Norma Cruz, a life of struggle against violence

By Alberto Ramírez E./Pensa Libre
December 15, 2009
Automatic translation from original Spanish article

Norma Cruz, president of Fundación Sobrevivientes, was nominated as a candidate for Prensa Libre's Person of the Year 2009, for her struggle for female victims of violence, the recovery of children abducted or illegally handed over for adoption, and because she is a tireless fighter against impunity.

She said that awards like the People of the Year nomination for her work strengthen her work on behalf of unprotected women.

Cruz is a woman of small stature, thin, physically she looks weak, but she has a look and an attitude that expresses determination and energy.

Cruz was known in Spain earlier this year upon the  introduction of the documentary "Un cambio en la mirada", which denounces the situation of impunity in Guatemala and a staggering one thousand 200 women and girls murdered in the previous two years .

In this work, Cruz highlights why she became an activist for the rights of females. In her own home she suffered the horror of knowing that her daughter had been sexually abused.

For that crusade for women's rights and the defense of victims of violence, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, awarded the International Prize for Women of Courage to Cruz, during a ceremony held in Washington last March.

On that occasion she was honored as an outstanding women in the Americas, along with seven other activists from other regions. 11 days ago the news paper El Pais in Spain, chose to Cruz as Latin American person of the year.

Cruz's strength grew this year, and Fundación Sobrevivientes asked the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to investigate four criminal judges favor lawyers and doctors accused of stealing children and dealing in illegal adoptions, last March.

Fasting for justice

Cruz through the Fundación Sobrevivientes, achieved in March this year the Ministry of Government offered a reward of Q100 thousand for information about Angelina Hernandez Rodriguez, who was stolen in 2006, when he was 2 years old.

Two months later, the girl was located in the U.S. and found that she was given up for adoption to an American couple in an abnormal process involving lawyers and judges.

Given the slowness of the authorities in the case of Angelina and three others, Cruz, accompanied by the mothers of the little victims, held a hunger strike outside the Supreme Court.

After 10 days of fasting she was able to initiate court proceedings for annulment of such adoptions, which have not yet been resolved.

Last April, the foundation, which has become plaintiffs, secured a conviction and eight years' imprisonment for four women and a man, responsible for the theft of a girl in Area 2, given up for an illegal adoption.

Questions to lawyers

In April, the group around Cruz presented a list of lawyers who performed illegal adoptions, to make sure they were excluded for nomination of candidates for judges of the Supreme Court and Appeals.

She also accompanied the families of two young people involved in the case against Deputy Paul Gomez Cristiani, who is accused of corruption of minors.

Cruz and the families of the children reported being victims of pressure from lawyers of the legislature to desist from lawsuits.

She also advised Aura Suruy, mother of Wendy, 12 years, Diana, 8, and Heidi, 7, killed last May in San Lucas Sacatepequez.

Cruz and Suruy faced death threats from the three accused of the deed, but still prevented from leaving prison, since the accused claimed that they changed the offense. The case is still in process.

Cruz says her greatest satisfaction is that those responsible for stealing children or sexually abusing minors pay their misdeeds in prison

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