Hispanic Forum Plans Panel on Human Rights

As part of an ongoing effort to raise Harvard awareness about Hispanic issues, the Harvard Forum on Hispanic Affairs (HFHA) is sponsoring its first school-wide event, a panel discussion that will focus on human rights in Latin America.

According to HFHA founder Joseph Zumpano '91, more than 100 members of the umbrella group will march on April 22 in a procession from Kirkland House to the Science Center to hear three leading experts on human rights, including a former prisoner of conscience in Cuba.

Armando Valladares, who spent close to 20 years in jail for opposing the regime of Fidel Castro, will give a personal account of his life as a political prisoner. Valladares, who has also written an international best-seller about his experiences, now serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Joel Rubinstein, a regional director of Amnesty International, will describe broadly the extent of human rights abuses in Hispanic societies worldwide, and Iris S. Gomez, a lecturer in law at Boston University, will discuss the plight of migrant workers in the Mexican border area.

Assistant Dean for Race Relations and Minority Affairs Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle called the forum "the first of its kind here at Harvard."

"The forum itself should be a process of much value, especially in the sort of institution where Latin people are feeling increasingly alienated," said Hernandez-Gravelle, who is also an advisor to the HFHA.

According to Zumpano, HFHA is a bipartisan organization of 30 student groups interested in worldwide Hispanic issues. Its member groups include Amnesty International, the Carribean Club, the Harvard Christian Fellowship and both the Harvard Democratic and Republican Clubs.

"We as a community of Harvard's Hispanics, Americans, Hispanic-Americans and others are uniting in an event in which we can exchange different perspectives on creating change in the areas of the world where human rights abuses, socioeconomic abuses and persecution plague the Hispanic peoples," Zumpano said.