WOLA joins with the family and friends of Sally O’Neill in expressing our sadness at the tragic death of Sally, and her colleagues Ana Paula Hernández, Daniel Tuc, and Ana Velásquez, when their car went off the road in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, on Sunday April 7.
Sally has been a member of WOLA’s board of directors since 2015 and has been a longtime friend and ally. We cannot express enough how much we appreciate and have benefitted from Sally’s support and her wisdom.
Sally had a deep and abiding commitment to human rights and social justice in Latin America, and a special commitment to the people of Honduras, where she lived for many years. She was at the same time deeply Irish, as anyone who knew her could attest. Her directness, her warmth, her sense of humor, and her commitment were features that everyone who knew her will recall.
Sally came to Central America in the late 1970s, and spent 37 years representing Trocaire, the Irish Catholic aid agency. She knew and worked with Monsenor Romero in El Salvador; she was one of the early investigators of the El Mozote massacre and worked on human rights issues in Honduras and throughout the region. Sally coordinated work to support humanitarian aid for Central America refugees, to support reconstruction efforts in Honduras and elsewhere after Hurricane Mitch, and to support Central American civil society groups in their advocacy for human rights, social justice, and equitable development. Her ability to develop trusting, respectful relations with partners on the ground, while staying in touch with official actors, was unique, and tremendously valuable.
Sally’s legacy will endure, in Honduras, and internationally.
WOLA Board Chair Steve Bennett said, “Sally was an inspiration, and her loss leaves a tremendous void for all of those who worked with her. I am profoundly grateful for having had the opportunity to get to know her.”
WOLA President Matt Clausen added, “Sally was a true global citizen, able to advocate effectively with everyone she touched, from local champions to world leaders, and she did so with incredible conviction and a smile. It was an honor to have her on the WOLA Board of Directors.”
We extend our deepest sympathy to her family, friends, and colleagues.
Sally O’Neill, presente!
See WOLA’s statement on WOLA colleague and dear friend Ana Paula Hernández here.
See the Fund for Global Human Rights statement here.