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Arturo Aguilar

Executive Director, Seattle International Foundation

Arturo Aguilar is a human rights defender, investigator, and political strategist who has worked for 20 years to strengthen justice and democracy in Latin America. Most recently, he served as senior political officer to Iván Velásquez, commissioner of the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The commission has been a driving force in a series of investigations against top government officials and helped inspire a nationwide protest movement in 2015 that led to the resignation and eventual imprisonment of president Otto Pérez Molina and at least 40 others for public corruption. Prior to his work at CICIG, Aguilar was secretary of strategic and private affairs to Guatemala’s first female attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz. During his time at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the team made strides prosecuting organized crime and saw a significant rise in conviction rates. They also made world history in the prosecution of Efraín Ríos Montt, the first former head of state to be convicted of genocide by a court in his own country. At 18 years old, Aguilar was instrumental to solving the murder of Bishop Juan José Gerardi, one of the first landmark cases against the military in Guatemala’s post-civil war era, as an investigator and later as legal area coordinator in the Archbishop of Guatemala’s Office of Human Rights. Aguilar also served as the coordinator for strategic litigation at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala, where he trained and advised large NGOs representing indigenous peoples on constitutional litigation.