sangwand concluded by sharing a clip of a sole survivor’s testimonial in these audio files.

In the third presentation, Declassification and Accountability for Part Abuses: Transitional Justice in Latin America and the Impact of Declassified U.S. Government Documents, Joel Blanco-Rivera (University of Pittsburgh) argued that transitional justice in Latin America requires and is dependent upon access to government documents from the United States. He suggested and offered several examples in which these documents have played important roles in memory-related initiatives throughout Latin America.

Blanco-Rivera began his presentation by placing Latin American requirements for access to U.S. government documents in an international context. He offered a review of cases and literature including reference to the following international efforts to save threatened records: German state security service records in the early 1990s; Paraguayan information on detentions during the Stroessner regime; records from the Guatemalan national police stored in a police building in Mexico City; and very recently, records from the Egyptian state security police. In this last case, Blanco-Rivera stated that protestors successfully used social media to document their demands for saving records as well as for documenting them. He noted that in all of these cases, saving these documents from destruction led to public outcries and increased availability, as in the case of the Archive of Terror. Knowledge of these documents also prompted heightened demands for declassified U.S. government documents, as in the case of Operation Condor.

Building on literature regarding the importance of archivist activism in Human Rights, Blanco-Rivera noted that it was imperative for archivists and human rights activists to take responsibility for preserving several different kinds of archives including transitional archives of former regimes; archives of human rights organizations; archives documenting life during the period; and archives of declassified governments. He reiterated that archival sources enable societies to address legacies of human rights abuses, to institute truth programs, and to implement government reforms and other transitions. Blanco-Rivera highlighted the importance of truth commissions as the main mechanisms for addressing abuses in Latin America. He also argued that such efforts succeeded only after also obtaining declassified U.S. documents. Blanco-Rivera demonstrated that combining Truth Commission reports with the declassification of U.S. documents increased interest in the contradictions between U.S. declassified documents and local documents. He added that this triangulation often opened the door for even greater demands for the release of additional records.

Questions & Comments:

Pamela Graham (Columbia University) asked Sangwand how prevalent the UT Austin model is. She wanted to know if there were other institutions doing similar things and she asked Sangwand if the cost sharing formula UT Austin has used addressed ongoing preservation and maintenance costs. Sangwand stated that she was not aware of any other academic organizations doing something similar but that non-governmental organization were involved in like practices. As for the storage and maintenance costs, she noted that the UT Austin director was supportive of the project as an acquisition and not worried about storage right now. The point was to build an infrastructure for this process to continue in the future. There was an inaudible interjection from the audience on other collections or documents in Mexico.

Ana María Garra asked Blanco-Rivera about his familiarity with a case brought in the U.S. in 1973, which was developed from U.S. documents. He noted that he was familiar with that case and added a few additional examples.

Adrian Johnson (UT Austin) asked Blanco-Rivera if civil judgments help people pursue criminal cases, sort of as a means to ameliorate the reality that a civil conviction rarely results in payment.  He wondered if it would be possible to use such a case to revoke citizenship. Blanco-Rivera responded that receiving money was never the end goal. Recognition was most important.

Suzanne Schadl (UNM) asked Ramos and Sangwand if they had to maneuver restrictive bureaucratic funding (such as not recognizing museums as vendors or refusing large reimbursements) to purchase documents in order to get them back to where they belong or to use collections development funds for digital acquisition. Both noted that they had very little difficulty, just increased paper work and communications.

Johnson (UT Austin) asked Ramos if she had any contact with the Puerto Rican Archives since they put this collection into the Internet Archive. He wondered if they were using it. Ramos noted that they were still in the beginning processes of the project and that it would not be live until May 2012.

Adán Benavides (UT Austin) asked Sangwand how feasible it would be to continue these kinds of agreements and how selective they could be in this process. He wanted to know about the long-term sustainability of these projects after the case. Sangwand noted that the library was dedicated to preservation and maintenance costs for these collections, not unlike they would be for other acquisitions. Graham (Columbia University) added that Mellon grants were offering funding for figuring out how to do archiving metadata.

 

Panel 10, Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11:00 am-12:30 pm

Moderator: Melissa Gasparotto, Rutgers University
Presenters: Kumaree Ramtahal, University of the West Indies; Elmelinda Lara, University of the West Indies; Sarah Aponte, City College of New York
Rapporteur: Ellen Jaramillo, Yale University

The first presentation was “Opening Doors to Our Cultural Heritage: the Indian Caribbean Museum of Trinidad and Tobago” by Kumaree Ramtahal, University of the West Indies. Ramtahal began with a brief overview of Trinidad and Tobago’s history and geography. The nearby islands were administered as one colony and achieved independence as one state in 1962. The country enjoys a very unique ethnic mix, where the most dominant ethnic groups in the population are of African and East Indian descent. When slavery was abolished among the British colonies in 1838, plantation economies sought other sources of cheap labor. When attempts to draw Europeans proved unsuccessful, indentured workers from the Indian subcontinent were contracted and on May 30, 1845 the first East Indian immigrants arrived. Between 1845 and 1917, approximately 144,000 East Indians came to Trinidad and Tobago as part of a widespread migration of laborers within the British Empire. Only 29,448 returned to India. By 1871 East Indians formed a quarter of Trinidad’s population, and by 1990 their descendants form the single largest ethnic group in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Indian Caribbean Museum in Carapichaima, Trinidad is dedicated to the preservation and memory of the rich cultural heritage of over one million East Indians who settled in various parts of the Caribbean. It is a unique and specialized non-governmental organization, opened on May 7, 2006. Its collection was assembled through field trips by its administrators, and grows through gifts and donations of artifacts and documents. Its vision is to serve the public, providing an informative and enjoyable visiting experience, organize events such as lectures and workshops, to develop collaboration with other organizations and to forge links with other stakeholders in culture, education and tourism. Its purpose is to collect, restore, preserve, arrange and display artifacts and cultural documents relating to the East Indian diaspora in the Caribbean. There are household, agricultural and musical artifacts, print resources, historical documents, coin and art collections. There is a reference library, and a replica of an East Indian clay house on the museum grounds.

