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The Harvard Forum on Hispanic Affairs (HFHA) will host student representatives from several area colleges today for its second annual congress addressing Latin American issues.
A group of Hispanic students formed the Harvard Forum on Hispanic Affairs (HFHA) early last fall to address topics that concern all Hispanics, said HFHA President Juan L. Betancourt '93.
"Within the term Hispanic there are many diverse cultures: Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, etc. There is often tension between these groups," said Betancourt. "We wanted to alleviate that problem."
Ivan Montoya '92, HFHA's cominister of public affairs, said the congress is intended to increase public awareness of Latin American issues. In addition, he said, much of the conference will be spent making plans for HFHA's second annual forum.
The theme of last year's spring forum was human rights violations in Latin America. This year's event, tentatively scheduled for early April, will address the issue of Hispanics in American politics. Betancourt said the key speakers may include former U.S. Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos, former Governor of Florida Bob Martinez, and the mayor of Denver, Federico Pena.
HFHA organizers said that during the congress the student representatives will be voting to decide what issues should be addressed at this year's forum.
"Then we know what issues are important to the people in the area," said Betancourt.
Today's event will be attended by students from several New England colleges, including Babson College, Boston University, Brandeis College, MIT, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts, Wellesley College and Yale University.
Betancourt said that HFHA is planning to distribute a newsletter in the Boston area. He added that HFHA would eventually like to have two forums a year and to publish a magazine for each one, highlighting the forums' themes.
"We want experts and members of the community writing in the magazine to get a diverse perspective on the issue," he said.
Montoya said he hopes the magazine will enable HFHA to work on a more "grassroots" basis.
"As far as future goals are concerned, we are hoping to have more financial resources so we can help fund other groups," he said. "We want to become a sounding board for groups interested in Latin-American issues."
Betancourt said the group has had trouble obtaining adequate funds from the Undergraduate Council and the Harvard Foundation. In an effort to raise more money, he said he plans to organize a Friends of HFHA club, which would ask for donations from Hispanic Harvard graduates.
Vivian M. Sanchez '92, who is also co-minister of public affairs, said she is pleased with the progress HFHA has made so far.
"The people from the different organizations seem very optimistic and I think we have been successful in emphasizing our differences as well as overlooking them when necessary," she said. "We've come together to accomplish a common goal."
Following the congress, which will be held in Boylston Hall, HFHA will be sponsoring a dance in the Lowell House dining hall with instruction on the Lambada.
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