CAMDEN — Although the area is often overlooked, Latin America has an economic growth rate projected to exceed that of Southeast Asia in 1998. The region has a population of a half-billion people, a land mass greater than the United States and Canada, combined with a trove of natural resources and vexing environmental and drug trade issues.
“We have every reason to be concerned about that area’s future,” said Roy M. Salzman, president of the Camden Conference.
This year’s conference will focus on “Latin America:Troubled Past, Uncertain Future” and will be held at the Camden Opera House Feb. 6-8.
“While the Cold War concerns about revolutionary turmoil, brutal military regimes and launching pads for communism seem to have receded, the seeds are still there for other threats to our well-being. The drug problem is intensifying, the long-term threat to the environment grows more ominous, the divisive battle over a proper immigration policy continues and NAFTA and its potential expansion is still a subject of bitter debate,” Salzman said.
With a preponderance of former State Department officials retiring in Camden, the development of the conference seemed a natural when it started 10 years ago. Since that time, conference topics have included Japan, Russia, China and Islam. Last year the role of the United States as the surviving superpower was explored.
The keynote address will open this year’s conference at 8 p.m. Feb. 6 on “Latin America: Myth and Reality,” by Peter Winn, professor at Tufts University and director of the Public Broadcasting System’s “Americas: Latin America and the Caribbean.” Winn is also senior research assistant at Columbia University’s Institute of Latin America and Iberian Studies.
The Saturday, Feb. 7, session will open at 8:45 a.m. with David Scott Palmer discussing the historical legacy of Latin America. Palmer is a professor of international relations at Boston University and author of “Shining Path of Peru.” At 9 a.m. economic issues in Latin America will be discussed by John Coatsworth, professor of Latin American Affairs at Harvard University and director of the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard.
The environmental crisis in Latin America will be the subject of an 11 a.m. presentation by Alexander Watson, executive director of the Latin American and Caribbean divisions of the Nature Conservancy.
The role of women in Latin American politics will be reviewed by a 1:45 p.m. panel composed of authors Eleanor Butchenhart, who wrote “Evolution of the Virgin of Guadalupe” and “Women’s Political Activism in Mexico;” Julie Johnson, who wrote “Brazilian Working Class Women under the Military Regime;” and Carrie Endries, author of “Women’s Resistance in Chile.”
Wayne Smith, a senior fellow of the Center for International Policy, will discuss the future of Cuba-U.S. relations at 3:15 p.m.
Mexico will open the Sunday, Feb. 8, discussions at 1 p.m. with a presentation by Jorge Dominguez, director of the Harvard Center for International Affairs and professor of international affairs. At 2:30 p.m. “Latin America and the Millennium” will be explored by a panel composed of Winn, Watson and Dominguez.
Closing remarks will be given at 4 p.m. by Salzman, a retired management consultant with extensive international business experience.
Registration is $75 per person through the Camden Conference at 236-1034 or P.O. Box 639, Camden 04843.