The village in which the Museum is located is a tourist attraction site, with four other cultural sites endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism, Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago celebrates Indian Heritage Month every May and also an official holiday known as Indian Arrival Day, so the number of visitors noticeably increases during that time. In 2008, National Geographic included the Museum in its book Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations, which showcases spiritual places and guides travelers who wish to visit them. Rich in social history and cultural heritage, the collection reflects human rights issues, Indian cuisine, religion, education and music. There is anticipated collaboration with a proposed Museum in Kolkata, India (Calcutta) dedicated to its early emigrants in the Diaspora. Plans have been made for creating a botanical garden with some of the rare endangered plants of Indian origin in the museum’s outdoor space, and to erect a permanent screen on a Museum wall for showing historical films and documentaries. Challenges to the Museum include a lack of professional expertise in digitization and preservation, the need to develop finding tools for items in the collection, and because it is a non-profit organization, finances, space, security staffing and collection development.

The second presentation was “Illegal Immigration into Trinidad and Tobago: Human Rights and Justice” by Elmelinda Lara, University of the West Indies. Lara began by showing a map of Trinidad and Tobago and its proximity to North and South America, in order to visualize immigration to Trinidad and Tobago. Her presentation concentrated on immigration patterns during the past five years based on a scan of local newspapers, and highlighted broader social implications and human rights issues.

Immigration to Trinidad and Tobago preceded Columbus, as it was practiced by the native peoples in moving about the Caribbean Islands and establishing trade routes. Today there are patterns of intra-regional migration, migration based on seasonal labor needs, and Trinidad and Tobago have always been a link to Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. It serves as a resting place and a launch pad for migrants; a supplier and receiver of migrants, both legal and illegal; and the country’s multi-ethnic character reflects that. They have had successive waves of settlers reflecting European settlement and expansion, the enforced migration of Africans and voluntary migration of Asians, subsequent migration of Chinese, Syrians, Lebanese and other Caribbean islanders, and finally, migrants from the rest of the world. Some of the reasons for immigration to Trinidad and Tobago have been its relative economic prosperity compared to the uneven economic development in the region, a well-established network of Caribbean immigrants for support, its political stability, and its geographic location between North and South America.

Statistics do not provide an accurate count of illegal immigrants; the numbers in actuality are much higher than that. A large number of Nigerians and other Africans have been entering recently. Africans mainly come through unauthorized ports of entry or if they come legally, overstay their legal stays. They engage in paid employment and are mainly employed by private security agencies. If caught, they are arrested and face detention, but because of the distance, it is difficult to repatriate them quickly, resulting in long periods of incarceration and complaints of poor treatment. Illegal immigrants from other Caribbean countries are by and large employed in both skilled and unskilled jobs in any trade. If caught, they are deported quickly, and because of the proximity, they often return. Among Central and South American illegal immigrants, a significant number of women work in the sex trade, and this human trafficking is a cause of concern to the government. Chinese illegal immigrants also come through unauthorized ports of entry or if they come legally, overstay their stay. There have been reports of collusion with authorities or persons unknown to receive work permits for a fee, and also in human trafficking and criminal activity. Chinese illegal immigrants face deportation but in some instances they are regularized because they don’t depend on the government for employment and they create businesses which are seen as a boon to the economy.

In terms of human rights dimensions, the basic human rights of illegal immigrants are not protected. There are reports of sweat shops, inhumane conditions and habitation, Chinese workers sleeping in restaurants, etc. In the case of Africans, lengthy incarceration prior to repatriation leads to complaints of poor treatment, and they were at one time kept in prisons with common criminals. The government has since established detention centers. In cases of human trafficking, the victims/illegal immigrants aren’t paid for their labor, their passports are confiscated by the traffickers, and they are reluctant to go to the authorities because they are here illegally. The response of the government has been to enact an anti-trafficking in persons law, and to establish a financial intentions unit that tracks and investigates sources of funds used in illegal activities that involve immigrants.

The third presentation was “Preserving and Documenting the Presence of Dominicans in New York during the Early 20th Century” by Sarah Aponte, City College of New York. Dominicans are one of the largest and fastest-growing Latino population groups in the United States. The greatest concentrations are in the New York/New Jersey region. The New York City borough of the Bronx has the largest Dominican population, while Washington Heights/Inwood is the most populous neighborhood.

Dominicans have been coming to the U.S. since 1613 when Juan Rodríguez, a Black or Mulatto from Santo Domingo, was brought to the New York area by a Dutch merchant ship exploring the northeast coast of North America. After landing in New York harbor, Rodríguez was left for a few months while the Dutch crew returned to the Netherlands. He was still there when another Dutch ship arrived in the area which was populated by Native Americans. This makes him the first recorded non-native person residing in the Hudson Bay area, first non-native merchant, first immigrant, first Afro-descendant, first Latino and, of course, the first Dominican to reside in what is today New York. His story was not well-known until the 1990s and today, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute is conducting further research on Juan Rodríguez. The Institute is also compiling information on Dominican immigration to New York from 1892 to 1924, gleaned through the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation website. This material is helping to reconstruct and contextualize the early Dominican presence in the U.S. So far, ships’ passenger lists obtained from the website have helped to compile a list of 5,191 Dominicans who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island. The main characteristics of these immigrants were: they were mainly of color, between 25-34 years of age upon arrival, could afford 1st or 2nd class tickets, carried more than $50, were able to provide an address where they would stay in New York City, and they were overwhelmingly single (until they married and established families). The highest numbers arrived between 1919 and 1921. According to data analyzed from these lists, many of these immigrants became U.S. citizens and established homes and businesses in the New York area.

At the turn of the 20th century there was a vibrant Hispanic cultural and literary circle in New York City. There were 341 Hispanic periodicals published in New York State before the 1960s, mainly written in Spanish. In 1916, at least 29 journals were on the topic of Latin America, highlighting the growing interest in Latin American affairs at that time. For example, Las Novedades, or Las Novedades: España y los Pueblos Hispanoamericanos, a weekly Spanish language publication in New York City, was also distributed to Spain and throughout Latin America. Founded in 1876, it was Dominican-owned between 1914 and 1918. Its articles covered political, literary, business and cultural issues relating to Latin America and of particular interest to the Dominican community in the U.S. and New York. That many articles were written by Dominicans is of interest today because this was occurring at a time that is not generally recognized as being a period of Dominican presence in the U.S. At a time when the numbers of Dominicans in New York City was presumed to be relatively small, Las Novedades was widely distributed and published much about an active Dominican community in the city. In 1915, the publication announced that the intellectual, essayist, philosopher, philologist and literary critic Pedro Henríquez Ureña, one of the most prominent Dominican writers of all time, had joined its editorial staff. Scholars use the articles he published to trace his political thought regarding the U.S. The headquarters of the journal was also home to a library, bookstore, and printing office offering services to travelers and residents. They even had a department that served as a clearinghouse for questions from Dominicans in the U.S. and New York, and Las Novedades serves as a source that documents the growth of this community since it published the names of persons arriving or departing the city. Aponte says this is a work in progress and she intends to continue recovering works published in Las Novedades written by or about Dominicans and to make them available collectively.

