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Class of 2022
Global Studies
Educational Studies
Film and Representation Studies
Ángeles Zúñiga is a candid human rights advocate from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. She graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2022, with a major in Global Studies and a double minor in Film and Education. She is also a UWC ISAK Japan alumna, Semester at Sea alumna, and Davis Scholar. During...
Summer 2022

While working at the Human Rights Foundation for the Legal & Policy teams, I had the opportunity to rethink authoritarian regimes and closed societies through the lens of human rights violations, inefficient electoral systems, inexistent freedom of dissent and decayed journalistic freedom.

Overall at HRF, we strive to protect human rights where it is most needed. The Legal and Policy teams are in charge of writing policy briefs, reports, blogposts, op-eds as well as submitting legal petitions and memoranda on behalf of political prisoners. HRF is also responsible for organizing the Oslo Freedom Forum and I was glad to assist on some tasks related to that important event as well. 

Some highlights of my internship include the writing and editing of a blogpost piece about the threats to environmental activism in Latin America, more specifically Bolviia, Venezuela and Honduras. The region is often deemed the most dangerous for environmental defenders. Through this writing I had the opportunity to learn more about two issues I am deeply passionate about; human rights and climate justice, and how they are tightly linked to one another. I was able to use HRF's own resources such as staff members who are knowledgeable about this topic, as well as reating new connections between HRF and activists we had not worked with before. 

Another highlight was working with the political regime project, the methodology used by HRF to classify different countries into three categories; full authoritarian regimes, competitive authoritarian regimes and democracies. Using the framework proposed by scholars Levitsky & Way, I conducted research to reasses Ecuador's status as a competitive authoritarian regime following their 2021 elections. As a product of my own research, HRF was able to re-classify Ecuador, which moved status from a competitive authoritarian regime to a democracy, as per our methodology. Through this exercise I became much more aware of the very foundation of HRF and our focus on closed societies. I was able to further understand the intricacies of authoritarianism and what truly makes a country authoritarian. I was glad that my work at HRF had an impact on Ecuador's classification and thus impact the work that we do on that country.