HACIA Democracy is an annual conference that simulates the proceedings of the Organization of American States (OAS). The conference is aimed towards high school students interested in democratic advancement and development. HACIA’s founding members conceived of the organization as a forum to offer an educational experience that focused on domestic and regional issues in the Americas. Since its inception in May 1994, HACIA’s staff and participants have continued to explore and address a diverse range of topics affecting countries in the Western Hemisphere.
The organization is based at Harvard University, and is staffed and entirely administered by Harvard undergraduates. HACIA also has faculty advisers at Harvard with an established academic and personal interest in the American continents. The organization’s staff is drawn from a wide variety of intellectual and cultural backgrounds, who share a common interest in Latin America and international affairs.
HACIA Democracy was founded in May 1994 by Harvard undergraduate students who aimed to create an educational government simulation that focused on domestic and international issues in the Americas.
In its first year, HACIA Democracy launched a research, recruitment, and fundraising campaign. The energy and support of the International School of Panama was crucial to the success of HACIA Democracy’s first conference (Expo ’95, Panama City, Panama). Delegations from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama attended this first conference. The conference expanded and improved each year. HACIA’s 1999 summit left Panama for the first time, and was held in Costa Rica. That year, for the first time, public school students participated in the conference. This, along with the creation of HACIA’s first Spanish language committee, allowed more diverse points of view than ever to be voiced at the summit.
HACIA has also enjoyed geographical diversity among its delegations. We had, for example, the unique privilege of welcoming a delegation from China in 2009. Following in this tradition of continuous growth, HACIA Democracy successfully moved the conference for the first time to South America in 2011 and the Caribbean in 2013, showing that the opportunities for growth of this young democratic forum are limitless.
As HACIA moves into its 26th Summit, it has become the largest and most diverse OAS simulation in the world. Since its inception, thousands of students have attended the conference from dozens of schools around the world, and it is our vision that we continue to teach the region’s youth for years to come.