Questions & Comments:

Melissa Gasparotto (Rutgers University) to Lara: The statistics you presented on illegal immigration, are there groups that contest those numbers? Have you seen competing analyses of the numbers of illegal immigrants into Trinidad and Tobago?

Lara: Not just yet because the statistics are recent, covering 2005 to 2009. The ones for 2009-2011 are still in progress (of being compiled).

Mary Jo Zeter (Michigan State University) to Lara: About Chinese immigration, we know the Chinese are investing a lot on infrastructure projects in Africa and Latin America. Are Chinese laborers coming to work on the infrastructure, and overstaying?

Lara: We’ve had successive waves of Chinese immigration since emancipation in the 1920s and 1970s, and we’re seeing another wave of immigration, because we have a Chinese community, albeit a small one. The pattern we’re seeing now is also associated with legal Chinese immigration whereby the Chinese government has worked with ours in contracting short-term Chinese laborers for infrastructure development. What’s happened is that illegal immigrants and also the Chinese criminal element have used that opportunity to illegally enter.

Gasparotto to Ramtahal: You mentioned a few organizations appearing in the educational archives that’s included in the collection, and one was a Canadian organization?

Ramtahal: The Canadian Mission, a Presbyterian-based organization sought to educate the East Indian community, teaching them to read and write in English. They studied Hindi, and published books and hymns in order to convert the East Indians to Presbyterianism. They opened several primary and secondary schools and were instrumental in educating the community.

Gasparotto: Are the Canadian Mission’s documents available outside of Trinidad and Tobago?

Ramtahal: They should be available in their own archives and some are also in the library where I work (University of the West Indies), but the Museum has a lot of their documentation.

Zeter to Ramtahal: Are you in the process of cataloging the Museum’s documents collection?

Ramtahal: I don’t work for the Indian Caribbean Museum. As a new organization they lack a lot of professional expertise in preservation, information technology, etc. that needs development.

Nerea Llamas (University of Michigan) to Ramtahal: You talked about the Museum collaborating with a museum in Kolkata; are there strong ties between these countries?

Ramtahal: They communicate through their High Commissions and network to bring artists on tours through the Caribbean to showcase the culture.

Gasparotto to Aponte: I wasn’t aware until now of the Dominican publications in New York for this time period; besides Novedades, are there more?

Aponte: Yes, we’re still tracing them all, but as far as we know, that was the only Dominican-owned one at that time. We found out that El Diario La Prensa was at one point owned by a Dominican.

div>Virginia García C., Chair
Domingo, 29 de mayo 2011  2:30-4:30 p.m. 

Asistentes: Ricarda Musser, Peter Altekrueger, Martha Mantilla, Donna Canevari, Eudoxio Paredes, Katherine McCann

Se conversó sobre la importancia de este comité en las reuniones del SALALM. Se hizo énfasis en conocer las políticas sobre desarrollo de colecciones de cada biblioteca, así como la cantidad de programas sobre América Latina que tiene cada universidad. La recomendación fue que deben de programarse mas paneles sobre el tema de las adquisiciones.

Serials Subcommittee Report

Present: Alison Hicks, Chair; Ruby Gutierrez; Tomas Bocanegra; Victor Cid; Judy Alspach; Mary Jo Zeter; Peter Altekruger; Barbara (University of Arizona student), Sarah (UNC)Review of new online serials form:

  • Need to make clear that this is a 2 year window [Alison: done]
  • Decision to clean out titles from Excel after 1 year
  • Decision to maintain titles on the webpage for 1 year (unless not found in Worldcat)
  • Add vendor/provider/where purchase is possible [Alison: done]
  • Include newspapers [Alison: done]

Reports

  • Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (IAI) is cataloging 50-100 news subscriptions a year. Peter will investigate how to get this data out of the catalog.
  • Online Content Project is scanning ToC for 750 new serials (author/title) which will be uploaded into the IAI catalog
  • Colmex has a full text serial database of journals that are produced at Colmex.  All 7 titles are freely available: http://biblioteca.colmex.mx/revistas/ UNAM has a similar project available: http://www.ejournal.unam.mx/
  • HAPI: Last printed print index 2007/8. Working with CALAFIA to ensure archival access.

Future Projects

  • Create a list of e-serial/journal providers. Free/Sub based. Title, Web Address, Subjects. [Alison to set up]
  • Consider a panel next year of Clacso, Redalyc, Scielo. Also consider the new webinar format.

Marginalized People and Ideas

Encargada: Irene Munster | Próximo Chair: Richard Phillips, University of Florida

Asistentes: Virginia Garcia (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos); T-Kay Sangwand(UT Austin); Barbara Belejack (Univ. of Arizona); Mary Jo Zeter ( Michigan State Univ.); Rhonda Neugebauer ( UC-Riverside); Peter Johnson; Fernando Acosta Rodriguez (Princeton Univ.); Fred Morgner ( Vientos Tropicales); Nathalie Soini (Queen’s Univ.); Sarah Buck Kachaluba (Florida State Univ.); Irene Münster (Univ. of Maryland)

Richard Phillips hizo una introducción sobre la población de Haití, tanto en el país como en la diáspora. Comentó sobre los haitianos en el estado de Florida. Realizó una búsqueda en SALALM Papers desde 1989 (en que los SALALM Papers se encuentran indizados por HAPI) y tan solo encontró un artículo que se refiere a Haití. Sugiere investigar la tendencia de publicación de ciertos países o temas  por los miembros de SALALM.

Fernando Acosta Rodríguez presentó un nuevo proyecto que se está realizando en Princeton University: Latin American Posters Collection. Se están digitalizando unos 2,203 afiches, producidos desde el año 2000 – en adelante, están siendo organizados/clasificados  por país y área temática. No es un proyecto retrospectivo; aquellos materiales de años anteriores pueden ser ubicados en la colección de microfilms.

Sonia Silva, al igual que el año anterior, nos puso al día sobre la violencia doméstica que padece Brasil. Según las estadísticas, 12 mujeres son asesinadas por día con un total de 4,370 víctimas por año. No están incluidas en esta cifra, aquellas que fallecen en el hospital luego de unos días de internación. Actualmente se está comenzando a estudiar la violación de niños y adolescentes.

