What we do

Latin America

The context

Latin America is the world’s most unequal region. Disparities in wealth and privilege are interwoven with systemic inequities based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, age, and other factors. When crises arise, women, youth, LGBTQIA+ people, and people of colour are some of the worst affected; yet they are also the least represented in civic and political life. 

Trust in democracy is being undermined by politicians and institutions failing to represent and serve all. This is paving the way for populist leaders who threaten freedoms and rights. Social media platforms are fuelling division. Media narratives and culture are often controlled and defined by elites. And many journalists and others who challenge power face violent aggression.

Our strategic focus

Despite these complex issues, we believe a brighter future for Latin American democracy is possible. Activists and journalists – particularly those from underrepresented groups – are raising their voices and driving change. They are challenging power, defending human rights, changing traditional narratives, producing quality journalism, advocating for freedom of expression, and pushing for better political representation and participation.

We work alongside these groups to help challenge power and ensure they can shape society. We do this across Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico – the region’s largest democracies and countries where we have a track record of impact with civil society and media.

Our current priorities

Driving greater representation in political institutions and policymaking

Women, young people, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and people of colour are among those who face structural barriers to accessing power and fully participating in civic and political life. We fund initiatives that put digital tools at the service of grassroots movements and campaigns, and we support members of underrepresented groups to become civic and political leaders. We also support narratives that call out injustice and promote inclusion and empowerment.

Enabling civil society to operate effectively and navigate threats

For human rights defenders, activists, and journalists, Latin American countries are among the most dangerous in the world. Aggression against those who challenge power is increasing. For example, Colombia has the highest number of killings of civil society leaders and activists, while journalists in Mexico can face threats and violence every day. We provide tools and facilitate security training to increase the resilience of those challenging power. We also advocate for protection and justice on behalf of those who are threatened and attacked.

Extending the reach and impact of independent journalism

In Latin America, media ownership is concentrated in the hands of just a few elite groups. We support digital media outlets committed to holding power to account and amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups. We aim to make sure they can grow their reach and impact, while strengthening their long-term financial independence and sustainability.

Protecting freedom of speech while countering disinformation and hate speech

Social media platforms lack transparency. When moderating content, they often disregard considerations about local context.  This amplifies harmful narratives, extremist views, and the spread of misinformation and disinformation. In response, we document digital harms. We fund and participate in campaigns to raise awareness about platforms’ damaging practices. And we advocate for better content moderation policies. In particular, we support regulation that protects freedom of expression while holding digital media platforms to account for what is published via their platforms and channels.


Growing grassroots involvement in politics

In Brazil, Luminate partners with Update Institute, an organisation that works to increase citizens’ involvement and representation in politics with a focus on women, people of colour, LGBTQIA+ people, and youth. It provides leaders in those communities with the tools and skills they need to engage citizens, while creating a space for them to exchange experiences and learn from one another.

Protecting human rights online

Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social is a Brazilian organisation fighting for freedom of expression, for a democratic media, and for a free, open, and inclusive internet. It has been a leading voice against the concentration of media ownership in both traditional and digital platforms. Luminate partners with Intervozes to help advance a human-rights-centred approach to regulating the digital environment. Early in 2022, the organisation was instrumental in ensuring that a Brazilian government bill seeking to regulate disinformation on social media was amended to protect freedom of expression and to ensure greater transparency from tech companies.

Fighting against state violence and oppression

A non-profit organisation based in Colombia, Temblores ONG works to fight exclusion, violence, and discrimination, and to promote the rights of people who the legal system has historically ignored. Police violence is a particular problem in the country, and it has a disproportionate impact on women, youth, LGBTQIA+ people, and people of colour. Luminate partners with Temblores to counter police violence and its effects. For example, during a wave of political demonstrations in 2021, Temblores ONG provided legal support to more than 200 protestors who were victims of police action. The organisation has also led strategic litigation efforts to regulate the use of force during protests. It is now also advocating for structural reform of the Colombian National Police.

Investing in innovative approaches to investigative reporting

This Colombian independent media organisation is dedicated to investigative and data journalism. It aims to hold those in power to account, especially by uncovering power abuses, corruption, and human rights violations. It also works to help citizens make informed political decisions. With Luminate’s support, Cuestión Pública has experimented with new ways of telling stories, while increasing its reach and impact. For example, for the 2022 elections, it created ‘Game of Votes’, a series to uncover the links between rich families and the political campaigns of those running for office.