Honorees Recognized for Courage and Commitment to Human Rights in Central America
Washington, DC—Today, WOLA (the Washington Office on Latin America) is presenting its prestigious Human Rights Awards for 2016 to two recipients who have shown unwavering dedication to advancing human rights in the Americas. WOLA will honor Bill and Paula Clapp, the founders of the Seattle International Foundation, for their visionary and catalytic commitment to human rights and economic development in Central America; and Casa Alianza in Honduras, for their critical and courageous work to protect and empower children and adolescents.
“With this year’s award, we’re recognizing people who have dedicated their lives and their resources to creating a better future in Central America. Their work spans the spectrum of social change, from protecting children to encouraging better public policies,” said WOLA’s Executive Director Joy Olson.
At a time when more Central Americans are fleeing their home countries, WOLA’s 2016 Human Rights Awards focus on the urgent need to address the root causes of migration from the region—namely the high levels of violence, poverty, corruption, and impunity that plague Central America—as well as the need to expand access to protection for migrants who could qualify for asylum in Mexico and the United States.
“When Paula and I first traveled to Central America over 20 years ago, we decided we couldn’t be indifferent to the suffering we saw, the pain of our close neighbors,” said Bill Clapp on receiving WOLA’s award. “The problems facing the region require a movement of people, organizations, and governments to come up with creative and innovative solutions.”
“Because of the lack of adequate social and economic policies, Honduras has become a machine of suffering, fear, death, and migration,” said José Guadalupe Ruelas, the national director of Casa Alianza in Honduras. “Children facing this fear are fleeing. Rather than chasing the American dream, they are fleeing from the Honduran nightmare.”
In recognizing Casa Alianza, WOLA is also commending the courage of Ruelas and his staff, who work selflessly and often times at the expense of their personal security.
Past award honorees include Colombian human rights organization Justicia y Paz, Senate aide Tim Rieser, former Guatemalan Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, Sen. Tom Harkin, Rep. George Miller, Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, Executive Director of the Myrna Mack Foundation Helen Mack, and the Salvadoran online newspaper El Faro.