 

Gifts & Exchanges

Encargada: Martha Mantilla

Asistentes: Martha Mantilla, Ricarda Musser

Two members of the G&E subcommittee attended the meeting.  They were Martha Mantilla, the current Chair and Ricarda Musser the new Chair of  this committee. They talked about the purpose and relevance of the committee given the lack of interest and the decrease in membership.   Currently, there are only two members listed in the 2010/2011 official SALALM list, which is based on membership renewals.  For the last four years, only three or four people have consistently  attended the meetings. This subcommittee has lost its purpose given the fact that the G&E programs have been eliminated from almost all the libraries represented in SALALM. Ricarda and Martha both agreed that this subcommittee should be eliminated. They recommend to follow the proper procedures for this subcommittee eliminated.

 

Library/Bookdealer/Publisher Subcommittee

Encargada:  Linda Russo

No response received.

 

 

Panel 14, May 31, 2011, 2:00 pm-3:30 pm

Moderator: Richard Phillips, University of Florida
Presenter: Carlos Gutiérrez, Cinema Tropical
Rapporteur: David S. Nolen, Mississippi State University

This panel featured a screening of the film Nostalgia por la Luz, directed by Patricio Guzmán. Carlos Gutiérrez from Cinema Tropical presented an introduction to the film itself and answered questions before and after the screening. Gutiérrez began by explaining that Cinema Tropical was founded in 2001 and is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Latin American cinema. As part of this mission, Cinema Tropical is involved in distribution and promotion of films, including activities like publicity campaigns, film festivals, and film series (like the one held at the University of Arizona each year). He introduced this film by mentioning Guzmán’s earlier film, The Battle of Chile. Gutiérrez considers Nostalgia por la Luz to be a film essay on theoretical ideas of memory. It was financed by Guzmán himself. Chris Moore (Sol Productions) asked how to order the film. Gutiérrez answered that it could be ordered through the Icarus Films website. Paloma Celis Carbajal (University of Wisconsin, Madison) asked if Cinema Tropical also covered European cinema as well. Gutiérrez responded that Cinema Tropical only works with films from Latin America, which includes films from Brazil but not from the English-speaking Caribbean.

The film focused on the themes of the preservation and study of the past as represented by images and people associated with the Atacama Desert. Guzmán began by discussing the widespread popular interest in astronomy throughout Chile, and how the region of the Atacama has attracted astronomers from around the world because its environmental and atmospheric conditions provide a uniquely suited place to study the night sky.

In a conversation between the director and an astronomer, Guzmán introduced the idea that astronomers are primarily concerned with the past because they are observing light that has traveled over time from distant places in the universe. He also used this conversation to express the belief that the present is actually the sensory perception of the recent past because there is always a time-lapse effect when observing light.

The film highlighted the connections between archaeologists and astronomers. Both groups attempt to reconstruct the distant past from the evidence they find in the present. The Atacama Desert functions as a gateway to the past for both groups: astronomers take advantage of the unique geography to study the origins of the universe and of mankind, while archaeologists are able to study the remains of past civilizations because of the preservation of artifacts caused by the extremely dry desert conditions.

Guzmán used this theme to note the difficulty of the past for Chile. While astronomers and archaeologists work to uncover the distant past, Guzmán asserted that the recent past in Chile is mostly hidden and least considered.

From that point on, the film shifted to the stories of Chileans impacted by the Pinochet regime’s repression, transposing their stories with the archaeological and astronomical research into the past. One segment of the film told the story of political prisoners learning about astronomy while at Chacabuco, the largest prison camp used by the Pinochet regime. The prisoners initially had the opportunity to observe the stars and study astronomy, but were then banned from doing so by the military because of the fear that escapees would attempt to use the constellations for navigation in the desert. One prisoner explained that the study of astronomy simply gave him and his fellow prisoners a sense of freedom. The film identified these men who survived their experience in the camps as transmitters of history.

Another prisoner, who was an architect, explained how he memorized the details of the layouts of five camps that he was in during his time in captivity. He measured the distances by pacing, and then made drawings at night by candlelight. Each morning, he would tear the drawings into shreds and throw them away. By repeatedly drawing and re-drawing the layout of the camps, he memorized them and then re-drew them while in exile in Denmark. When these camp layouts were published, they provided a shocking testimony of the abuses of the camps. Guzmán stated that this man and his wife embody a significant metaphor for Chile: memory and forgetting. The former prisoner remembered what he suffered in the camps, but his wife forgets more and more as she suffers the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

The film reported that the commission charged with investigating the human rights violations that occurred under the Pinochet regime concluded that approximately 30,000 Chilean citizens were tortured by the government. The commission also estimated that as many as 30,000 other victims did not come forward. Guzmán commented that the survivors are continually terrorized by the presence of those responsible in the general population, unprosecuted and unpunished for their complicity.

In another exchange with one of the astronomers, the question of searching for the past is raised again. This time, the astronomer observed that his search for the past allows him to rest well at night, while the search for the past carried out by the women of Calama likely does not allow the same peace of mind for them. He asserted that Chilean society is comfortable with his searching, but is not comfortable with the searching of the women, who continue to walk through the Atacama Desert in search of the remains of their loved ones or others’ loved ones—victims of the violence carried out by the government against its own citizens.

In a series of emotional interviews, several women recounted their searches for the remains of their own family members and the discoveries of remains of other victims that they have made. Guzmán referenced a whale skeleton that he saw in a museum as a boy and contrasted its place of honor in the museum with the anonymity of the remains of the victims of government violence that remain unburied and without a monument to honor them. The remainder of the film focused on the efforts of these women and others to search for the remains of victims and to commemorate the lives of those who disappeared.

The film concluded with the idea that memory is the key to being able to live in the present. Those without memory cannot live anywhere.

Questions & Comments:

Daisy Domínguez (City College of New York) asked if women were leading the drive to locate those killed by the Pinochet regime and bring people to justice because so many men had been killed. Gutiérrez responded that many Chilean men had been involved in those efforts as well, but the women whose male relatives had been disappeared had really taken the lead publicly.

Paloma Celis Carbajal (University of Wisconsin, Madison) asked how Cinema Tropical works with institutions of higher education on the specifics of screenings (such as logistics, funding, and speaker arrangements). Gutiérrez answered that the specifics are done on a case-by-case basis. He mentioned that the French government has a well-established system for offering reduced prices for films to universities to encourage them to organize film packages for tours. He said that Cinema Tropical is looking for ways to work more with librarians and other university organizations for screenings. Celis Carbajal responded that for many libraries, buying the institutional copy is seen as the best way to facilitate this kind of thing because costs beyond that (such as honorariums for speakers) become an issue due to limited library budgets. Gutiérrez suggested that filmmakers and university officials could work together to alleviate some of those issues, such as creating touring circuits where groups of universities collaborated, as well as bringing in local foreign consulates to help with certain aspects of the planning and expenses.

