fbpx skip to Main Content

Remembering Rosa Nelly Santos

The Fund for Global Human Rights mourns the passing of Honduran activist Rosa Nelly Santos, co-founder of long-time grantee COFAMIPRO and a close friend and ally of the Fund.

The Fund for Global Human Rights mourns the passing of Honduran activist Rosa Nelly Santos, co-founder of long-time Fund grantee COFAMIPRO. We were honored to work with her for more than a decade, and offer our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, and allies. 

Rosa Nelly was an indomitable force for truth and justice in Honduras. As a founder of COFAMIPRO—the Committee of Families of Disappeared Migrants of El Progreso—she advocated fiercely for the rights of people on the move and provided care and support to families who had lost a loved one on their migration journey. 

Rosa Nelly knew firsthand the pain of losing contact with a family member. Her nephew, pressured to join a local gang in Honduras, fled north to Mexico, where a hurricane drove him off track. For years, his family had no knowledge of his whereabouts. 

Stirred to action, Rosa Nelly worked with the mothers and grandmothers of disappeared migrants to organize demonstrations in their town of El Progreso. They carried portraits of their missing loved ones through the town square and mobilized on the steps of government buildings in Tegucigalpa. Eventually, the foreign ministry agreed to hear their cases. 

In 2000, Rosa Nelly helped organize COFAMIPRO’s first caravan of family members of the disappeared. The annual procession retraces the migration route from Honduras to Mexico. Along the 4,000-kilometer journey, the activists search for the missing, build a regional network of advocates, and demand respect for the human rights of people on the move. 

In 2010, Rosa Nelly learned joyously that her nephew was alive and well in Mexico. But she continued to fight tirelessly at the local, regional, and international level for other families—and for the right to move freely. 

“Migration is not illegal,” she once said. “If our people are leaving, it is because they are hungry.” 

Ricardo González Bernal, director of the Fund’s Latin America program, remembers Rosa Nelly as an inspiring activist and a champion for the families of disappeared migrants: 

“Rosa Nelly’s activism was admirable, and her voice was fundamental for the regional movement of families searching for their loved ones. Her work and commitment are a legacy that will continue to inspire us all.” 

Rest in power, Rosa Nelly Santos (1956–2024).