Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli is the leading Colombia human rights advocate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Ms. Sánchez is an expert on internally displaced persons, refugees and human rights, and her work has shed light on the situation of Colombia’s more than five million internally displaced persons—as well as help expose the links between Colombia’s government and drug-funded paramilitaries.
Far Worse than Watergate, co-authored by Ms. Sánchez, documents the widespread abuse of power by Colombia’s presidential intelligence agency, DAS. She has worked with a coalition to shift U.S. funds for Colombia from military assistance to economic assistance.
She has worked for greater recognition of Afro-Colombian and indigenous community rights and advocated placing conditions on U.S. assistance to protect these rights. Ms. Sánchez is frequently called upon by universities and other institutions to speak on internally displaced persons and Colombian issues. In November 2011, she received AFRODES’s human rights award for her work on Afro-Colombians. In 2012, she spent a sabbatical as a guest researcher with with the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF), where she wrote "Stopping Irreparable Harm: Acting on Colombia's Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Communities Protection Crisis." The Washington, D.C. Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs honored Ms. Sanchez in recognition of her work on behalf of Afro-Latino communities in February, 2014.
Prior to joining WOLA in 2006, Ms. Sánchez worked for the protection of human rights organizations and peace communities in Colombia with Peace Brigades International. From 1999-2004, she was Senior Research Analyst at the Brookings Institution-Johns Hopkins/SAIS Project on Internal Displacement, supporting the work of the Representative of the U.N. Secretary General on Internally Displaced Persons, Francis M. Deng. In this position, she advocated for the rights of internally displaced persons in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the South Caucasus. She also founded and ran the SAIS Refugee Forum.
Ms. Sánchez has worked on human rights issues at various organizations, including the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR), American Red Cross, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. She also served as a volunteer in camps for Guatemalan refugees in Mexico and for persons displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Originally from Argentina, Ms. Sánchez’ family was displaced during that country’s civil war, fled to Europe, and subsequently moved to the United States.
Ms. Sánchez holds a Masters’ Degree in International Law and International Economics from Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a BA in Environmental Science and Dance from Columbia University’s Barnard College.