The Institute for Policy Studies Global Economy Program is deeply shocked and saddened at the news late last night of the death of Ana Paula Hernández and Sally O’Neill who worked for the Fund for Global Human Rights, their driver Daniel Tuc, well known to human rights organizations in Guatemala, and Ana Velásquez, a member of the Consejo Wuxhtaj in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. All four died tragically on Sunday evening when their car went off a foggy cliff along a dangerous stretch of road in the mountains of Huehuetenango.
IPS’s Global Economy Program would like to extend its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the four in Guatemala, Mexico, Ireland, and the U.S., as well as the numerous individuals, organizations and networks fighting for social and environmental justice in Mexico and throughout Mesoamerica who are mourning this terrible loss. Similarly, we extend our condolences to all of those organizations and activists in Canada, the U.S., Europe and elsewhere who are feeling great pain at this news.
We had the particular fortune to know and love Ana Paula, a long-time, trusted friend and ally to many involved in the defense of territory and against the injustices of the mining model in Mexico and Mesoamerica. A loving and cheerful person, Ana Paula dedicated herself to support movement building that would strengthen the fight of Indigenous peoples and campesino communities to defend their water, land and territory against the threat and destructive impacts of mega-projects such as industrial gold mines and large hydroelectric dams. She was doing just this when she was in Guatemala over these past few days with Sally, Daniel, Ana and others. The Mexican Network of Mining Affected People (REMA) and the Mesoamerican Network against the Extractive Mining Model (M4) are just a couple of the networks, representative of the sort of important coalition and movement building in Latin America that could consistently count on her support. Similarly, she understood the importance of joining in common cause between organizations and networks in the Global South with environmental justice groups in the north, and helped to cultivate such relationships.
While we did not have the opportunity to get to know Sally that well, she was a highly regarded human rights activist from Ireland. She had a long, thirty-seven-year career supporting communities in Latin America through the Catholic bishop’s development agency in Ireland, Trócaire, before beginning to consult for the Fund for Global Human Rights. She leaves behind her husband and three children.
Similarly, Daniel and Ana’s deaths are being mourned by Indigenous and human rights organizations in Guatemala to whom we extend our condolences and hugs of solidarity and sadness.
Today we are reminded about how important it is to appreciate and care for each other every day as part of long and challenging struggles for the health, dignity and self- determination of communities and peoples.