Council on Hemispheric Affairs

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Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Formation 1975
Type Non-governmental organization
Headquarters Washington, D.C., United States
Revenue (2012)
Expenses (2012) $59,858

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) is a Washington, D.C.-based non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1975. In its own words, it was established to "promote the common interests of the [Western] hemisphere, raise the visibility of regional affairs and increase the importance of the inter-American relationship, as well as encourage the formulation of rational and constructive U.S. policies towards Latin America." [2]

COHA is dedicated to monitoring Latin American affairs, especially within the context of United States and Canadian foreign policy and its effect on the region. Working with a large number of unpaid research associates (undergraduate and graduate interns) and a small core of professional research fellows to improve hemispheric relations and advance the public good. Cohistas, as COHA staff is sometimes known, constantly analyze a number of ongoing themes including social justice, equal rights, anti-corruption measures, and the enhancement of democratic rights. COHA's staff spends a great deal of time gathering information to write and publish research memoranda that may later be published around the world by the international media. COHA also produces its bi-weekly publication, the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, which is circulated globally to various universities and organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS). It has been acknowledged and praised by members of the U.S. Congress[citation needed], other media sources who rely on COHA for news regarding the Western Hemisphere, scholars, and individuals of various backgrounds who have an interest in the region.


The Council on Hemispheric Affairs was founded in 1975 to promote the interest of the American hemisphere, to take regional issues into focus and to reinforce the importance of inter-American relations. One focus is the development of a constructive US policy with regards to the Latin American countries. COHA decided in 1982 that in the future it will observe Canada's relations with Latin America. Since its inception, the leadership of the COHA is made up of representatives of major trade unions, organizations and religious groups, and also includes important civic and academic figures. COHA supports representative democracy and pluralistic institutions. COHA is non-partisan and is not part of political alliances. It supports open and democratic political processes and condemns all authoritarian regimes. In the past, the COHA has expressed criticism of US policy towards Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and neo-liberal social reforms in Latin America.[3]

The Director

Larry Birns has been the director of COHA since its founding in 1975. A former defense researcher and strategist and member of the Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and a member of Oxford's All Souls College, he was a senior grade public affairs officer for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America in Santiago, Chile during the Allende government. Birns taught and lectured for 15 years in the fields of Latin American studies, comparative government, and international law at a number of U.S. and British colleges and universities.

Independent perception

The Boston Globe describes Birns as a lobbyist and a liberal critic of U.S. policy,[4] and The New York Times says the Council on Hemispheric Affairs is a liberal research group specializing in United States-Latin America relations.[5] The Los Angeles Times describes the COHA as a liberal think tank.[6]

The Heritage Foundation stated that the Council on Hemispheric Affairs had a leftist positioning and would exaggerate negative publicity about right-wing governments in Latin America and was funded by Orlando Letelier.[7] The council was also described as a leftist lobby by Ofira Seliktar in Failing the Crystal Ball Test.[8] The Daily Beast noted in an article that the council defends Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian Revolution.[9]


The Council on Hemispheric Affairs was allegedly founded with the assistance and funding from Orlando Letelier and Richard Barnet of the left-wing think tank, Institute for Policy Studies.[7]

See also


  1. "Council on Hemispheric Affairs" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 17 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. About COHA - Council on Hemispheric Affairs
  3. "About COHA". Council on Hemispheric Affairs. Retrieved 16 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Stephen Kinzer, Globe Correspondent. Coping with Latin America; At issue: how should we deal with leftists. Boston Globe Boston, Mass.: Jul 15, 1980. pg. 1
  5. TREASTER, JOSEPH B. MAN IN THE NEWS; LATIN ENVOY: MR. SIMPATICO. New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Jun 2, 1983. pg. A.7
  6. T. Christian Miller and Stephen Ixer. A Top Chavez Foe Jailed for Role in Strike; Renewed protests are possible as the regime targets two business and union leaders. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 21, 2003. pg. A.3
  7. 7.0 7.1 Frawley, Joan. "The Left's Latin American Lobby". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 20 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Seliktar, Ofira (2000). Failing the crystal ball test : the Carter administration and the fundamentalist revolution in Iran ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Westport, Conn [u.a.]: Praeger. p. 44. ISBN 0275968723. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Moynihan, Michael (24 February 2014). "Venezuela's Useful Idiots". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 20 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links