Panel 2, May 30 2011, 2:00 pm-3:30 pm

Moderator: Holly Ackerman, Duke University
Presenters: Bix Gabriel, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (not present); Pamela Graham, Columbia University; Patrick Stawski, Duke University; Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez, Princeton University
Rapporteur: Melissa Guy, Arizona State University

Holly Ackerman presented Bix Gabriel’s paper titled “Remembering Guantanamo: How Can We Build a Public Memory of this Site’s Century-long History?” which focused on the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, an ongoing project of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC).

The Guantanamo Public Memory Project highlights the reality that Guantanamo as a place of detention has a long, complex past. Today, nearly 200 prisoners remain indefinitely detained at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, but prior to 2001, Guantanamo also housed detainees. In 1991, the George H. W. Bush Administration held Haitian refugees fleeing the Aristide regime. In 1994, the U.S. government created camps to house Cuban refugees who had attempted to flee to the United States. The Clinton Administration created Camp X-Ray as a separate facility to house those refugees who “caused trouble” in the camps, which remained open for over a year.

Gabriel found that Guantanamo has had many “ends,” and each time the camps are closed, public memory fades. The Guantanamo Public Memory Project, which began in 2009, seeks to preserve memories of Guantanamo. The ICSC began the project to encourage individuals connected to Guantanamo to tell their stories. The short term goal is to “learn how it has been used and re-used,” to imagine its future, and become involved in determining the outcome of what happens there today. The long term goal is to establish comprehensive documentation about activities, individuals, and policies associated with Guantanamo. The project seeks an “ongoing forum for truth-telling, dialogue, and collective accountability.”

The ICSC is a network of about 250 historic sites of contested history. All sites of conscience are based on the idea that “preserving and interpreting history is as much an act in support of human rights as is waging a campaign for justice.” In 2009, the organization held its first international working group to develop a framework for the Guantanamo Public Memory Project with various stakeholders including historians, librarians, detainees and their lawyers, members of the military, and directors of sites of conscience. Four principles emerged: 1) the entire history of Guantanamo should be included in the project; 2) it must include multiple perspectives; 3) the project should avoid considering Guantanamo a “closed” history; 4) the coalition should be international in scope. Already the coalition has identified more than 1,000 resources (books, archives, films, etc.) on Guantanamo. The creation of a virtual site is also in progress, since the actual camps at Guantanamo are not accessible. Ackerman is a member of the Advisory Board of the project. More information can be found on the ICSC website at: http://www.sitesofconscience.org/activities/guantanamo-public-memory-project

Pamela Graham followed with her presentation titled “The Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research: Collecting, Preserving, and Promoting the Record of Human Rights.” The Center at Columbia was built around the acquisition of the archives of several major human rights organizations beginning with Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights First. The records of these organizations were originally acquired and organized at the University of Colorado, Boulder by Bruce Montgomery in the early 1990s. In 2004, the collections were transferred to Columbia where they have undergone additional processing, arrangement, and description. These particular archives are on deposit at Columbia; the human rights organizations continue to own the records.

In 2005, Columbia founded the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research to extend the scope of the collections acquired from Colorado, to expand the focus to the library’s general collection, and to develop digital projects. Archival materials are managed by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library while the Center focuses on programmatic collecting and promotion of materials. Graham runs the Center and collaborates with library staff including subject specialists in global area studies; processing archivists; the oral history research office; web collection curators; technical services; and the digital program division.

Collections include archival primary sources, published scholarly materials in the general collection, and born-digital material. This particular presentation focused on the archival material; a separate presentation in Panel 9 described the Center’s efforts to archive born- digital material on the Web.

Within the archival materials, the records of greatest value are those that document “what advocacy looked like.” Examples from the Amnesty USA collection include: circulars distributed to country groups, records related to disappeared persons in Chile, and correspondence from the Executive Director and Executive boards. Human Rights Watch/Americas Watch records reveal connections among NGOs including the Committee to Protect Journalists (whose records are also housed at Columbia) and also contain news releases, field notes from hot spots, and legal testimony.

Graham concluded her presentation by describing some of the challenges associated with collecting in human rights, including creating the actual archives, since the organizations are focused on advocacy, not records management. Legal and privacy issues are unique with human rights records; balancing those concerns with the desire to make the records accessible to users can be difficult. Preservation issues are always a concern, particularly with regard to born-digital materials and the shift to online production of records.

More information on the Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research can be found at: http://library.columbia.edu/indiv/humanrights.html

Graham’s presentation was followed by that of Patrick Stawski, the Human Rights archivist at Duke University, whose presentation, “History in Action: Connecting Students, Scholars and Community to Human Rights Histories & Practice” focused on human rights archival collections and outreach efforts at Duke. The collections at Duke focus on human rights activism of individuals and NGOs. Their 25 collections are format-neutral and global in scope.

Major Latin American holdings include the records of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and those of Coletta Youngers, a WOLA associate. The WOLA records span the years from 1974 to 2005 and contain information on human rights abuse cases, documentation of the organization’s efforts to lobby U.S. officials for policy change, and evidence of WOLA’s collaboration with local human rights organizations in Latin America.

Duke also houses the Marshall T. Meyer Papers, which document the Argentine rabbi’s role as a human rights activist, religious leader, and scholar from the 1950s through the 1990s. The records also detail his involvement with CONADEP, Argentina’s truth commission, of which he was the only Argentine-born member. A traveling exhibit highlights materials from this collection.

The collection at Duke also contains materials that focus on human rights issues in Latino communities in the United States. The Student Action with Farmworkers records document working conditions of immigrant communities and activism among labor and student groups.

Other collections at Duke include the records of the Center for International Policy and the papers of Patricia Murphy Derian, the first Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs under President Carter.

Outreach for these collections focuses on creating a bridge between students, faculty, the community and records creators and includes, among other things, the WOLA/Duke book award and a documentary film series. More information on the human rights archives at Duke can be found at: http://library.duke.edu/specialcollections/human-rights/

Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez completed the panel with his presentation, “From Underground to Open Access: Civil War, Society and Political Transition as Documented by the Archive of the Guatemala News and Information Bureau,” which focused on the transition of records from microfilm to open access digital material. The records of the Guatemala News and Information Bureau (GNIB) have been housed at Princeton since 2002. GNIB was created in 1978 in San Francisco as an activist group that sought to call attention to issues such as labor rights, indigenous rights and movements for peace and justice in Guatemala through informational campaigns, lobbying of U.S. officials, as well as educational and cultural programs.

