Letter from ALBA: Forging a Community of Human Rights Activists

May 24, 2024
By and

Dear Friends,

As human rights and academic freedom are under threat throughout the world, it was gratifying to hear former winners of the ALBA/Puffin Award speak to each other and to the attentive audience gathered in New York City this past May 4 for this year’s award ceremony. Kate Doyle, the investigative journalist who shared the award in 2012 with the Guatemalan forensic anthropologist Fredy Peccerelli, recalled what it had been like for her to be recognized by ALBA and the Puffin Foundation. Rachael Lorenzo, of Indigenous Women Rising (2023), shared thoughts about tactics and strategy with Ava Mateo, who received this year’s award on behalf of 18by Vote—an organization that is entering what is possibly the most important election campaign since it was founded eight years ago. Before and after the ceremony, all three of the former award winners socialized with representatives from My Brother’s Keeper (2021) and No More Deaths (2020). In March, meanwhile, Proactiva Open Arms (2017) sent the first ship to sail as part of a maritime aid corridor to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, in collaboration with World Central Kitchen. (Operations were temporarily suspended following the death of seven aid workers in an Israeli airstrike in April.)

Fourteen years after its birth, the ALBA/Puffin Award has created a community of committed activists who, each in their own way and against all odds, work ceaselessly to defend basic human rights. As they do so, they honor the antifascist legacy of the Lincoln Brigade. Indeed, if the stories in this issue show anything, it’s that the echoes of the Spanish Civil War continue to resonate today. For Bill Mullen and Jeanelle Hope, who are interviewed here, the struggle in Spain is part of a Black antifascist tradition that continues to fuel resistance today. As Alex Vernon shows, an Oscar-winning documentary about Ukraine is also a tribute to a classic film on the Spanish war. Meanwhile, researchers continue to unearth remains of international volunteers killed by the fascists, or Hollywood-worthy stories of adventure and courage. Speaking of courage, we’re especially proud to feature a moving unpublished memoir by Lincoln vet Vince Lossowski, who after his service in Spain joined the OSS.

ALBA is a small organization, but we manage to stay busy! It’s enormously exciting to see so many of you join our many online events, which you can always revisit on our ALBA YouTube channel. Of course, none of this work would be possible without your generous support. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. As always, you’ll find a donation envelope in this issue; you can also donate online at alba-valb.org/donate.



Peter N. Carroll & Sebastiaan Faber, Editors

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