by Roland Álvarez Chavez, 2012-2013 President Néstor Kirchner Fellow
My experience as a President Nestor Kirchner Fellow 2012-2013 was an honor and a challenge at the same time. It was an honor as I had the opportunity to continue the legacy and ideals of Nestor Kirchner in the creation of an integrated region with development for all, with inclusion and respect for human rights; and a challenge, because this experience meant the possibility to implement the construction of a society that meets those ideals.
In my point of view, the Fellowship is unique in nature, due to the excellent combination of academic work and social engagement that is requested of the Fellows. In my opinion, these components are complementary necessary for a better understanding of reality and its problems. Exclusively academic work often has too much pretension in its ability to explain a fact or reality just from the capacity of abstraction and theory building; and the only explanation from the public service requires the use of theory for a better and deeper analysis of causes and factors. The cross-section of the two produces richer explanatory and interpretative abilities, which provides greater capacity for understanding, and therefore to resolve problems or conflicts.
Academically, the Kirchner Fellowship offered me the right time to have a kind of break to dialogue with my academic work, with my ideas and arguments about central issues for the region: democracy, inclusion, development, human rights, and public policy; which is even more important in a country like Peru where the current context does not support human rights issues of the most vulnerable communities, such as the case of the LGBT population. I mention the right time, because after several years of academic work and activism in Peru, I feel that it was a necessary time to expose some assumptions and arguments that have been building in within various specializations, and also in a space that seeks to promote and encourage this level of analysis in Latin American, like Kirchner Fellowship does.
The meetings with different academics provided diverse points of view about my work, and recommendations to consider for my own research, which in this time of dialogue with my ideas I decided to start promptly. I appreciated the feedback centered on relationships and tensions between society, social movements, and state as well as in the meeting point between economic factors and social phenomena, as in the case of migration, a process which can affect the construction of identities in transnational spaces, through personal and interpersonal negotiations and which exert an influence on various aspects of daily life, including the exercise of sexuality and gender identity and survival practices.
At the level of politics, advocacy and civil society organizations, it was interesting to have a comprehensive picture of the range of organizations working on an international level, in front of UN for example, conducting advocacy on representatives of countries in the implementation of international recommendations or conventions protecting the rights of LGBT people. At the same time, meeting organizations as "Riviera Sylvia Law Project", working at a grassroots level to support low-income, informal migrants, African-descendent LGBT people, and with special emphasis on trans people, gave me the opportunity to confirm the urgent and necessary response to poverty, migration policies, employment creations programs, and the need to focus efforts on the most deprived people.
Finally, there is a commitment on my part to continue the work of promoting and defending human rights, my conviction in the principle of inclusive development and regional integration. In addition I consider the President Nestor Kirchner Fellowship as an opportunity for South America to promote critical and socially engaged thinking that faces reality and will allow for transformation to the benefit of our nations.
Peru, March, 2013