Berenice Celeyta is the director of NOMADESC (Association for Social Research and Action), a human rights organization that works to educate, defend and build social alternatives in south western Colombia.
In her more than 20 years as a human rights defender, Ms. Celeyta has worked with many different communities and organizations, particularly with indigenous peoples, afro-Colombian communities and the labour movement. In the labour movement, she has played important roles with the national mining union, SINTRAMINERCOL, investigating human rights abuses and massive displacements related to mining concessions and foreign corporations. She has also worked with the Cali public utilities union, SINTRAEMCALI, in the fight against the privatization of public utilities.
Berenice Celeyta was recognized for her outstanding work in 1988 with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Sadly, she has also been the target of death threats and harassment. In 2001 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) requested the Colombian government to provide precautionary measures on her behalf. Ms. Celeyta credits national and international solidarity for allowing her to remain in Colombia and continue her work despite the serious ongoing threats.