The Georgetown University Latin American Conference – was designed to promote the discussion, debate and analysis of policies and political issues relevant to the Latin America region. This is an initiative that results from the coordinated efforts of students interested in the region, from six GU Latin American Associations: Latin American Policy Association (McCourt School of Public Policy), Graduate Association of Mexican Students (GSO), Latin American Law Students Associations (The Georgetown Law Center), Latin American Business Association (McDonough School of Business), Latin American Graduate Organization (Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service) and the Latin American Student Association (Georgetown College). The event also received the support of the Center for Latin American Studies and the Latin American Board, who both helped with the planning of the event.

GULATAM received financial support from The Global Futures Initiative, the Graduate Student Organization and, The Legorreta-Hernandez Foundation (Mexico).

In this first edition of GULATAM, the event was entitled “Latin America at a Crossroads,” and took place on Friday 13th of November, in the Healey Family Student Center. The event received important coverage of local and international media and attracted more than 160 students from GU and other of Washington. It also counted with the presence of students of Universities of other parts of the US specially invited for this event by the organization committee.

The Conference developed around the paramount question “Is Latin-America truly a rising region or will the internal challenges bring down the positive forecast?” and the debate was structured through three panels: Democracy, Public Governance and Public Sector Capacities; Investment, Business Development and Rule of Law; and Challenges Ahead for Latin America in the Global Context.

Thomas Banchoff, Vice-President of Global Engagement at Georgetown University, introduced the Conference, followed by the opening speech of Francisco Palmieri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America and the Caribbean in the U.S. Department of State. In his opening remarks, Vice President for Global Engagement Thomas Banchoff praised the initiative and Georgetown’s commitment to Latin America.

The Governance Panel was introduced by Dr. Joel Hellman, Dean, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University and moderated by Michael Shifter, President of the Inter-American Dialogue. The panelists were Jorge Muñoz, Mayor of Miraflores (Peru), and Amalia García, ex-Governor of Zacatecas (Mexico), who debated about the “crisis” of democracy and spoke about innovation and management policies for local governance, as well as about the future of government and the public sector capacities in the XXI Century.

The Business Development and the Rule of Law panel, was moderated by Ricardo Ernst, Managing Director of the Latin American Board at Georgetown University, panel will count with David M. Orta, Partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP; Carolina Walther-Meade, Partner of Project Finance Latin-America Practice Groups at Milbank and, James F. Martin (Managing Partner at Latin American Partners and Managing Director at EMP Global) and Roberta Brzezinski, Managing Principal, Growth Markets, CDPQ Washington. This panel touched the very important topics of FDI, private investment, and Rule of Law. The panelists also debated about new opportunities and challenges for doing business in Latin America, as well as about entrepreneurship and innovation.

After lunch, Dr. Edward Montgomery, Dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy, introduced Gustavo Rivera Loret de Mola, Special Projects Coordinator of the Legorreta-Hernandez Foundation. He gave a very interesting presentation on fighting corruption in Latin America. He proposed the argument that corruption in Latin America, although “is not cultural,” it pervades social relations, on the grounds that “helps solve the problems of everyday life.” The NGO he represents is working on a project to “increase the cost of being corrupt and the benefit of being ethical”.

The final panel was Latin American in the Global Context and was introduced by Diana Kapiszewski, Academic Director, Center for Latin American Studies, of Georgetown University and moderated by Barbara Kotschwar, Research Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The distinguished panelists were: Jorge Familiar, Vice President at the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean, Luis Miguel Castilla Rubio, Ambassador of Peru in the USA, and Thomaz Zanotto, Director of Trade Agreements in FIESP (Federation of State Industries of Sao Paulo), who spoke about Latin-America in the global context, policies to overcome poverty and inequality reduction, and about the role of multilateral organizations and international partners.

The event finished with words of the Organizing Committee who expressed that though this is the first year that the conference has been held, they were optimism that it will continue to grow in subsequent years. An informal cocktail was held in Epicurean Restaurant for organizers and distinguished guests that attended the GULATAM 2015 Conference.