Harvard’s HACIA Democracy is the Largest Simulation of the OAS in the World

by Beatriz on January 29, 2013

Best Delegate has noticed the impact of HACIA Democracy on Latin American youth and we decided to have HACIA President Rodolfo Diaz introduce the organization. The 2013 HACIA Democracy’s XIX Summit of the Americas will be hosted in the Caribbean for the first time, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, between March 14th and 17th.

 The Harvard Association Cultivating Inter-American Democracy (HACIA Democracy) was founded to provide high school students from across the Americas with the opportunity to learn about domestic and international issues affecting the lives of their fellow citizens and the development of robust democracies. The Summit of the Americas gives high school students from across the region the opportunity to assume the role of ambassadors of the Americas and simulate the proceedings of committees of the Organization of American States (OAS). Over the past 19 years, HACIA has become the largest and most diverse OAS simulation in the world, attended by over 700 participants from more than 30 schools from all over the Americas.

How is HACIA Democracy Unique?

  • Meet the Current Leaders of the Americas: In past years, in-committee speakers have included current ministers from the host country as well as other influential academics and activists. At last year’s conference, the Vice-President of Panama himself was the opening speaker.
  • Personalized Attention: Committees at HACIA Democracy emphasize a more intimate setting thus allowing students participants to personally meet and interact with their co-chairs who in turn continue to serve as mentors even after conference.
  • Cultural and Social Experiences: In addition to offering an engaging committee experience, HACIA organizes social and cultural activities such as “A Taste of HACIA” and “Talent Show Night” that allow students to display and share the unique cuisines and customs of their home country.
  • International Setting: The location of the annual Summit of the Americas changes every year, allowing participants to experience the culture and history of a new country every year, while also forging friendships with students from everywhere inthe Western Hemisphere.

The 2013 HACIA Democracy’s XIX Summit of the Americas will be hosted in the Caribbean for the first time, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, between March 14th and 17th.

Interested in Attending HACIA Democracy 2013?

Feel free to visit their website http://www.haciademocracy.org/ or contact them personally via email at president@nullhacia-democracy.org.

Here we include a brief summary of last year’s (2012) competition committees:

Delegates during a midnight crisis

Westin Playa Bonita, March 2012

Delegates arrive at the brand new Westin Playa Bonita Resort, with a private beach and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and lush volcanic islands.  Delegates are given time to relax, socialize, and enjoy the locale before going to bed.  Shortly after registration closes the next day, delegates are treated to a buffet breakfast and a welcome speech by the Vice President of Panama.  The first committee session then commences.

Panama City, February 1988

General Manuel Noriega calls a meeting of his top military officers and civilian bureaucrats to La Comandancia, his fortress-like executive residence.  They gather to discuss the direction their country will take after the recent deposition of the disloyal President Delvalle.  The future of the Noriega regime is uncertain, with a struggling economy, an increasingly vocal opposition, and a heightened level of scrutiny from its northern sponsor, the United States.  Noriega and his men know that maintaining their hold on power will require a careful balance of propaganda, appeasement, and force.

As the committee progresses, the cabinet is faced with a series of events that force them to debate amongst each other and to develop appropriate responses that also fit in with their long-term objectives.  A run on the banks is the first such challenge, followed by economic sanctions and freezing of the regime’s assets imposed by the Reagan administration.  Meanwhile, public opinion of the regime continues to decline in the face of these challenges.

Westin Playa Bonita, March 2012

Delegates are treated to “A Taste of HACIA,” in which delegations share food from their respective countries with each other while discussing the day’s events and preparing for the second day of debate.

Panama City, August 1988

The Noriega cabinet has restored some degree of normalcy to the economy by restoring the confidence of foreign investors with a dollar guarantee on investments.  Meanwhile, details regarding the General’s connections with the Medellín Cartel continue to surface, causing further public outcry and political hawkishness on the part of the United States.

The cabinet begins to look for allies outside of the Western Hemisphere to replace both its lost trade with the US and to secure access to arms vendors in the case of a potential conflict with its former supplier.

Westin Playa Bonita, March 2012

Delegates participate in the conference’s talent show, showing off the music and dance of their home countries and enjoying the Westin’s catering.  The delegates of Noriega’s cabinet are treated to a discussion with the leader of an opposition newspaper during the regime.  Final plans are put in place before the last day of debate.

Panama City, May 1989

The much-anticipated presidential election commences, pitting President Manuel Solís Palma against the opposition leader Guillermo Endara.  The Noriega regime, aware of its slim chances of prevailing in a free and fair election, launches a massive initiative of voter intimidation and ballot stuffing, giving the election to Palma.  The election is condemned by both the domestic opposition and by the international community.

Panama City, December 1989

In the months after the fraudulent election, the popularity of the Noriega regime continued to sink.  At the same time, the cabinet spent hundreds of millions of dollars on new military technology from the Soviets to prepare for the expected US invasion.

At 0100 on December 20, the US armed forces struck against Panamanian Defense Force strongholds throughout Panama City.  Despite significant losses inflicted by the Panamanians’ new weapons, US forces neutralized the Panamanian military presence in the city, cornering Noriega and his cabinet inside La Comandancia.  After weeks of scheming, the cabinet finally turned Generalísimo Noriega over to the Americans in exchange for their freedom.

Westin Playa Bonita, March 2012

After a closing video, a speech from HACIA’s president, and the distribution of awards, delegates relieve tension at the conference’s closing dance party before one last night at the Westin.  Delegations are then free to explore historic Panama City and witness the history they simulated during conference.

Testimony from a former delegate:

“In 2011 I became the first public school student from Costa Rica to attend HACIA Democracy’s Summit of the Americas. The conference challenged my knowledge of the region and daily debates led me to acquire new perspectives as to our regions’ challenges. I will never forget the opportunity that HACIA gave me to flourish as a leader and engage and become friends with some of the brightest students from across the Americas.”

Eduardo Ramírez, Costa Rica

Interested in Attending HACIA Democracy 2013?

Feel free to visit their website http://www.haciademocracy.org/ or contact them personally via email at president@nullhacia-democracy.org.

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