Pulitzer Center grantee Ana Arevalo delivered the keynote address at the ILS Conference on Defending Human Rights hosted by the Florida Bar International Law Section Standing Committee on Public International Law, Human Rights, and Global Justice at the Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables on April 19, 2019. The conference featured panel discussions on human rights issues facing Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, to "examine the commonality of the human experience throughout." The panelists included human rights attorneys, professors, and lecturers at the center of emerging international human rights issues.
"We spend time speaking to the disadvantaged, and we become witnesses of hopelessness. What we ultimately want is to bring awareness to certain issues," grantee Arevalo said of the work of photojournalists.
Arevalo spoke about visiting pre-trial detention centers in Venezuela and photographing detained women for her Pulitzer Center-supported project. In these detention centers, thousands of women waiting for trial are separated from their families and children, some for many years. In Venezuela, the "law against hate," which passed in January 2018, forbids any protest against the government and has put numerous women behind bars.
Arevalo spoke about gaining the trust of the women she photographed in detention centers and the need for Venezuelan people to empathize with these women. Explaining the life-threatening health conditions the pregnant women in the detention centers were exposed to, Arevalo said, "These women did not know if they were going to be released ... It enraged me that so many Venezuelans were completely disconnected from this reality."
To watch Arevalo's complete remarks, please see the video above.