WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
20 Jul 2011

Gael García Bernal, Ambulante, and CEDECO to Receive WOLA’s 2011 Human Rights Award

Washington, D.C.—WOLA, a leading organization promoting human rights, democracy, and social justice in Latin America and the Caribbean, announced today the recipients of the 2011 WOLA Human Rights Award. This year WOLA will honor:

  • Actor Gael García Bernal for his passionate commitment to the plight of migrants and for giving visibility to the suffering and courage of those who undertake the perilous journey north;
  • Ambulante—the non-profit Mexican organization founded by Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, and Pablo Cruz—for bringing the power of documentary films to places where they are rarely seen and for inspiring people to tell stories that make a difference;
  • CEDECO—a pioneering Costa Rican development organization—for promoting a successful and climate-smart economic model to help small-scale farmers prosper throughout Central America. 

The awards will be given on September 13, 2011 in Washington, D.C. during an awards ceremony and formal gala focusing on the theme of Migration and Development: Stories that Make a Difference.

“The work of this year’s honorees underscores the need to think about the links between migration and development,” said WOLA’s Executive Director, Joy Olson. “Only real desperation could lead someone to leave their home and family to face the risk of crossing Mexico, given the high levels of kidnappings, extortions, murders, the possibility of dying along the border in the U.S. desert, and the good chance of being deported after arriving in the U.S. But people who cannot make a living in their own land will be forced to seek opportunity elsewhere,” Olson added.

According to the Mexican National Human Rights Commission 11,333 migrants in transit were kidnapped in Mexico between April and September 2010. In August 2010, the bodies of 72 migrants were found massacred in a ranch in the Mexican northern state of Tamaulipas.

“Our honorees this year offer stories of pain and of hope. As we work to expose the horrific abuses of migrants on their journey, we continue to be inspired by stories of courage. We recognize those who are breaking new ground by giving people a chance to tell their own stories in their own communities and across borders. And we honor those who are developing prospects for wiser, sustainable alternatives to leaving home,” Olson said.

Gael García Bernal said the following: “I feel very honored to receive this award with Ambulante. Beyond the close bond that I have with the festival and with all of those involved in it, we are united by something more than the desire to spread documentaries throughout Mexico and the world: The urgent desire to give a voice and face to the stories around us, of our travels, of our nightmares, and of our dreams. Migration is a cross-cutting issue, where the human, political, social, and economic drama of the world can be seen in a person's legitimate journey in search of a better future for himself or his children. First and foremost, I would like to dedicate the WOLA award to all who help and defend migrants.  It is through their eyes that the stories of migrants come to light.  I am eternally grateful to them as a migrant myself.”

Francisco Fonseca, CEDECO’s executive director, said the following: “More people are going hungry due to market, political, and economic conditions that make unviable the permanence of small-scale farmers. Furthermore, climate change affects them more severely than any other,” said Fonseca, adding that, “Investing in sustainable agriculture, different policies, and mechanisms to engage farmers to markets can reverse this trend, giving people the right not to migrate and produce food to meet local and external needs. In giving the human rights award to CEDECO, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Ambulante, WOLA is giving visibility to these important issues.”

Press credential guidelines and a list of activities in Washington around the award will be issued at a later date. To subscribe to our press list please email Kristel Mucino at press@wola.org. Follow us on Twitter @ WOLA_org.

About WOLA and its award:

Since 1974, WOLA promotes human rights, democracy, and social justice by working with partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to shape policies in the United States and abroad.

WOLA’s human rights award was created in 2006 with the hope of inspiring future generations to work toward the advancement of human rights and social justice in Latin America. The award is offered annually to organizations and/or individuals whose work demonstrates a commitment to the advancement of human rights in Latin America. Past award winners include Former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern, the Association of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES), the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center from Mexico, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, among others.

Kristel Mucino, WOLA’s Communications Director
+(202) 797-2171, press@wola.org