In addition to the Latin American Series, which brings experts on and important figures in Latin American law and politics to Yale during the academic year, two other Law School programs that focus on Latin America hold activities in the region itself each summer, the Seminario en Latinoamérica de Teoría Constitucional y Política, colloquially known as SELA, and the Latin American Linkage exchange program, or Linkages.
This past June, 120 leading legal scholars, practitioners, and judges from eight Latin American and three Caribbean countries, the United States, and Spain convened in Bogotá for SELA 2023. Over the course of three days, the group discussed papers written for the seminar that analyzed, among other subjects, Chile’s constitutional conventions, transitional justice with particular focus on the Havana Peace Agreement in Colombia and the democratic transition in Argentina during the 1980s, access to justice in Mexico and Brazil, spillover effects of reproductive laws in the U.S. and Mexico, and the effect of shifting definitions of property rights on the Colombian peace process, on environmental conservation in Chile, and foreign investment in Brazil. In addition, Colombian photojournalist Jésus Abad Colorado gave the Robert H. Burt keynote address; representatives from the Colombian national press, academia, and government participated in a roundtable discussion of the Petro administration’s first year in office; and SELA co-director Teresa Miguel-Stearns from the University of Arizona led a parallel seminar devoted to the professionalization of legal research for librarians in universities and research institutions from Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina.
SELA offers a unique forum for the development and diffusion of constitutional and political theory by jurists committed to democratic principles. Members take full advantage of the opportunities for discussion and collaboration that deepen the ties between the members and partner institutions. SELA is also an invaluable resource for the other Latin America-focused programs at the Law School, especially the Linkages exchange.
This summer, eleven YLS students participated in the exchange, visiting our partner schools and meeting with judges, lawyers, officials, and activists. Three went to Chile, six to Argentina, and two to Brazil. Highlights included meetings with Supreme Court ministers who are also Yale graduates in Argentina and Brazil, NGOs devoted to indigenous land rights and environmental justice, delegates from the 2022-23 Constitutional Convention and the President of the Expert Commission for the second Constitutional Convention in Chile, and nearly being stranded in Mendoza, Argentina by a snowstorm in the Andes. Law students from our partner schools will spend a similar period at the beginning of the Spring 2024 semester meeting with lawyers, professors, judges, and student leaders for a behind-the-scenes look at legal education à la Yale.
Participants listening to SELA speakers on a session about property rights.