Princeton had the collection microfilmed in 2004 with Primary Source Media. Nine academic libraries in the United States (including the Center for Research Libraries) own the 112 reels of film. In addition, Princeton donated a complete set to the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica (CIRMA) in Guatemala. Documents range from the 1970s to the present and include records related to the civil war in Guatemala and the peace accords of the 1990s. The microfilm is comprised of four sections: 1) grey literature and ephemera (about 60%); 2) serial runs (141 titles); 3) studies and reports (56 titles); and 4) news clippings (less than 1% of total.)

Princeton is now in the process of creating an open access digital collection of the first section of the GNIB archive. The first section (grey literature and ephemera) will be the only portion digitized due to its research value and unique content. Only the Guatemalan section of the NACLA archive comes closest to matching the richness of the GNIB records, but Princeton’s materials are unique in that they cover the years preceding and immediately following the peace accords. Section one of the GNIB records also complements the records of the National Security Archive project on Guatemala.

The open access digitization project was the result of conversations between the library and Princeton’s program for Latin American Studies about alternative access models for the Latin American political ephemera collection as a whole. In those conversations, five models of access emerged as possibilities:

1)      Outsourced microfilming and commercial distribution (already in place)

2)      Outsourced digitization, publishing, and distribution

3)      Outsourced digitization, internal publishing, and non-commercial distribution

4)      Internal digitization, internal publishing, and non-commercial distribution

5)      Consortial agreement with costs and responsibilities shared among participating institutions

Ultimately, Princeton decided to substitute the first, already established option with a combination of options three and five: outsourced digitization, internal publishing and non-commercial distribution as part of a consortial agreement. The GNIB archive was chosen as a pilot project because of its research value, the structure of the archive, the types of materials it contained, and its potential to reach wider audiences on a global scale. The ultimate goal is to create a searchable website for section one of the GNIB materials with contents described at the item level and open access to all images.

Partial funding for this ongoing project has been provided by the 2009 Cooperative Digitization of International Research Materials Project, sponsored by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, and a four-year TICFIA grant.

Acosta-Rodríguez concluded that the project has been complex and labor intensive, but also worthwhile. He believes that a consortial open access model for digitization is the best way to move forward with similar projects, and he hopes that SALALM and LARRP will be involved in future endeavors.

Questions & Comments:

Paula Covington (Vanderbilt University):Fernando, who funded this project?” Acosta-Rodríguez responded that funding came from a U.S. Department of Education TICFIA grant: $45,000 with matching funds plus labor from Princeton. James Simon (CRL) confirmed that TICFIA stands for Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Information Access.

 

May 30, 2011
9:00 am-10:30 am

Welcoming Remarks:

Nerea A. Llamas, SALALM President 2010-2011, University of Michigan
Joseph Holub, SALALM Local Arrangements Co-chair, 2010-2011, University of Pennsylvania
David C. Murray, SALALM Local Arrangements Co-chair, 2010-2011, Temple University
H. Carton Rogers, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries, University of Pennsylvania
Ann Farnworth-Alvear, Director of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania
Jonathan LeBreton, Senior Associate University Librarian, Temple University Libraries

Keynote Speaker:

Peter Kornbluh, National Security Archive:

Forensic Archivists and Active Archives: Advancing the Cause of Human Rights in Latin America through Archival Investigation

Rapporteur: Gabriella Reznowski, Washington State University

Nerea Llamas opened the session by thanking the sponsors and welcoming special guests to SALALM LVI. Llamas introduced Peter Kornbluh, recognizing his contribution to the preservation of memory in its various forms. Works Kornbluh has authored include: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, The Iran-Contra Scandal: the Declassified History, and The Pinochet File, among others.

Kornbluh began his presentation at the historic Warwick hotel by paying tribute to the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, recalling his boyhood visits to his grandmother’s home on 21st and Walnut Street. He introduced the topic of “Human Rights and Archives,” explaining that every archive has the potential to become a “moving monument” to history. Kornbluh challenged us to take this a step further, to ensure that they are active monuments: “How do we actively and aggressively build and apply archives to rewrite and reshape the present and advance the concept of truth, justice and dignity that is at the heart of the human rights issues we care about?”

Kornbluh’s talk centered on the idea that we can all be “activist archivists,” ensuring that the documents we collect and preserve are used to advance the cause of human rights. This theme is central to the work at the National Security Archive (NSA), where they are committed to freedom of information and human rights issues. Sharing an acronym with the National Security Agency, Kornbluh jokingly explained, “We refer to ourselves as ‘The Archive’ rather than the NSA, which of course is a very secretive organization.” He acknowledged that because the ‘National Security Archive’ has a sinister ring to it, people sometimes confuse the NSA with a secretive, government agency. Kornbluh held up a t-shirt that read: “Documentos o Muerte!” (Documents or Death!). Kornbluh explained this was the assertive,  almost revolutionary slogan of his organization.

Kornbluh explained that the NSA is the leading advocate for freedom of information and transparency laws, at home and abroad: “We have our church of the ‘right to know’ and we preach the gospel of the ‘right to know’ around the world.” Kornbluh stated that they take seriously those words that are so ironically and misleadingly engraved in the foyer of the Central Intelligence Agency: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” He continued, saying: “Freedom, true democratic participation, and accountability are all predicated on access to information.” Quoting Justice Louis Brandeis, Kornbluh referred to the philosophy espoused by the NSA: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Proceeding with his talk, Kornbluh presented a slide of a censored document related to Augusto Pinochet, stating: “This is what gets us going in the morning at the NSA: the censorship of history.” Much of the work of his organization is to uncover and pursue the text under the blacked-out part of such documents, as he asks: “Why do we have to have censorship like this?” Kornbluh further went on to describe the mission of the organization, as it works with key advocacy groups around the world to advance “freedom of information” laws. The NSA is responsible for establishing Sunshine Week in the U.S., also bringing the concept to other countries. His colleague, Kate Hill, was instrumental in drafting Mexico’s “freedom of information” laws, organizing the monitoring agencies that oversee them. Additionally, the NSA runs training programs on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the press, media programs, and reporters. The NSA is currently involved in providing training to the families of human rights victims in Chile, so that they may pursue documentation under the Chilean “freedom of information” laws.

