Vicki Gass established WOLA’s Rights and Development program, which focuses on the relationship between human rights, economic development and US policy. She follows foreign aid and trade policy, with a special emphasis on poverty reduction, labor rights and the rural sector in Latin America. She has done extensive work on Honduras since the 2009 coup d’état and on Haiti reconstruction efforts since the 2010 earthquake.
Ms. Gass has analyzed how trade liberalization impacts the agricultural and rural sectors in Latin America, as well as whether trade agreements strengthen labor rights practices and reduce poverty. Publications on this theme include “Trade is not a Development Strategy.” Her recent work includes analyzing how under-development contributes to out migration, and exploring poverty reduction strategies such as conditional cash transfers.
Her work on Honduras, including testimony before Congress has focused on the constitutional crisis and disruption to democratic order, stressing how fundamental structural issues and institutional weaknesses contributed to the crisis and continue to present barriers to a lasting reconciliation. On Haiti, she has focused on promoting rural development in US foreign aid packages and citizen participation in the reconstruction process.
Ms. Gass has been working on Central American social and economic justice issues since 1984, and has lived in both El Salvador and Honduras. From 1999-2001, she led regional advocacy efforts in Central America following Hurricane Mitch for WOLA and Oxfam America. Her work helped to ensure the participation of local civil society organizations in meetings of international donors and in the design of post- Hurricane Mitch reconstruction strategies.