Human rights strategies in the context of changing political opportunity structures : the case of two transnational networks in El Salvador




Ramirez, Allison Marie

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This report explores the evolution of advocacy strategies amongst human rights organizations in El Salvador over the past two decades, focusing in particular on domestic activists’ perceived need to use transnational venues for activism in order to achieve positive domestic results. The Salvadoran political transition in 2009 is used to examine how changing political opportunity structures at the domestic level affect human rights organizations’ transnational strategies. Extensive in-country fieldwork in 2011 involved eighteen in-depth interviews with activists, academics, and government officials, four months of participant observation with one of the human rights organizations of interest, and primary document content analysis. The results of this research allow for two human rights networks to be considered: the historical human rights movement seeking justice and reparations for human rights violations committed during the Salvadoran civil war, and the contemporary migrants’ rights movement seeking both protection and reparations for Salvadoran migrants and their families. The findings suggest that despite significant openness at the domestic level, activists perceive transnational strategies as an important complement to domestic strategies that allow them to achieve positive concrete change and protect against future reversals in policy.




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