Security and Development Seminar Series

The Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University has launched its new Security and Development Seminar Series.

Over the 2016-2017 academic year, CID hosted four high-level discussions exploring the intersections between security, growth, and development in Latin America. 

Led by Thomas Abt, Senior Research Fellow at CID, and Joao Manoel Pinho de Mello, Lemann Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the sessions featured presentations from prominent academics, practitioners, and policymakers.

Watch the videos of each session          Listen to the audios and interviews with the speakers       

Session 1 - Corruption, Impunity & Development

Corruption, Impunity & Development in Latin America

This session explores how corruption and impunity obstruct development in Latin America, with a focus on Mexico.

Listen to the podcast:

Listen to our post-session interview with Lourdes Morales and Marco Fernandez.


Ricardo HausmannRicardo Hausmann
Director, Center for International Development and Professor of the Practice of Economic Development, Harvard University.



Thomas Abt
Senior Research Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Center for International Development



Lourdes MoralesLourdes Morales
Associate Professor, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (CIDE)



Marco FernandezMarco Fernandez
Research Professor, School of Government, Tec de Monterrey; Research Associate, México Evalúa



Related content:

Fighting Corruption Won't End Poverty - R. Hausmann for Project Syndicate

Mexico: The Fight Against Corruption - Research paper by Mauricio Merino Huerta

Session 2 - Inequality, Crime and Development

Transnational Crime: Gangs, Guns, Drugs, and Development in Latin America
This session explores how trafficking in illicit drugs, weapons, and persons by transnational criminal organizations impedes development in many Latin American countries.

Listen to the podcast:

Listen to our post-session interview with the speakers.

Thomas Abt
Senior Research Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Center for International Development

Daniel Mejia
Secretary of Security of Bogota, Colombia



Steven Dudley
Co-director, InSight Crime, Wilson Center


Joao De MelloJoão M P De Mello
Lemann Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies


Session 3 - Transnational Crime: Gangs, Guns, Drugs & Development

Inequality, Crime and Development in Latin America

This session explores the causal relationships between inequality, crime, and violence, understanding the former as a both cause and effect of the latter. The relative importance of proximate vs. root causes of crime and violence is also be debated.

Listen to the podcast:


Joao De MelloJoão M P De Mello
Lemann Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies



Rodrigo R. SoaresRodrigo R. Soares
Lemann Professor of Brazilian Public Policy and International and Public Affairs



Filipe CampanteFilipe R. Campante
Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School



Emily OwensEmily Owens
Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of California, Irvine



This event is co-sponsored with:

DRCLAS logoLatinx caucusLatin American Caucus





& Harvard Kennedy School's Brazilian Caucus

Session 4 - Violence, Insecurity, and Development

Violence, Insecurity, and Development in Latin America


Latin America has the highest rates of interpersonal violence in the world. In this session, leading experts explore the causes, correlates, and consequences of this violence, with an emphasis on the Northern Triangle region, which includes El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.



Nathalie AlvaradoNathalie Alvarado-Renner is currently a Citizen Security Lead Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where she is in charge of leading the Citizen Security and Justice Team of the Institutional Capacity of the State Division. Mrs. Alvarado has twenty years of experience working in this field and since 2012 has overseen the design and implementation of more than 20 of the Banks’ operations. She has also been responsible for defining the IDB’s Citizen Security and Justice action strategy and knowledge agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean. Ms. Alvarado has contributed to integrating this sector as a main priority of the Bank’s development agenda and to position the IDB as a key partner of the region in this area. Her work on police reform, urban safety, and violence prevention has been published in international newspapers and academic journals.  Mrs. Alvarado holds a law degree from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and a Master degree in Economic Law from the University of Brussels, Belgium.


Daniel OrtegaDaniel Ortega is the Director of impact evaluation and policy learning at CAF. He has a Ph.D. in Economics, University of Maryland College Park (August 2002). M.A. in Economics, University of Maryland College Park (December 2000). B.A. in Economics, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas (July 1997). At the moment, Daniel is the Director of Impact Evaluation and Policy Learning at CAF and associate Professor (Adjunct) at Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) since 2004. Previously Daniel was the Impact Evaluation Coordinator and Senior Economist at CAF from 2006 to 2014. He also was Research Economist at the Economic Advisory Office to the National Assembly of Venezuela (2002-2004).



Thomas AbtThomas Abt is a Senior Research Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy with the Center for International Development. Both in the United States and globally, Thomas teaches, studies, and writes on the use of evidence-informed approaches to reducing gun, gang, and youth violence, among other topics. He also serves as a Senior Fellow with the Igarapé Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and as an Advisory Board Member to the Police Executive Programme at the University of Cambridge. Before joining Harvard, Thomas served as Deputy Secretary for Public Safety to Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York, where he oversaw all criminal justice and homeland security agencies, including the Divisions of Corrections and Community Supervision, Criminal Justice Services, Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and the State Police. During his tenure, Thomas led the development of New York’s GIVE (Gun-Involved Violence Elimination) Initiative, which employs evidence-informed, data-driven approaches to reduce violence.


MarcelaMarcela Escobari is currently a visiting Fellow at Brookings Institution in their Global Economy and Development program. She spent the last year of President Obama’s administration as Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. Marcela was confirmed by the US Senate and joined USAID in May 2016, and led the bureau and its initiatives on poverty, inequality, citizen security, and governance. Throughout the region, USAID has 13 bilateral missions, 3 regional missions, and U.S.-based programs focusing on democracy, humanitarian assistance, and the environment. The bureau manages an annual budget of approximately $1 billion.