Cablegate: Bolivian Nomination: The 2010 Secretary's Award For


DE RUEHLP #1642/01 3342125
R 302125Z NOV 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 016553

1. Per REFTEL, Embassy La Paz nominates Dr. Marina Flores
Villena for the 2010 Secretary's Award for International Women of
Courage. Through her work as a lawyer and public prosecutor,
Marina has dedicated herself professionally and personally to
positively impacting the lives of hundreds of Bolivian women and
children victims of domestic violence and sexual exploitation. She
is aware of the nomination and is willing to accept the award if

2. Nominee: Dr. Marina Flores Villena

Job Title/Association: Prosecutor, Santa Cruz District
Prosecutor's Office

Date of Birth: March 23, 1960

Country of Birth: Bolivia

Country of Citizenship: Bolivia

Address: Barrio Guaracachi Calle 9, Santa Cruz

Telephone: (591) 766 81245 or (591) 726 84076

Passport #: 1795067

Language: Spanish

3. Marina was born in a small village near Tarija, Bolivia.
She grew up with her five brothers until the age of nine when her
mother and father died, leaving the six kids alone. The two eldest
brothers tried to raise the younger children but their lack of
financial resources forced them to send Marina to live with
relatives. Marina finished elementary school in a rural village
where there was no possibility for a high school education. She
begged her aunt to send her to the city of Tarija to continue her
education. The aunt agreed but she couldn't pay for Marina's
schooling. As a result, at the age of 13, Marina moved to Tarija
to work as a house maid by day and attend school in the evenings.
She finished her high school education and moved to Santa Cruz, a
larger city, in search of more opportunities. There she worked as
a house maid and entered a university where she received a partial
scholarship. She later found a job as an assistant in a dentist's
office where she worked until she finished her studies in law at
University Gabriel Rene Moreno. She told Embassy La Paz she now
remembers those difficult days with joy because she achieved what
was most import in her life - an education - something that seemed
almost impossible for women from rural areas in that era.

4. Marina began her legal career working in the Santa Cruz
Prefect's Office for the Defense of Children, assisting women and
children victims of domestic violence and sexual exploitation. Due
to the office's lack of resources, Marina had to work extra hard to
rescue victims and to find them better living environments - often
donating her spare time and personal resources to make a real
difference in their lives. Despite the challenges, she told
Embassy La Paz she deeply appreciated being able to assist women
and children in need. A few years later she began working for
Defense for Children International, an NGO where she performed
similar work advocating for the needs of child abuse victims. She
later joined the Santa Cruz District Prosecutor's Office where she
helped the Bolivian government implement a new criminal code
procedure respecting human rights. Her accomplishments led her to
be elected as a prosecutor, where her record continues to stand out
as one of the most successful in obtaining convictions in cases of
rape and sexual exploitation. One of Marina's most high-profile
cases involved the conviction of a Bolivian couple that trafficked
six girls to Santa Cruz for purposes of sexual exploitation. Only
four such convictions related to trafficking have ever been
achieved in Bolivia.

5. In a country were the judicial branch is considered one of
the most corrupt public institutions, Marina is known by her
colleagues and the police as the "incorruptible prosecutor." A
single mother with a limited salary as a public official, she is
widely respected for her honesty and courage. Marina works closely
with Casa Jacinta, a Catholic shelter that provides refuge for
women and children victims of domestic violence and others in need.

The shelter's manager told Embassy La Paz, "Marina has never lost a
case. She has helped many victims put their offender in jail - in
a country with a long history of impunity in these kinds of cases."
Marina has also worked with the Bolivian police advising them on
best practices for dealing with victims of sexual abuse, leading
the effort to create a special unit for the police to assist
victims of sexual abuse. Marina has also taken a vocal role in
fighting corruption within her own institution, occasionally
receiving threats to her personal safety.

6. In researching this nomination, Embassy La Paz learned of
numerous victims of abuse and exploitation that are today attending
school or university because of Marina's professional and personal
commitment. One young woman, Noelia, a rape victim at the age of
ten who is now 19, told us, "I received from Marina the love and
affection that I never had from my family. When I met Marina I
felt I was no longer alone in life."

7. Embassy La Paz appreciates the Department's consideration
of this nomination. Officer responsible for the nomination: E.J.
Monster, Cultural Affairs Officer,, (591 2) 216
8422, IVG 547-8863.

© Scoop Media

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