The Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard University is the first research institution in the United States devoted to the history and culture of peoples of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over 95 percent of the Africans forcibly imported into the Americas went to Latin America and the Caribbean, two thirds of them to the Spanish and Portuguese colonies. Many Hispanics in the United States are also of African descent. Cultural forms and community practices associated with Africa are conspicuous across the region - indeed, the very existence of Latin America would be unthinkable without them. During the last few decades, Afro-Latin Americans have created numerous civic, cultural, and community organizations to demand recognition, equality and resources, prompting legislative action and the implementation of compensatory policies. The Afro-Latin American Research Institute stimulates and sponsors scholarship on the Afro-Latin American experience and provides a forum where scholars, intellectuals, activists and policy makers engage in exchanges and debates.