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“Straight from my heart.”

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I found that there was not just a handful of men and women in the United States who had a real commitment to human rights and peace in the world, but that the people who are aware of sorrow and injustice are growing, and that they contribute their efforts, as we say in Latin America, their grain of sand, to make our dreams come true.

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by Gloria Florez Schneider Executive Director, MINGA

Washington, DC September 24, 2003

Asociación MINGA is a human rights organization in Bogota, Colombia, that carries out extensive accompaniment and legal aid for victims in warzones.  www.mingaong.com.co

“In November 1998, I first came to the United States, to receive the Robert F. Kennedy prize for human rights, and I have to tell you straight from my heart that to know this country and its people had a profound impact upon me. I had another image, the image of the United States government imposing policies, mostly unjust ones, upon our people. But I found the other face of the United States, the face of hope and solidarity and love, which millions of Americans share.

"I found that there was not just a handful of men and women in the United States who had a real commitment to human rights and peace in the world, but that the people who are aware of sorrow and injustice are growing, and that they contribute their efforts, as we say in Latin America, their grain of sand, to make our dreams come true. I found that with you we can weave infinite, strong ties, that can overcome hate and war. Our efforts, as human rights defenders in Colombia, have continued in part thanks to your work to teach your members of Congress about the need to support peace and human rights, not war. Persistent actions have helped to avoid more deaths, more displacement, more kidnappings and disappearances in Colombia. But also, these actions have helped so that we, human rights defenders, can continue to accompany the victims of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. Without the decisive, timely and fraternal help that you and some members of Congress have given as we have endured threats and attacks, perhaps, at this stage of the war, we would no longer exist.

"Yesterday, a great defender of human rights, my friend and sister, Nancy Sánchez, received the Letelier-Moffitt human rights award [granted by the Institute for Policy Studies] in the Organization of American States building.

"This is a symbol of hope, but also of recognition and protection for those of us in Colombia who work for human rights and peace.  Thanks to life—Gracias a la vida—knowing you are present in this common cause for life, for justice, for peace."

"Quiero decirles del corazón."

por Gloria Florez Schneider, Directora Ejecutiva Asociación MINGA

Washington D.C., 24 de septiembre de 2003

Colombia MINGA es una organización de derechos humanos en Bogotá, Colombia. www.mingaong.com.co

"En noviembre de 1998, vine por primera vez a los Estados Unidos, para recibir el Premio Robert F. Kennedy para los Derechos Humanos, y quiero decirles de corazón que conocer a este pais y su pueblo me produjo un profundo impacto. Tenía otra imagen, la de la imposición de políticas externas del gobierno de los Estados Unidos, en su mayoría injustas, con nuestros pueblos. Pero encontré la otra cara, la de la esperanza, la solidaridad y el amor, que expresan millones de ciudadanos estadounidenses.

"Conocí ademas, que no son sólo un puñado de hombres y mujeres en Estados Unidos los que tienen un compromiso real con los derechos humanos y la paz en el mundo Que aqui, en este pais, la gente sensible al dolor y la injusticia, todos los días crece y coloca un grano de arena para hacer realidad la esperanza.

"Encontré que con ustedes podiamos tejer lazos infinitos y fuertes, para derrotar el odio y la guerra. Nuestros pasos, de defensores de derechos humanos en Colombia, han seguido marcando el camino gracias a su perseverante trabajo para sensibilizar a los Congresistas y Senadores sobre la necesidad de ayuda para la paz y los derechos humanos y no para la guerra. Acciones persistentes que han contribuido a evitar mas muertes, mas desplazamientos, mas secuestros y desapariciones forzadas en Colombia. Pero tambien, a que nosotr@ los defensores y defensoras podamos continuar acompañando a las victimas de las violaciones a los derechos humanos y al derecho humanitario. Sin el apoyo decidido, oportuno y solidario, que han dado ustedes y congresistas de Estados Unidos, ante los ataques y amenazas que sufrimos, tal vez, a estas alturas de la guerra, no existiriamos.

"Ayer, una gran defensora de derechos humanos, amiga y hermana, Nancy Sánchez, recibia el Premio Letelier-Moffit en el edificio de la OEA, como símbolo de esperanza, pero tambien de reconocimiento y protección para todos los que en Colombia trabajamos por los derechos humanos y la paz.

"Gracias a la vida, por saberlos presente en esta causa comun por la Vida, la Justicia y la Paz."