This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford Foundation’s work in Latin America, where we have offices in Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago. Since 1962 we have invested nearly $1 billion in the region—supporting social change makers who are working to promote social justice, build more inclusive societies and create opportunities for all citizens. Earlier this year, we announced a package of special grants that will further strengthen these efforts and empower people throughout Latin America to have a voice in shaping the policies and institutions that affect their lives.

The foundation is marking this milestone with a daylong symposium and celebratory dinner, held in Rio de Janeiro, that will bring together visionary leaders and organizations to reflect on five decades of progress, discuss current challenges and look ahead to the next generations of work.



About the Symposium - Democracy, Prosperity and Equity in Latin America: Reflections and Aspirations

Welcome and Introductions (9:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m)
Democracy in Latin America: Taking Stock of Trends and Fault Lines
Democratic and human rights movements and campaigns have changed the lives of millions of people over the past 50 years, yet many of the most vulnerable citizens in Latin America remain excluded: indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, the LGBT community, the urban and rural poor, and far too many women and girls. How do we nurture a vision that will support ambitious expansion and deepening of democratic participation, human rights and prosperity for all?


Nilcéa Freire, Ford Foundation Representative, Brazil


Laura Greenhalgh, Executive Editor, O Estado de São Paulo


Marta Lamas, Feminist and Anthropologist
Rafael Pardo, Colombian Minister of Labor
Bernardo Sorj, Director, Edelstein Center for Social Research
Eduardo Stein, Former Vice President of Guatemala

Video: Tarcila Rivera Zea (11:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m)

A profile of Ford Foundation visionary, Tarcila Rivera Zea, who has pioneered efforts in Latin America to give indigenous people a national and global voice.

Lunch (12:00 p.m.-1:45 p.m.)

Musical Performance (1:45 p.m.-2:00 p.m.)

A special performance by singer, actress and poet Elisa Lucinda and pianist and composer João Carlos Coutinho.

Confronting Poverty and Inequality in Latin America (2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.)

Despite a decade of overall economic growth across Latin America one person in three lives in poverty, and the continent has the highest levels of income inequality in the world. The development of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs to help poor families buy food, keep their children healthy and pay bills has been one of more innovative approaches to this problem. But CCTs have limitations. What can be done to improve these programs, and to foster policy innovations to help lift families out of poverty and decrease the inequality gap?


Myriam Méndez-Montalvo, Ford Foundation Representative, Andean Region and Southern Cone


Mauricio Dias, Journalist


Myrna Cunningham, Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Emir Sader, Executive Secretary, Latin America Social Science Research Council (Clasco)
Carolina Trivelli, Peruvian Minister of Social Inclusion

Break (3:30 p.m.-3:50 p.m.)

Film Screening: “Viramundo” (3:50 p.m.-4:00 p.m.)

Brazilian musician and activist Gilberto Gil presents his vision of a more equal world in an excerpt from this documentary, directed by Pierre-Yves Borgeaud.

A Latin American Wave of Artistic and Cultural Expression (4:00 p.m.-5:45 p.m.)

The free flow of information and ideas is essential to healthy, progressive societies. But social, economic and political forces can cast a long shadow on the world of arts and culture, historically driving or defining its expression and reach. Who are the new voices that are shaping arts and culture in Latin American today? Are we seeing the emergence of a robust South-South dialogue on free expression? What impact might this have on political and economic life?


Mario Bronfman, Ford Foundation Representative, Mexico and Central America


Ariel Dorfman, Chilean-American Author and Human Rights Activist


Susana Baca, Peruvian Artist and Former Minister of Culture
Gael García Bernal, Mexican Actor, Director and Producer
Gilberto Gil, Brazilian Artist and Former Minister of Culture