The WOLA Human Rights Awards honor Maya Achi and Quikchi women, David Morales and Representative Joaquin Castro

Washington, DC—On September 21, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) will honor and celebrate the courage of activists and communities who tirelessly fight for justice by presenting them with their prestigious Human Rights Award.

García Valle and Demecia Yat of Máxima Emilia will receive the award on behalf of the Maya Achi women of Rabinal and the Maya Quechi women of Sepur Zarco in Guatemala, who after decades have ensured that those responsible for sexual violence against them receive justice. ; Salvadoran lawyer David Morales will receive the award for his continued fight for justice and human rights in El Salvador, particularly for the victims of the El Mozot massacre; And US Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX) will be honored for his unwavering commitment to protecting human rights in Latin America.

“In recent years we have seen a dramatic decline in human rights, governments have advanced new versions of the dangerous and authoritarian approaches seen in the past, and factors such as climate change threaten our future and the survival of the planet,” says Carolina Jimenez Sandoval, President of WOLA. “However, what has not changed is the sheer determination of the human rights movement to fight for human rights and justice. Our honorees are prime examples of bravery, courage and perseverance. We are proud to have them as allies.”

During Guatemala’s internal armed conflict in the early 1980s, the Maya Achi women of Rabinal and the Maya Cuicchi women of Sepur Zarco showed exemplary determination to bring to justice the paramilitaries and army responsible for sexual violence against them. These women fought for decades to get prosecutors to press charges and courts to hear their cases, facing countless obstacles. Today she is an inspiration to millions of women and girls around the world seeking justice for wartime rape and other forms of gender-based violence.

“We got justice, but the road has been long and there is still a long way to go. We want to see more justice for all women. We will continue our fight until we get all justice, says García Valle of Máxima Emilia.

“It was very important for me to open the way for other women, to provide space and power for other women to fight for justice. We are very grateful for this award and are able to enjoy it while we can”, says Demecia Yat.

Salvadoran human rights attorney Cristosal David Morales is the lead attorney representing victims of the El Mozote massacre, where members of the US-trained force killed dozens of people during El Salvador’s civil war in the early 1980s. His uphill battle for justice continues today. , as he fights back against attacks from Vice President Bukele, who is leading a campaign to freeze human rights.

“It is an honor for me to receive the WOLA Human Rights Award. I receive it as a personal acknowledgment but also in recognition of the work of everyone at Cristosal who has supported the families of the victims of the El Mozot massacre in their long search for justice,” said David Morales. “I am very proud to receive this award from WOLA, a An organization that has supported the democracy-building process in America for decades and has such a great history of unity on behalf of Central America.”

WOLA Rep. Also honors Joaquin Castro (D – TX) for his unwavering commitment to human rights at the US-Mexico border and in US policy toward Latin America. Castro has worked to promote policies that protect vulnerable migrants at the border and regionally, and has consistently raised human rights concerns in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Brazil, and elsewhere in Latin America.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized among the dedicated and inspiring individuals recognized at this year’s WOLA Human Rights Awards and Benefit Gala,” Rep. Joaquin Castro said. “Over the years I have worked closely with foreign and domestic leaders to strengthen democracy, promote human rights, and create inclusive economic opportunity in America. As we continue to advance human rights, I look forward to working with my fellow honorees to amplify the voices of marginalized communities and local organizations and push for equality and justice for all.”

Attendees at the 2022 WOLA Human Rights Awards and Benefit Gala included members of Congress, legislators and other prominent leaders in the nonprofit, media and business sectors.

Master of Ceremonies for the 2022 ceremony will be composer and performer Gina Chavez. Award presenters include Jose Luis Sanz, award-winning writer and investigative reporter for El Faro; Maria Otero, former Undersecretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights; and Representative Jamie Raskin.

Since 2006, WOLA’s annual Human Rights Awards have recognized organizations or individuals who exemplify commitment to WOLA’s vision of a future where human rights and social justice are the foundation of public policy. Previous honorees include the Ethnic Working Group of the Colombian Truth Commission, Mi Sangre Foundation, Fray Matías de Cordova Human Rights Center, Cocuyo Effect, Representative Norma Torres (D-CA), Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, Salvadoran Digital. Newspaper El Faro, former Commissioner of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) Iván Velasquez Gómez and former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet.

More information

Learn more about past honorees.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Phillip Dorr [email protected]

Josephine Solomon: [email protected]

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