UCL Institute of the Americas


The Condor Trials: Transnational Repression and Human Rights in South America

20 March 2024, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

Metal sculpture of earth with arrow though the middle

As part of the UCL Institute of the Americas Public Seminar Series, Dr Francesca Lessa will present her award-winning book on Operation Condor in conversation with Professor Paulo Drinot.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Sudershana Dave – Institute of the Americas


51 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

The book is the result of a 10-year-long project funded amongst others by the European Commission, the British Academy, and the Open Society Foundations. Lessa's book has been published in English, Spanish, and Italian, whilst the French translation is scheduled for publication in September 2024. The book, in its English and Spanish version, has been awarded several prizes, including the prestigious Juan E. Méndez Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America in 2023.

Book Synopsis: Through the voices of survivors and witnesses, human rights activists, judicial actors, journalists, and historians, Francesca Lessa unravels the secrets of transnational repression masterminded by South American dictators between 1969 and 1981. Under Operation Condor, their violent and oppressive regimes kidnapped, tortured, and murdered hundreds of exiles, or forcibly returned them to the countries from which they had fled. South America became a zone of terror for those who were targeted, and of impunity for those who perpetuated the violence. Lessa shows how networks of justice seekers gradually materialized and effectively transcended national borders to achieve justice for the victims of these horrors. Based on extensive fieldwork, archival research, trial ethnography, and over one hundred interviews, The Condor Trials explores South America’s past and present and sheds light on ongoing struggles for justice as its societies come to terms with the unparalleled atrocities of their not-so-distant pasts.               

Francesca Lessa is Associate Professor in International Relations of the Americas at University College London (UCL), where she is affiliated to the UCL - Institute of the Americas. Previously, between 2011 and 2023, she held various roles at the University of Oxford, including Departmental Lecturer in Latin American Studies and Development (2020-2023) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow (2016-2020). Francesca earned a PhD in International Relations at the LSE. 

Speaker(s): Dr Francesca Lessa (UCL); Discussant: Prof Paulo Drinot (UCL) Chair: Dr Nestor Castaneda (UCL)