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UT awarded $3 million to promote democracy

Dr. Peter Flawn, UT Austin president ad interim, today announced the award of a $3 million technical assistance grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to UT. The grant will assist the Congress of Guatemala in a three-year program designed to strengthen the legislature and consolidate democracy in that war torn country.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Dr. Peter Flawn, UT Austin president ad interim, today announced the award of a $3 million technical assistance grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to UT. The grant will assist the Congress of Guatemala in a three-year program designed to strengthen the legislature and consolidate democracy in that war torn country.

“This is an exceptionally important event,” Flawn said.

Less than one year ago, the government of Guatemala and leaders of the guerrilla movement signed Peace Accords and put an end to more than 36 years of civil war. With funding from USAID, the University’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and Institute of Latin American Studies will help provide the legislative technical assistance required to convert the Peace Accords into Guatemalan law.

“Of course, we are extremely pleased to work with the Guatemalans,” said Dr. Edwin Dorn, the new dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs. “This is vitally important work for the Guatemalans. Moreover, this project will serve well the University’s educational mission by involving not only faculty, but graduate students, as researchers and teachers.”

Dorn explained that the University plans to have a blue ribbon task force of experts in public policy, Latin American studies and law to work with an in-country staff who will work directly with the deputies and staff of the Guatemalan Congress. UT graduate students will team with their Guatemalan counterparts to develop legislative studies by Congress. In addition to providing legislative technical assistance, the University will support the efforts of the Congress to develop a staff training program, including a legislative staff exchange with the Texas legislature and work-study opportunities for both UT and Guatemala graduate students.

The overall modernization effort also will include the development of a legislative “outreach” office and a computerized legislative information system. The University of Texas Associate Vice President for International Programs, Dr. Richard Lariviere, who developed the proposal, noted that the goals of both USAID and the Guatemalan Congress are to create a more effective and participatory democracy and to facilitate timely implementation of the Peace Accords. “UT’s support,” said Lariviere, “will be crucial to the achievement of these goals.”

“This project is just one way,” said Flawn, “that UT is making a real and tangible contribution to self determination and democracy in our world.”

For more information contact: Dr. Richard Lariviere, associate vice president for international programs, The University of Texas at Austin, MAI 101, G0400, Austin, Texas 78712. He can be reached by telephone at (512) 471-4511, by fax at (512) 471-7620 or by E-mail at rwl@uts.cc.utexas.edu.

NOTE to EDITORS: Photos of Dr. Edwin Dorn, dean of the LBJ School, are available upon request.