Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up for Kroc School News and Events

Join nearly 10,000 Changemakers when you subscribe to the Kroc School's monthly e-newsletters.

Subscribe

A Win for Grassroots Organizing: TBI Partner Receives Human Rights Award

Thursday, December 20, 2018TOPICS: Awards and HonorsFaculty and StaffFieldworkResearchUS-Mexico BorderHuman Rights and Security

Fernando Ocegueda (left), with President Melba Olvera of the State Human Rights Commission and Fernando OrtigozaFernando Ocegueda (left), with President Melba Olvera of the State Human Rights Commission and Fernando Ortigoza
begin quoteThey visit government offices, morgues, and mass grave sites; they file endless paperwork and chase down leads; and they do media interviews and public events to support each other’s cases.

Fernando Ocegueda Flores, founder and director of the Asociación Unidos para los Desaparecidos [United for the Disappeared] received Baja California’s state human rights prize for 2018. The selection committee cited his tenacity, tirelessness, and willingness to pursue any and every lead in search of truth and justice for Baja California’s forcibly disappeared. Like almost all of the members of his organization, Fernando got involved because of the disappearance of his own son in 2007, to whom he dedicated the prize. It was personal and moving. The Trans-Border Institute (TBI) partnered with Fernando and Unidos para los Desaparecidos last year. We’re helping to document individual disappearance cases in long-form testimonials, assisting in the investigation of cases that involve the border, and building a community of support through public events and fundraising campaigns.

The recognition that the prize represents from the State Human Rights Commission and elected officials at all levels in Tijuana and Baja California was a great victory for grassroots human rights organizing. Unidos para los Desaparecidos runs almost completely on volunteer labor and the goodwill of the loved ones of the disappeared. They visit government offices, morgues, and mass grave sites; they file endless paperwork and chase down leads; and they do media interviews and public events to support each other’s cases. They fit this work into nights, weekends, holidays, and whenever else they can get away from work for a minute. When TBI helped to organize a fundraiser on their behalf in October, they didn’t even have a bank account in which to receive the funds. Under the leadership of Fernando Ocegueda and General Secretary Fernando Ortigoza, Unidos para los Desaparecidos is moving towards greater institutionalization. In August 2018, they inaugurated the first official memorial to the disappeared in Baja California. They’ve got a bank account now, and are filing for tax-exempt status, and they’re in active discussions with private foundations.

For our part, TBI will continue to partner with Unidos para los Desaparecidos. We have dozens of further interviews to conduct. Our students are working to craft public, shareable versions of select testimonials and perform them in public events in order to raise consciousness and build support, and we will continue to host fundraisers and partner in grant applications with our colleagues ion Tijuana.

What’s next?

The TBI team plans a series of follow-up public events for early next year — stay tuned!  Meanwhile our research continues apace, and many of our students will be helping to take new testimonies, transcribe existing interviews, and fact-check the material for publication.

How can I get involved?

Support our work! Come to one of our events in Tijuana, and check out our academic programs — Kroc School students are directly involved in all of the work we do. We are also happy to share and replicate our research and methodologies in other places and for other audiences. Please contact transborder@sandiego.edu for more information. And we depend upon grants and donations to make this work possible. Please consider donating to TBI.

Contact:

Ev Meade
emeade@sandiego.edu
619 260-4161

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies

Phone

Contact Us

Phone: (619) 260-7919
Fax: (619) 849-8123
krocschool@sandiego.edu

Map

Visit Campus

KIPJ Room 121
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110