Continuing, Kornbluh explained: “We’ve pushed and advocated for a special designation for the millions of pages of still secret U.S. documents that relate to human rights and oppression, a designation that would facilitate their expeditious declassification.” A slide showed the first pages of the November 23, 1997 proposal put forth by Congressman Tom Lantos, H.R. 26535: “The Human Rights Information Act” presented during the 1st session of the 100th congress. This act would expedite the release of all documents since 1944 that contain information about human rights violations. The CIA and FBI opposed the law, and it failed to pass. While other countries, such as Uruguay, Peru, and Guatemala adopt similar legislation, it is unfortunate that the U.S. is falling behind: “We work in a global arena now in archives, and other countries are adopting ‘freedom of information’ laws that have specific clauses for the expedited declassification of human rights documentation so that governments cannot hide these atrocities.”

Aside from advocating for the freedom of information around the world, the NSA is a repository for declassified documents. As Kornbluh explained, the organization has hundreds of boxes filled with papers, from which it publishes electronic briefing books, such as the forthcoming Fifty Years of Cuba Relations, also making its digital collections available through their website. The NSA has targeted documents related to Latin America, the history of nuclear war, terrorism, presidential decision making, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. NSA staff have made over 40,000 FOIA requests generating the declassification of over 700,000 documents. The organization has also been instrumental in generating the declassification of documents and pushing for collections at presidential libraries to be opened to the public through Mandatory Declassification Review requests. Kornbluh explained that if the NSA drew only on U.S. archives, this would be “informational imperialism.” The organization therefore conducts research in other archives around the world, including Library and Archives Canada, the British National Archives, and the Brazilian National Archives, in addition to an increasing number of archives in Latin America, which have started to yield “impressive and vast numbers of docs on human rights.”

Kornbluh urged the propagation of “investigative librarians” in a field where we generally have a passive, “build it and they will come” orientation toward users: “It is in the building of these archival collections that we all bring the creativity and interests that we have to accumulate groups of unique records.” At the NSA, Kornbluh explained: “We proactively build our collections on Latin America and human rights with very specific usages in mind so, and very specific and clear strategies for the dissemination of the information, so it will have a maximum impact on the cause of human rights, through the media, into the hands of the courts and the families of victims that need them.” Kornbluh described his role as that of a “forensic historian,” the crime scene investigator of human rights atrocities in Latin America where the “autopsy” on human rights crimes is performed by “exhuming” the secret records of the vaults of the organizations like the FBI and CIA.

Another role Kornbluh highlighted is the targeting of key collections of documents related to human rights investigations in order to advance truth, justice, and dignity in Latin America. In order to accomplish this, Kornbluh advocates for the aggressive and special use of the FOIA through familiarity with the types of documents that each agency generates and the variety of reporting addressed by each department. The NSA is familiar with the operations of the State Department, the FBI attachés, the Defense Intelligence attachés, and the types of meetings and minutes that are generated by each group. Another method used to obtain documents is through “discretionary declassification,” pressing presidents and leaders to decree the declassification of relevant documents on key cases in order to advance the cause of human rights.

Kornbluh took the remainder of the time to illustrate some of the agency’s work.

1. Freedom of Information Act work

Much of the agency’s FOIA work is geared toward Truth Commissions related to Latin America. There have been a few cases where the NSA had foreknowledge of the establishment of a Truth Commission. For example, they have already started doing FOIA work in the U.S. related to an upcoming Brazil commission. Another example involves Peru, where the NSA had two years lead time to prepare 200 FOIA requests related to Alberto Fujimori.

Kornbluh showed a Defense Intelligence Agency document confirming that Fujimori gave the order to raid and execute prisoners at a Japanese residency where MRTA guerillas had taken hostages. Fujimori gave the order that no member of the hostage takers was to be taken alive, even if they were to surrender. The document confirms that two members did in fact surrender, were executed, and their bodies arranged in such a way as to appear that their deaths occurred during a “shoot out.” This document was instrumental in Fujimori’s trial, as it illustrates that he was capable of an explicit human rights violation. The NSA played a significant role in the Fujimori trial, giving the judges and prosecuting attorneys 21 documents that were used as evidence in Peru. Further to the Fujimori trial, Kornbluh showed the slide: “Counterterrorism plan: secret annex for extrajudicial assassination,” a document confirming that a secret, extracurricular, extrajudicial assassination program would be set up against those Fujimori considered to be terrorists.

Another FOIA example relates to the Defense Intelligence Agency “Biographic Data Reports” containing lists of where specific Guatemalan commanders were posted. The NSA also obtained “Order of Battle Documents” from which they were able to develop a database of major massacre locations and the corresponding commanding officers related to the atrocities. The database was used in helping the U.N. Truth Commission to establish connections between commanders and massacres. Kornbluh also presented a CIA Intelligence Report used by the U.N. Truth Commission showing that Rios Montt gave specific authorization for “carte-blanche” repression in the indigenous regions of Guatemala. Documents also illuminate the U.S. role in counter-terrorism campaigns, condoning operations that were tantamount to massacres, tortures, and bloodshed.

A slide showed a CIA diagram related to the 1954 coup operations against Arbenz, illustrating “The Conference Room Technique,” or “how to assassinate a room full of Arbenz officials in less than 20 seconds … and blame the communists.” This was found in the appendix to a manual on assassination which detailed every conceivable way to kill a person, including a section on blunt instruments. Kornbluh published the first four documents as “op-art” in the New York Times “op-ed” page, characterizing it as one of the most chilling documents he has ever read that was generated by tax-payer dollars. The declassification of these documents resulted in so much publicity that Clinton felt compelled to apologize for them when he was in Guatemala in 1998. Characterizing the incident, Kornbluh stated: “This is an issue of memory; this is an issue of accountability. Changing the framework of relations, addressing a horrid history, in the hopes of generating changes in the future.”

2. Emerging Latin American archives

Increasingly, in-house documents from Latin America are becoming instrumental to the work conducted by the NSA. Kornbluh showed a slide of a Chilean intelligence report from a DINA operative and bureau chief in Buenos Aires, Enrique Arancibia Clavel. Clavel operated under covert cover as a banker, but coordinated collaboration between the Argentinean Secret Police and the Chilean Secret Police. The document confirms that Clavel had been given a secret report by the Argentine Intelligence Batallion 601 confirming that between 1974 and 1976, 22,000 people died or disappeared due to Argentine military actions. This is still the only official acknowledgment from an internal Argentinean military source that confirms these deaths.

