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Human Rights Watch Opens Office In Miami – But Not Just For Latin America

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth.

Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s major international human rights organizations, inaugurated its new office in Miami on Tuesday night.  But if you think it’s here just to keep an eye on Latin America and the Caribbean – guess again.

Some might ask why it took the New York-based Human Rights Watch so long to come to Miami, given the hemisphere’s chronic human rights issues, like this week's debate on the Venezuela crisis at the Organization of American States. HRW’s executive director Ken Roth says he understands if people do ask.

“Ironically we don’t have an office in Spanish-speaking Latin America," says Roth. "And that just was an anomaly that had to end. In many ways Miami is the capital of Latin America so this was the logical place to come.”

But Roth – who is in Miami to inaugurate Human Rights Watch's new Brickell office – says its portfolio is intended to be domestic as well as international – especially given the wave of xenophobia in this country.

“At this time of rising hatred and intolerance expressed toward immigrants and particularly Latinos," Roth says, "we want to elevate the success of Miami as an integrated city – one where Latinos have thrived.”

Human Rights Watch does have an office in São Paulo, Brazil.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.