Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards

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2014 Letelier-Moffitt Awardees Robin Reineke, the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders, and Juan E. Méndez

2014 Letelier-Moffitt Awardees Robin Reineke of the Colibrí Center for Human Rights (far left), the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders, and Juan E. Méndez (center)

On September 21, 1976, agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet detonated a car bomb that killed IPS colleagues Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean diplomat and director of the Institute’s Transnational Institute, and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, an IPS development associate, in Washington, DC. Each year in October, the Institute for Policy Studies hosts the annual human rights award in the names of Letelier and Moffitt to honor these fallen colleagues while celebrating new heroes of the human rights movement from the United States and the Americas.


In 1973, ten years after the Institute for Policy Studies opened its doors with the belief that progressive thought, advocacy, and action can build a better society, Chile’s democratically elected government was overthrown by a military coup. These two histories became inextricably linked on September 21, 1976, when agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet detonated a car bomb that killed former Chilean diplomat and director of the Institute’s Transnational Institute, Orlando Letelier, and IPS development associate Ronni Karpen Moffitt in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his work as director of IPS’s international program, which stressed the relationship between economic rights and political freedom, Letelier had become one of the most outspoken critics of Pinochet. Moffitt ran a “Music Carryout” program to make musical instruments accessible to all, and her fundraising work demonstrated that we will not further democracy and equity in this country unless we stand with those seeking justice abroad.

Following these assassinations, IPS established the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards to honor their fallen colleagues and recognize individuals and groups in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas most dedicated to the struggle for human rights.

Excerpt from “30 Years: Families Struggle for Justice”


A short tribute to the families of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, detailing measures they took to ultimately bring Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to trial. Chilean diplomat Letelier and Moffitt were killed in a car bombing on September 21, 1976 on Embassy row in Washington, DC. Until 9/11, it was the most infamous act of international terrorism ever to take place in our nation’s capital. Letelier and Moffitt were colleagues at the Institute for Policy Studies, where Letelier had become one of the most outspoken critics of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Moffitt was a 25-year-old fundraiser who ran a “Music Carryout” that made musical instruments accessible to all. A massive FBI investigation traced the crime to the highest levels of Pinochet’s regime.

Past Awardees

Robin Reineke of the Colibrí Center for Human Rights
The Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders
Juan E. Méndez (Special Recognition Award)

As part of its 50th Anniversary Celebration, IPS honored all of its past Letelier-Moffitt awardees.

City Life / Vida Urbana
The Chilean Students Movement (Confederación de Estudiantes Chilenos)

Wisconsin Progressive Movement
Bethlehem, The Migrant’s Shelter (Mexico)

National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Honduras Human Rights Platform
Guatemalan Police Archives (Special Recognition Award)

Domestic Workers United
La Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica en El Salvador

Asociación Pro-Derechos Humanos (Peru)
Indian Workers Congress

Senator Gustavo Petro (Colombia)
Appeal for Redress
DC Vote (Special Recognition Award)

Maher Arar and Center for Constitutional Rights
Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign

Judge Juan Guzmán
Barrios Unidos

Seymour Hersh
Military Families Speak Out

Nancy Sanchez Mendez
CASA de Maryland
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Special Recognition Award)

Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini (Guatemala)
Jobs with Justice
Naúl Ojeda (Special Recognition Award, posthumously)

25th Anniversary
All prior recipients honored

Oscar Olivera, Coordinator in Defense of Water and Life (Bolivia)
November Coalition

Juan Garces
Kensington Welfare Rights Union

Rose Sanders
Coordinacion Colombia-Europa

The Rev. Dr. Mac Charles Jones (Special Recognition Award, posthumously)
Sin Fronteras Organizing Project
Alianza Civica

Pharis Harvey (Special Recognition Award)
Asian Immigrant Women Advocates
Leo Valladares

Jennifer Harbury (Special Recognition Award)
Rose Johnson, Georgia Project Director of the Center for Democratic Renewal
Haitian Human Rights Platform

Harry Belafonte (Special Recognition Award)
Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras
CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador)

Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia and Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human
Rights Center in Chiapas, Mexico
Marian Kramer and the National Welfare Rights Organization

Evans Paul, Mayor of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
Sam Buffone and Michael Tigar, lawyers for the Letelier-Moffitt Case
Saul Landau (Special Recognition Award)

Jorge Gomez Lizarazo, President, Regional Committee for the Defense
of Human Rights, Barrancabermeja, Colombia
La Mujer Obrera, El Paso, Texas

The National Human Rights Coordinating Committee of Peru
Richard Trumka, President, United Mine Workers Union of America
Father Jim Felts and Proyecto de Cristo Rey (Special Recognition Award)

The Union of Indigenous Nations of Brazil
The National Labor Committee in Support of Democracy and
Human Rights in El Salvador
Robert Scherrer (Special Recognition Award)

Radio Soleil (Haiti)
Charles L. Clements, M.D.

Bishop Mario Melanio Medina (Paraguay)
Washington Office on Latin America

The Vicariate of Solidarity (Chile)
Pete Seeger

The Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM) of Guatemala
The Free South Africa Movement
Frances Arbour (Special Recognition Award)

Dr. Ramon Custodio, President, Committee for Human Rights in Honduras
The Sanctuary Movement
Reverend Charles Harper (Special Recognition Award)

Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) of Argentina
Father J. Bryan Hehir, U.S. Catholic Conference

Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns of Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Infant Formula Action Coalition

Jacobo Timerman
The Congregation of Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic

The Legal Aid Office of the Archdiocese of San Salvador
Reverend William Wipfler, National Council of Churches

The Association of Relatives of Disappeared People, Chile
Alfred “Skip” Robinson, United League of Mississippi

Samuel Rubin
Reverend Benjamin Chavis, Jr.