On some occasions, documents are given to NSA members by sources from inside Latin America. Kornbluh presented a slide of the Guatemalan “Death Squad Diary,” a leather-bound log book recording 8 months of efforts by the Guatemalan secret police during 1983. This was literally handed to Kate Doyle in Guatemala, as Kornbluh stated: “Even military sources sometimes have pains of conscience.” Kate Doyle published the article “Looking into the secret archives of Guatemala’s bureaucracy of murder” in Harper’s magazine and the log book became instrumental in prosecuting Guatemalan human rights cases.

Kornbluh cited the most important archival find in recent Latin American history to be the national police files in Guatemala. A photo showed a rat-infested abandoned armaments depot in the middle of Guatemala City, where some 50 million pages of documents were found in rotting bags. The materials were sifted through and are now being used as evidence in human rights trials. Related to this find, Kornbluh presented a slide that honors four police officers involved in the kidnapping and death of Edgar Fernando García, a student leader and trade union activist captured by Guatemalan security forces in 1984. As a result of this document, the officers were sent to trial, found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The documents illustrate that García’s capture was an organized political abduction orchestrated at the highest levels of the Guatemalan government. The documentary film Granito focuses on this incident, as a group of women, including colleague Kate Doyle, bring cases from Guatemala to the Spanish courts. In the film, Fernando Garcia’s daughter talks about the impact these documents have had on her, as she is able touch and feel them. She herself has become a human rights investigator, sifting through the documents in the archive. Kornbluh explained that the value of his work is driven home when the families of the victims come to the NSA to touch the photos of their loved ones, placing mementos in the archival case containing the documents: “The community has come to this activist archive.”

Another slide related to the “Archivo del Terror,” a major Latin American find in Paraguay. Upon finding this abandoned police station, a human chain was formed to transfer 700,000 documents to a car for transport to the Supreme Court building. Found among the documents was the original set of invitations that brought Paraguay into Operation Condor.

Kornbluh said: “We live in a global world, and one archive is not enough; we now look at many archives to build an investigative story.” To illustrate this, Kornbluh presented a slide with mug shots found by NSA colleague Carlos Osorio in the Mexican Police archives. The photos are of two Argentine secret police agents arrested in Mexico City in January of 1970. Osorio found corroborating documents in Paraguay, Argentina and the United States, to uncover “Operation Mexico,” an Argentine secret police rendition program to find and capture Monteneros living in Mexico City. Through the program, the agents captured “Tucho” Valenzuela, his wife, and two children, telling Valenzuela that he will identify other Monteneros, or risk losing his family. Valenzuela escaped from his captors and brought the story to the Mexican police who then found and arrested the Battalion 601 agents, taking the resulting mug shots. In the spirit of counter-terrorism, the Mexican police return Valenzuela to the two Battalion members and deport everyone back to Argentina. Since the operation had been blown, 14 people held at a detention center were executed to cover up the case, including Valenzuela’s wife. The children were adopted by military families, and finally reunited at the 2010 trial where the commanders were ultimately convicted.

3. Discretionary Declassification

Presenting a slide of the British warrant for Pinochet’s arrest in October of 1998, Kornbluh explained that documents are obtained by pushing presidents and leaders around the world to approve discretionary declassification. Kornbluh recalled the NSA’s ability to pressure the Clinton Administration on discretionary declassification of documents from Chile, resulting in the release of 24,000 items, including an internal diagram of the structure of the Chilean secret police. A slide entitled, “CIA Reports on Repression in Chile Ties Pinochet to Abuses,” shows that General Manuel Contreras took his orders from Augusto Pinochet, and Pinochet alone. Another slide shows Kissinger’s attitude toward Pinochet, when in a September 29, 1975 meeting with Admiral Caravajal, he complains: “I have read the briefing book my staff has prepared for me on this meeting, and it’s nothing but Human Rights.” Although Pinochet was never convicted, Kornbluh feels that these documents ensure that you still have a verdict of history.

Questions & Comments:

David Block (Cornell University) asked the only question: “In the context of your present work, what do you make of Wikileaks?”

Kornbluh replied that Wikileaks is essentially a techno-media organization that accepted almost 700,000 documents from U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning and placed them on a network. What sets Wikileaks apart is the magnitude of the documents, and the use of technology to distribute them. The NSA has a different modus operandi than Wikileaks. For the most part, the NSA does not deal in leaked materials, but rather advocates for transparency with regards to government information. However, Kornbluh recommended that we compare Julian Assange’s reception to that of Bob Woodward: “Nobody is talking about prosecuting Bob Woodward, and nobody should be talking about prosecuting Assange either.”

Panel 19, July 27, 2010, 9:00 am-10:30 am

Moderator: David S. Nolen, Mississippi State University
Presenter: Christopher Moore (Film Maker)
Rapporteur: Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba, Florida State University

 

This session was a screening of the film Moving Pictures o Los Autos de Caracas. The filmmaker was present and available for additional conversation and questions after the screening, but the screening took up all the time allotted. This film was a sequel to an earlier film, done in 2006, when Moore and two fellow undergraduate students at Trinity College went to Venezuela to interview people with different perspectives on Hugo Chávez. At this time, the country was quite polarized. Moving Pictures o Los Autos de Caracas, filmed in 2010, brought the three back to the same five regions, to reconnect with the same people.

 

Moving Pictures o Los Autos de Caracas, a title which refers to modes of transportation (and the importance of oil in Venezuela’s history, contemporary society and political-economy) as well as the process of self-identity construction, provides a fascinating look at Venezuela’s recent political and social history. The film’s inclusion of very different viewpoints (provided through interviews and accompanying film footage), culminated in a remarkably balanced perspective.

 

Those interviewed included individuals at Chávez’s campaign headquarters as well as people representing opposition parties; residents of an Amazonian village, an urban barrio constructed on a hill, and a town on the shores of Lake Maracaibo, that has sunk because of all the holes poked in the lake to extract oil. Each case provided unique insight into the inner-workings of Venezuela’s political-economy and society. For example, the government’s efforts to build a retaining wall and then build houses in a different location to remedy the dislocation of those living in the Maracaibo community were limited because out of 400 homes, only 8 people from the original community were living there. Other homes had been invaded by people with connections to the contractors who built them. Others questioned Chávez’s so-called “Socialist” orientation, arguing that if anything, people are becoming increasingly selfish and privatization is on the rise. For example, one member of another community explained that people used to share all of their food but this was no longer the case. Such personal testimonies were supplemented by interviews with Venezuelan and North American academics who explained, among other things, that Chávez’s administration made top-down decisions intended to serve the interests of the poor, but allowing for all to have a voice in the process was not a priority. In short, this was a compelling and fascinating look at contemporary Venezuela.