WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
20 Sep 2018 | Press Release

WOLA 2018 Human Rights Awards Recognizes Pioneering Leaders of the Human Rights Movement and Anti-Corruption Efforts

Washington, DC—Tonight, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the Americas, presented its prestigious human rights awards. The recipients of the WOLA 2018 Human Rights Awards are:

  • Iván Velásquez Gómez, Commissioner, International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG): For his courageous leadership and commitment as head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a unique UN-backed agency working with Guatemalans to investigate and dismantle entrenched criminal networks.
  • Joe Eldridge and Maria Otero: For their pioneering contributions to human rights in the Americas and their lifelong commitment to supporting the human rights community. Eldridge led WOLA through its early years as the organization’s Executive Director, and has spent more than forty years working as a leading advocate and educator on international human rights and humanitarian issues. Otero has championed the cause of human rights, gender equality, and inclusive economic growth worldwide through her work with Accion International and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and as the State Department’s first Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.
  • Thelma Aldana, former Attorney General of Guatemala: For her achievements against corruption during her time as attorney general, including her efforts to combat violence against women and the strengthening of the Attorney General’s Office.

“With the awards that we are giving tonight, we stand with all the Guatemalans who have made the fight against corruption and impunity their own, who have made it their mission to defend the rule of law, justice, and the hope of a better Guatemala,” said WOLA President Matt Clausen during his remarks. “We also honored two people who, as individuals and as a couple, connect us to our founding—Joe Eldridge and Maria Otero. Tonight is a time to celebrate their great gifts to us all, and to the human rights movement.”

Every year, WOLA honors organizations or individuals who have worked tirelessly to promote human rights, democracy, and justice in Latin America. WOLA awardees are organizations or individuals who exemplify a commitment to WOLA’s vision for the future, where human rights and social justice are the foundation for public policy.

Previous honorees include U.S. Congressman James P. McGovern (2007), former president of Chile Michelle Bachelet (2010), actor Gael García Bernal (2011), investigative journalism organization El Faro (2012), Mexican journalist Marcela Turati (2014), and Casa Alianza de Honduras (2016).