Jorge de Paz was born in Guatemala City in1948. Since his days of high school he was interested in doing something to change the injustice and inequality in his country. He participated in student demonstrations and protests in the streets of Guatemala City and came face to face with the repressive forces of his government. During his young adulthood, he was witness to more and more human right violations and abuses from military governments that ran the country as a huge military base, without any accountability and with full impunity. In the 1980's during some of the most corrupt governments in his country, and during a period when Amnesty International declared Guatemala to have the worst human rights abuses in the world, he joined other civilians and militia members to stop the regime with hopes of starting the road to democracy. As a result of this effort, he was kidnapped for 22 days and tortured by the Presidential Guard. He is probably the only Guatemalan that still has a sentence by the "Tribunales de Fuero Especial".
Jorge was a political prisoner for more than 6 months. After he was released from prison due to pressure from Amnesty International and other groups, he started working again to gain freedom for his fellow citizens. At that time, the level of atrocities in Guatemala had reached the point that working to create a chapter of Amnesty International was considered a threat to the government and Jorge was thus labelled a "communist". He was once again under surveillance by military forces who were listening to his phone conversations and following his every step. Jorge was forced several times into exile into neighbouring countries for his personal safety, but he was convinced that someone had to keep working for democracy and a better life for every Guatemalan. By the end of the 1980s he was driven to permanent exile when his family was also put under surveillance. Jorge understood full well that the army killed women and children if they get on their way.
Even after taking refuge in Canada in 1989, Jorge did not stop working for a better Guatemala, initiating numerous international campaigns. Amongst them, Jorge walked from Mexico City to Guatemala City (2200 km) to promote awareness of the responsibilities of the peace treaty that was being signed in 1996. Other campaigns were towards human rights, multiculturalism and equality. Jorge has been a speaker at many universities in Canada, the United States, and Mexico and many organizations have recognized his work. He is also the author of two books that depict part of his ordeal being kidnapped, tortured, and imprisoned for his fight against injustice.
JORGE DE PAZ
CRUSADER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS