By Diego Salvatierra

Last month LASO, the Latin American Student Organization, hosted its first ever Latin America Week. This weeklong series of events was a great way to bring Latin American culture and issues to campus. The week began on Monday, March 26th with a relaxed lunch conversation with former Argentine Minister of the Economy, Domingo Cavallo. Over sandwiches and coffee at the Union League Café, a group of about 15 students discussed Latin American and Argentine economic issues with Mr. Cavallo, a renowned public servant and Yale economist.

The week continued with a visit by Arturo Valenzuela, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs under Obama and adviser to the Clinton White House, on Tuesday and Wednesday, from Georgetown, where he currently teaches. In his State Department post, Mr. Valenzuela was in charge of US policy towards Latin America, responding directly to Secretary Clinton, from 2009 to 2011. Co-organized by the Yale Law School, Mr. Valenzuela’s visit included an event on Tuesday aimed at Law School students but open to everybody, and a more intimate event with undergraduates on Wednesday. During the second event, Mr. Valenzuela was introduced by our very own Dean García, and gave us a first-hand account of how US diplomacy is carried out, narrating anecdotes from both the Clinton and Obama administrations, as well as discussing US-Brazil diplomacy, inter-Latin-American relations, and other topics.

On Thursday LASO hosted Patricio Navia, a renowned Chilean political columnist and academic at NYU. Mr. Navia, whose columns feature regularly in Latin America’s major newspapers, discussed the region’s changing politics in the context of economic growth. He argued that as Latin America becomes increasingly middle-class, movements like Chile’s 2011 student protests might spread to other countries. He noted that the recent Chilean protests sparked not from hardship, but out of a desire for the country’s increasing prosperity to be shared more widely.

We finished the week with a Latin American food night on Friday in the SY Branford Room. With a great turnout of both Latin Americans and non-Latin Americans, we enjoyed Peruvian specialties such as Ají de Gallina and Lomo Saltado, accompanied by Inca Kola, a popular Peruvian soft drink. We also had Mexican tamales, Colombian empanadas, and flan with Leche Condensada for dessert.

All in all, a great success, a lot of fun, and we hope to do it again next year!

Here was the schedule for the week:

Monday, March 26, 1:00 PM, Union League Cafe 

  • "Institutions and Economic Growth in Latin America" Economic Discussion over Lunch with Domingo Cavallo, former Argentine Economy Minister and Senior Fellow of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

Tuesday, March 27, 4:30 PM, Sterling Law Building, Room 120

  • "Challenges and Opportunities for US Foreign Policy in Latin America"  The Yale Law School welcomes Arturo Valenzuela, President Obama’s Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the US Department of State from 2009 to 2011

Wednesday, March 28, 3:30 PM, LC 211

  • "Latin America and the Western Hemisphere"  A more intimate conversation with Arturo Valenzuela, moderated by Rosalinda Garcia, Assistant Dean of Yale College.

Thursday, March 29, 5 PM, WLH 116

  • "South America: Middle-Class Politics?" Political Discussion with Patricio Navia, Master Teacher of Liberal Studies Program at NYU and renowned Chilean political commentator:  Patricio Navia, at 5pm in WLH116. He will be discussing South America’s changing politics. With student protests in Chile, a rising middle class, and new presidents inPeru and Brazil, the times-are-a-changing! Mr. Navia is a renowned South American political commentator and scholar, writing regular columns for major newspapers in Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and other countries, as well as OpenDemocracy and America’s Quarterly. He currently teaches at NYU’s Liberal Studies program and at Chile’s Diego Portales University. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago, and a PhD from NYU. 

Friday, March 30, 5:30 PM, Saybrook-Branford Room

  • Latin American Food Night: Delicious food from amazing Latin American restaurants

Sponsored by: La Casa, Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee

LASO Elections for 2012-2013

On Wednesday April 18th, the Latin American Students Association held elections for their 2012-2013 board (Junta) over a casual barbecue enjoying the beautiful spring weather.  Here’s the results of the elections: congratulations to all!

President:              Murat Dagli PC’14
Vice-President:      Franco Sturla JE’14
Treasurer:      Maria Kouneli SY’14
Secretary:      Breanna Lujan PC’14
Political & Cultural Chair: Melina Sánchez TC’14
Social Chair:      Henrik Hartmann ES’15
Public Relations:      Julian Debenedetti DC’15

This past Friday February 10th, LASO and Sabrosura hosted the bimonthly cena a la seis at La Casa Cultural. The dinner had a great turn out with about sixty undergraduate students and two graduate students coming together to enjoy lomos saltado. Lomos Saltado is a Peruvian entree that has Asian influences (chifa) consisting of strips of sirloin marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and spices, then stir fried with red onions, parsley and tomatoes. Served traditionally over white rice with french fries. After dinner, we all had tons of fun playing musical chairs. One student facetiously remarked, “This is where true personalities really come out!”

With great people and amazing Latin cuisine, there is no reason not to attend! Come join the entire La Casa family next Friday February 24th for a delicious dinner hosted by Oye and Cause. Arrive promptly at 6 to ensure you get your portion of the scrumptious meal ordered from local restaurants! Please RSVP to if you plan to attend.

Laso Hosts Noche de Estrellas

On September 27th, the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) hosted its main cultural event of the year, Noche de Estrellas, in the Saybrook College Courtyard. In this year’s Noche de Estrellas, LASO hosted presentations by a Capoeira Group, Ballet Folklorico, students dancing Flamenco, one student playing salsa in an electric guitar, and students reading poetry in an open microphone session. The event was very successful and had more than 60 students attending it.

This past weekend, LASO (Latin American Student Organization) celebrated their 15th anniversary by hosting a Quinceñera. During the event, the current members and alumni commemorated their immense growth and accomplishments. They had a dinner at OISS that included a champagne toast, a slide show and video from past members congratulating the group.