Latin America’s transition to democracy began forty years ago, but democratic civilian control over militaries remains far from complete. Too often, U.S. aid and engagement slow democratic progress, encouraging the region’s armed forces to take on domestic missions—from the drug war to policing that threaten human rights and tilt the balance of power away from civilians. Since the region’s officer corps are overwhelmingly males from dominant ethnic groups, a greater political role for militaries excludes women and marginalized populations from the security policymaking process.
WOLA seeks to document and explain U.S. security assistance programs, and to limit those that threaten human rights or expand militaries’ role in foreign and domestic policy making. We support accountable civilian control of defense forces, a clear separation between police and military functions, accountability for human rights violations and corruption, and peaceful collaboration to reduce threats and resolve conflicts.