Historic tribute to Human Rights Defenders by Uruguay

December 13, 2012

This blog – understandably – published a lot information critical of Governments. It is with pleasure to report something positive done by a State. On 12 December 2012, the Mission of Uruguay to the Organization of American States (OAS) hosted a public and ceremonial tribute to the Human Rights Defenders who took part in the struggle for human rights in the South American country during the military dictatorship that took place between 1973 and 1985. The public recognition – by name – of human rights defenders even 30 years later sets an example worth following by other countries with similar experience.

“We have some debts. Among them one of a moral order with the citizens of the United States as well as our Latin America. Today we want to express a heartfelt appreciation for the generous, lucid and courageous actions of solidarity in defense of human rights, in our country´s darkest hour,” said the Ambassador of Uruguay to the OAS, Milton Romani, who led the ceremony, held in the Patio Azteca of the hemispheric organization’s main building in Washington, DC.

The event was called “Teacher Elena Quinteros Day,” referring to the Uruguayan teacher who was abducted by the Uruguayan military inside the Embassy of Venezuela in Uruguay in June 1976 and whose arrest led to the severance of diplomatic relations between Montevideo and Caracas. The people honored by the Uruguayan mission to the OAS were: the Reverend Joe Eldridge, former Director of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and who lead the campaign by Julio Castro (first official case of a “disappeared” person presented before the OAS ); Doctor Robert Goldman and Jo Marie Griesgraber, who took part in the first humanitarian mission to Uruguay to confirm the allegations of human rights violations; Louise Popkin, who accompanied the former Uruguayan legislator Zelmar Michelini (murdered in Argentina in 1976) in his complaints and (former leader of the National Party of Uruguay) Wilson Ferreira Aldunate in his complaint to the U.S. Congress; Juan Mendez of Americas Watch (predecessor to Human Rights Watch); and Patricia “Polly” Pittman for their support of the exiles.

The Uruguayan mission to the OAS also paid tribute to the now deceased Julio Ramos, former Ambassador of Venezuela in Uruguay. The current Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the OAS, Roy Chaderton received the distinction on his behalf. In their addresses, Ambassador Chaderton and the rest of the honorees recalled their ties with Uruguay. http://www.flickr.com/photos/oasoea/8268180860/

“The lessons of this chapter are part of our guiding principles. These are not things of the past. They are present as a challenge to all of humanity facing injustice. Our ability to be outraged, to be supportive of one another, because inequalities are committed in the name of noble principles. In the name of peace, freedom and of democracy or revolution, or invoking reasons of state or religious reasons,” said Ambassador Romani. The Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the OAS said the victims’ perspective is “the only one that allows us to remember that “all human beings, born free and equal in dignity and rights and endowed as they are with reason and conscience, should act in a brotherly way toward one other.”

At the end of his speech, the Uruguayan diplomat said: “We have a strong commitment to the strengthening of the Inter-American Human Rights System. We affirm that making the system universal is urgent so that all states be equal before the law, that the autonomy and independence of all the organs are its fortresses.”

The video of the event is available on VIMEO: here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org

One Response to “Historic tribute to Human Rights Defenders by Uruguay”


  1. […] Historic tribute to Human Rights Defenders by Uruguay (thoolen.wordpress.com) […]


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