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During the conference on the day of remembrance of the victims of totalitarianism, the plaques of the first edition of the Graciela Fernández Meijide Award for the defense of human rights were presented in the presence of the former secretary of the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) and two of the members of the jury, Norma Morandini and Rubén Chababo.
The purpose of the award is to recognize activism in the defense of human rights by individuals, groups or organizations in countries with authoritarian contexts or that have experienced serious setbacks in recent years in terms of civil and political liberties, in both cases according to reports by prestigious international organizations. The call for the first edition of this award was addressed to individuals, organizations and groups from the following countries in Central America and the Caribbean: Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua.
The Jury, which also included Vicente Palermo, decided to award the prize to GAM - Fundación Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo de Guatemala, a non-governmental organization founded by relatives of victims of forced disappearance during the internal armed conflict. The jury not only considered the valuable and courageous trajectory of the Mutual Support Group, but also the adversity in which GAM carries out its activities at the present time, and hopes that this public recognition will strengthen its mission by making it visible on the international scene.
In the activist category, the jury decided that this award should go to Librado Ricardo Linares García, from Cuba, promoter of the Cuban Movement of Reflection, who since 2011 has gathered and organized groups of activists who resist the authoritarianism of the regime established on the island in 1959, carrying out campaigns to denounce the serious abuses and violence that the repressive apparatus systematically commits against civil society. The jury valued Linares García's civic virtues, his commitment to democratic values and principles and the example he embodies in his sustained struggle for the enforcement of human rights on the island of Cuba.
As Cuba's one-party dictatorship prevents Librado Linares from leaving the country, in violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the activist and former political prisoner sent a video message that was shown during the award ceremony.
Mario Polanco and Alain Espinosa with Pamela Malewicz, Undersecretary of Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism of the City of Buenos Aires.