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“Understanding the Colombian Crisis: Reflections from a Life of Human Rights Work” is the title of the first address by Hector Hernan Mondragon Baez, this year’s fellow of the Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights at Colby College.
Mondragon will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 5, in the Robins Room of the Roberts Building on Colby’s campus in Waterville. His talk will be in English and he will answer questions with the help of a translator.
For more than 30 years Mondragon has worked to secure the environmental, economic and cultural survival of indigenous groups, peasants and the urban poor in Colombia. An economist, Mondragon has endured torture and repeated death threats for his efforts on behalf of Colombia’s dispossessed people. He helped the Nukak, a newly contacted indigenous group, secure one of the largest areas of protected reserve lands in Colombia and, more recently, worked with other tribes to fight hydroelectric and oil development projects threatening their ancestral lands.
Mondragon is the third Oak human rights fellow. The fellowship was established in 1998 to allow a front-line human-rights worker to take a one-semester sabbatical for research, writing and teaching as a scholar-in-residence at Colby. Previous fellows were anti-child-labor crusader Zafaryab Ahmed of Pakistan and Didier Kamundu Batundi, a refugee from the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo.