P.O. Box 433 Allenspark, CO 80510


The National Human Rights Prize Don Sergio Méndez Arceo is a collective effort to protect, support, and raise the visibility of important human rights work being done in Mexico. This year the individual prize was awarded to Blanca Isabel Martínez Bustos, for her work with families of disappeared people, children, and indigenous populations seeking self-determination. The collective award was awarded to Colectivo de Saneamiento y Restauración de la Malintzi Tlacualpan, for their work protecting their ancestral lands from illegal logging, pests, and discriminatory development programs.

2024 Individual Winner
Blanca Isabel Martínez Bustos
Blanca Isabel Martínez Bustos is the winner of the 2024 Fundación Don Sergio Méndez Arceo individual Human Rights Award. With determination and consistency, Blanca has been a beacon of hope for those who fight for their rights. Her commitment to the defense of Human Rights is reflected in every action, in every alliance forged, and in every voice she raises on behalf of the most vulnerable. From the fight against violence to accompanying communities toward their autonomy, her work is an example of resistance and perseverance. Let’s continue together, building a more just and humane world!
2024 Individual Candidates
2024 Group Winner
Colectivo de Saneamiento y Restauración de la Malintzi Tlalcuapan
Colectivo de Saneamiento y Restauración de la Malintzi Tlalcuapan is the winner of the Don Sergio Méndez Arceo 2024 group prize. Facing adversity with unity and resistance: the communities of Matlalcueyetl fight to protect their ancestral forest. Despite government indifference and repression, their commitment to the land and justice remains unwavering. Join their cause and support the defense of our natural resources and the rights of indigenous peoples.
2024 Group Candidates Biographies
2024 Individual Candidates Biographies
Jose Ugalde Mejía is spokesperson for the organization Desaparecidos Justicia AC in Querétaro. He is dedicated to accompanying families of disappeared people, as well as people in vulnerable social situations such as young people, single mothers, migrants, and homeless people. He fights for justice and peace through popular education, grassroots work, the defense of human rights and advocacy on public policies.
René Jaques Mey presides over the Mexican and international René Mey Foundation, which is recognized by the OAS and receives special consultative status before the UN. More than 500 instructors, 65 thousand volunteers in 68 countries collaborate with it, and it partners with 100 Civil Associations. He collaborated with local authorities to reduce violence in Metepec, State of Mexico and worked on the Transitional Justice proposal for the defense of indigenous peoples in Mexico.
Dr José Arenas Galvez legally defends people who do not have the resources to hire a lawyer. The majority of the population he serves are groups of merchants, elderly adults and people belonging to indigenous communities. He defends vulnerable people from improper charges for services, illegal price increases and other arbitrariness by officials.
Victor Hugo Pachecho Gallardo organizes fairs, events and educational sessions to promote human rights. He created a workshop for change agents that includes a training module on human rights as well as a review of the connections between human rights and the axes of the UN 2030 Agenda. Despite a kidnapping, an apparent intimidation due to his advocacy work, he continues to promote human rights.
Maria Guadalupe de Jesus fights for human rights by exposing and sharing knowledge through conferences, workshops and exhibitions on the topic of human rights. She promotes knowledge that promotes human rights in health, environment, education, equality, justice, and peacebuilding. She hosts a digital TV program called “Peace Construction.” She also appeals for changes in public policies.
Fray Julián Cruzalta Aguirre legally represents victims of human rights violations in national litigation, in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He provides advice and support to victims of human rights violations, victims of clerical pedophilia and to relatives of victims or survivors of feminicide. He also participates in lobbying within the Legislative Branch.
Rosario Aida Cázares Campos is dedicated to supporting displaced people, people with different abilities and unjustly imprisoned women. She contributed to achieving the release of Mrs. Ma. Luisa Villanueva Marquez who was unjustly imprisoned for 25 years. She also achieved the approval of pension support for widows from the SAPAC.
Norma Macarena Cedillo is director of the AC POR LOS AUSENTES DE TAMAULIPAS. She ended up defending the rights of missing people and their families since the forced disappearance of her daughter. In collaboration with other families who were victims of forced disappearance, she achieved federal jurisdiction to investigate organized crime and to be able to search for her loved ones throughout the national territory.
José Luis Loera Aguilar has been working in humanitarian and peacebuilding programs for three decades. He is now President of the Board of Directors of the Casa Refugiados Program, an organization that he founded. The Refugee House program has served more than 17,947 people. He has also co-founded several shelters for displaced people.
Ana Luz Ramos Soto is dedicated to protecting vulnerable or marginalized populations. She participated in the creation of the Comprehensive Development Agency at the UABJO, to serve municipalities that are governed by uses and customs in addition to addressing local problems. In the state of Oaxaca he defends the preservation of native culture, gender equality, and the fight against underage marriages.
Claudia Leticia Jiménez Santiago promotes the recognition of vicarious violence as one of the types of violence in the General Law of Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence. She achieved the recognition and incorporation of Vicarious Violence into the Federal Civil Code and the Federal Penal Code, recognized in the Official Gazette of the Federation. She generates dissemination materials and gives various conferences with the aim of safeguarding and respecting the rights of mothers, girls, boys and adolescents.
Carlos Arturo Martínez Negrete is a journalist, broadcaster and researcher on human rights issues. One of his most important struggles has been to publicize cases of plagiarism and theft of drawings and designs by Mexican artisans by million-dollar brands, such as Hermes, Carolina Herrera, Nestlé, Mango, Office Depot, La European, among others. He managed the creation of the first Civil Association of Draftsmen of Tenango de Doria to protect drawings and designs by artists, as well as generate a registry and research regarding the preservation and protection of heritage.
Maria Herrera Madgaleno, known as Doña Mary, is a political and moral leader of the movement of relatives of missing persons. She is Founding President and member of the Council and Operational Team of Relatives in Search María Herrera. Her work was recognized by Pope Francis, and on TIME's list as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Doña Mary began her work as a defender following the disappearance of her children. Since then, she and her family have been subjected to threats, attempted disappearances, and victims of forced internal displacement, directly derived from their search efforts.
Ma Alejandra Díaz Castro became a human rights defender in 2020, when her brother disappeared in Guanajuato. Alejandra contributes to the work of other search engines, leaning towards promoting projects for girls, boys and adolescents. Some of these initiatives were the Drawing, Card Making, Mural, Theater, Storytelling and Photography Workshops for Girls, Boys and Adolescents who grow up in families with absences in the municipalities of León and San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato.
Leonardo Reyes Meza has been a human rights defender since he was young. He was a bilingual teacher in the indigenous communities of Michoacán. Over time he began to defend the rights of indigenous peoples, normalistas, missing persons, political prisoners, as well as defending union rights. He was also a politician, a founding member of the PRD. Threatened by his activism with the National Front of the Struggle for Socialism, he became a political prisoner.
Julio Mata Montiel has dedicated himself to the protection and defense of human rights for more than 30 years. For three decades he has suffered persecution and harassment for his social work. He currently collaborates as executive secretary of AFADEM, supporting indigenous, peasant, student struggles, the release of prisoners, repatriation, exiles and those missing for political reasons. He has been an adjuvant in 50 complaints in the Atoyac community of Álvarez, Guerrero, before the PGR for Forced Disappearance against the Mexican Army.
Pedro Regalado of Uc Be works with the Múuch’Xíinbal Assembly (we walk together) which is made up of people belonging to 25 Mayan communities. Since 2018, they have consolidated themselves as a front defending the territory and the native communities of that region. The leaders of the Múuch’Xíinbal Assembly face welfare government programs that buy will, corrupt community leaders and erode communality. In their advocacy work, they are in charge of collecting, filtering, editing, synthesizing and translating information in national and local media into the Mayan language.
2024 Group Candidates Descriptions
Lithium A.C. defends indigenous communities in Oaxaca, obtaining protection to protect rivers and public services. Her work includes ensuring interpreters and linguistic rights for indigenous people in judicial processes, as well as promoting the Prior Consultation Law for indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in Oaxaca. Their work addresses environmental pollution and human rights, highlighting their impact on the legal and cultural protection of communities.
Squadron 421 of the Zapatista Delegation 177 has fought tirelessly for indigenous rights throughout Mexico, challenging politicians and mafias who seek to control their lands. Her activism has resonated internationally, highlighting the struggles and challenges of indigenous communities in Latin America. During their visit to Berlin, they openly denounced companies involved in the destruction of Latin American people and the environment, leaving a significant mark on global consciousness.
The Committee of Mothers and Fathers of the 43 has fought nationally and internationally for justice and memory of their missing children, challenging impunity in Mexico. Despite intimidation and vulnerabilities, such as the surveillance of the PEGASUS system, they continue the search. They have highlighted contradictions in government reports and collaborated with other victims and organizations. A decade after the tragedy, they keep the case of the 43 missing students alive in the public consciousness.
The Vicente Guerrero Group has supported indigenous peasant communities since 1979, offering training in organic agriculture and protecting native seeds. His fight in the Supreme Court defends the right of indigenous peoples to their seeds against the threats of GMOs. Its ruling could affect national access to native seeds and prevent the devastating social, economic and environmental impacts of agricultural chemicals.
The Paso del Norte A.C. Human Rights Center has legally represented victims of enforced disappearance and migrants since 2001, also advocating for torture survivors and vulnerable groups. They have documented cases of torture in Ciudad Juárez and led search and transparency initiatives. However, his work has faced harassment from state and federal authorities. In 2021, they established a living memory space in collaboration with Families United for Truth and Justice, marking a decade of collaboration.
Paso de Esperanza AC has been providing support to migrants in Nuevo León for a decade, promoting inclusion and combating xenophobia and racism. They offer legal advice, representation in cases of human rights violations, and promote dialogue on migration and refuge. Their actions have influenced more inclusive policies and human rights-based approaches by local government. They continue to strengthen care networks for people on the move.
Since 2019, the group Buscadoras de Nuevo León AC has supported families in the search for their missing loved ones, offering comprehensive support to more than 100 families. They have carried out numerous search brigades, live search activities and file reviews with authorities. Their work has resulted in the first record of a child with a missing father and contributed to the design of public policies for the dignified delivery of bodies. His commitment was recognized with the Medal of Civic Merit and an Honorable Mention for Good Citizen Practices.
The National Search Brigade has operated in several states, including Veracruz, Sinaloa, Guerrero and Morelos, since 2016. They have mobilized hundreds of people and resources to search for missing persons, organizing seven national brigades and four regional meetings. They work with forensic anthropology specialists to identify remains and manage DNA samples, offering a safe environment for affected families. Their work seeks to prevent disappearances, promote peace and rebuild the social fabric.