2014 Human Rights Defender Award
Beth Geglia is a PhD student at American University with particular interests in Economic, Ecological, and Feminist Anthropology. She received her B.A. at the University of Wisconsin in Madison with majors in Sociology, International Political Economy and Latin American Studies with a certificate in Global Cultures. Beth’s student activism in the fair trade movement, the anti-war movement, and local labor and immigrant rights organizing solidified her interest in social and economic human rights in relation to neoliberal globalization and various forms of structural violence. Through work with producer cooperatives in Argentina, Mexico, and Guatemala she became convinced of the importance of supporting grassroots movements that are building economic democracy through alternative economies.
Between 2007-2010 Beth worked with Guatemalan communities impacted by global extractive industries and facing potential displacement from their lands, militarization and conflict, and severe environmental contamination. Acting as a liaison between Guatemalan indigenous movements and international human rights organizations, she helped to develop international campaign strategies to defend the right to free, prior, and informed consent for indigenous peoples and to counter the criminalization of human rights defenders. Upon moving back to the U.S. she earned a Certificate in Documentary Arts from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Since then, she has partnered with different organizations to produce videos on domestic workers in DC, women labor organizers in Central America, musicians in post-coup Honduras, the first ever International People’s Health Tribunal on health and the mining industry, and most recently the First Garifuna Hospital of Honduras. This last project, which she co-directed with Canadian journalist Jesse Freeston, tells the story of Garifuna communities’ efforts to organize a free healthcare system on Honduras’ northern coast and defend healthcare as a basic human right. The film is now being used as an educational and organizing tool by various community organizations and universities.