Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played an important role at the local level in Latin America in the areas of rural development and social infrastructure (such as providing education, health care, and sanitation). Despite the fact that NGOs are commonly perceived as apolitical, Canadian NGOs have also played a leading role in shaping official relations with Latin America. Without the public education and advocacy roles performed by certain NGOs, particularly over issues related to Central America, Canadian foreign policy might have been much more limited. Canadian NGOs have thus become important not just as vehicles of development assistance but also as links between civil societies in the North and South and as the nagging conscience of the Canadian state in its relations with Latin America. Recent changes in both Canada and Latin America have, however, called into question the traditional orientation of NGO activity and presented creative new opportunities for NGO action in cooperation with the Canadian state.

Institute of Political Economy

Macdonald, L. (1993). Current and Future Directions for Canadian NGOs in Latin America. In A Dynamic Partnership: Canada’s Changing Role in the Americas (pp. 113–130).