Witness for Peace: Human Rights and Migration in Honduras

Posted on April 16th, 2019 by

On Wednesday, April 10, and sponsored by the LALACS and Peace Studies programs, Gustavus hosted Rosa Nelly Santos Navarro, the Honduran President and Coordinator of COFAMIPRO, in a presentation and discussion about human rights and migration in Honduras. The Committee of the Families of Disappeared Migrants of El Progreso (COFAMIPRO) is an organization whose mission is to search for the loved ones of Hondurans that disappeared on the migrant trail to the United States, and started in 1999 with the radio program “Sin Fronteras” or “Without Borders”. The organization not only seeks to reunite families with disappeared loved ones, but advocate for legislative reform and spread knowledge regarding the past and current situations of how the United States is involved with Honduras, human rights violations, and patterns of migration from Honduras to the U.S.

In her presentation and answering of student questions, Rosa Nelly shared her personal story in the founding of COFAMIPRO. Her son, like too many of the individuals from Honduras who try to migrate to the United States, disapeared along the migrant trail. It was only after 17 years of searching with COFAMIPRO that Nelly found him in Tijuana, Mexico. The disappearances are far too common and a side effect of the violence and turmoil within Honduras. With little food, medicine, or jobs available, most young people from Honduras, according to Nelly, have no choice but to attempt the migration to the United States, despite the known risks of trafficking, kidnapping, and death. Through her work with COFAMIPRO, Nelly aims to bring light to these dangers and call for both accountability and transparency by the Honduran and United States governments.

The presentation had an abundance of students, professors, and community members alike, and brought an impactful voice of diverse cultural perspective to the Gustavus community. Sophomore, Vanessa Gavilán,  believed that the event was impactful as it “helps some of us relate to her experiences with family, but it also helps other students see a different perspective of an immigrant individual. I believe it helps the Gustavus community because people are able to see a new perspective and the struggles of people from different countries.” First year student, Emily Falk, stated that “learning that [the United States] aid to Honduras has left the country in crisis was disheartening”, however the work of Rosa Nelly and COFAMIPRO in activism for disappeared migrants was inspiring, “because you can see how women everywhere are empowered to make their situation and the lives of others better”. Paige Patterson, a sophomore student as well, found Nelly’s presentation gave “Gustavus students a really real exposure to the events going on in Latin America”, especially considering that “we’re constantly hearing in the news how bad the situation is and how corrupt many Latin American governments are, but this event was able to bring this reality to campus”.

The first-hand account from Nelly brought realism and humanity to what many students have learned about only in lecture or study, and for that the Gustavus community is more culturally knowledgeable, something that should be strived for in our ever complicated and globally interconnected world.

Blog article written by:

Hailey Concepción ‘21
Political Science, LALACS, Peace Studies
LALACS Academic Assistant
Gustie Greeter

Student Senate Academic Affairs Chair




-Check out the handout by Witness for Peace, which includes a history of US intervention in Honduras, resources to learn more, and ways to get involved.

-The following are materials in Spanish by COFAMIPRO:

COFAMIPRO brochure

Booklet-Migrant advice by COFAMIPRO

For more information about Witness for Peace and their activities, visit:



Like them on Facebook:

COFAMIPRO- Facebook page

Witness for Peace- Facebook page

Photo credits- Hailey Concepción and Liz Moldan.



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