About the 2012 WOLA Human Rights Awards Recipients
Helen Mack is President of the Myrna Mack Foundation in Guatemala and has a long history fighting for human rights and rule of law in the country. When her sister, Myrna, was brutally assassinated by members of the military in 1990, Helen embarked on a quest for justice that would lead her to be one of the most influential human rights defenders and leading voices on citizen security issues in the region. She founded the Myrna Mack Foundation in 1993 and worked with partner organizations to start a new wave of human rights work in the country, pushing for greater transparency and accountability in justice and security institutions.In 1997, she was named head of the Commission for Justice Strengthening, a multi-sectorial body that aimed to strengthen civilian oversight of Guatemala’s security forces. She helped co-found the Pro-Justice Movement in 1999 to promote greater transparency in electing justice officials, and in 2009, she helped form the Guatemala Forum, a network of over 50 organizations supporting the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). In 2011, she served as the head of the Presidential Commission on Police Reform in Guatemala and championed reforms to strengthen, modernize, and professionalize the Guatemalan National Civilian Police (PNC).
El Faro was founded in 1998 by Carlos Dada and Jorge Simán with a small group of journalists committed to reporting on subjects typically considered taboo, hoping to strengthen democracy and accountability in the country. Since then, El Faro has moved to the forefront of Latin American news organizations investigating organized crime, violence, and political corruption, with over 100,000 readers weekly. El Faro has showcased the ability of independent journalism to effectively monitor those in power, exposing organized criminal groups and powerful political interests, and becoming a major force for democracy and human rights in the country.
The PASSOS Education and Training Center was founded in 1997 to help young people escape the cycle of violence that pervades low income neighborhoods in San Salvador. Influenced by the teachings of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero, its dedicated staff takes programs into the most marginalized areas of the city. At its 12 centers throughout San Salvador, PASSOS carries out programs for violence prevention and social outreach. Throughout El Salvador, there are church groups, government workers, and others who are eager to work with youth in communities with high levels of drug addiction, gang activity, and violence. Often though, they do not know how turn their commitment into effective community action. That’s where PASSOS comes in. Its staff provides the professional training necessary so that people committed to working with at-risk and underprivileged youth can be effective when engaging with adolescents in marginalized communities.
About the WOLA Human Rights Awards
With its annual Human Rights Awards, WOLA honors organizations or individuals who have worked tirelessly to promote human rights, democracy, and social justice in Latin America. Our awardees are organizations or individuals who exemplify a commitment to WOLA's vision of the future, where human rights and social justice are the foundation for public policy.
Gael García Bernal
Ambulante Film Festival
CEDECO (Education Corporation for Costa Rican Development)
AFRODES: Association of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians
Michelle Bachelet, Former President of Chile
Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of Mexico
U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd
The University of Central America (UCA), El Salvador
U.S. Congressman James P. McGovern
Mercedes Doretti, Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team
Fredy Peccerelli, Forensic Anthropology Team of Guatemala