Julieta Castellanos

Honduran sociologist

Julieta Castellanos (born 8 January 1954) is a Honduran sociologist. She is the rector of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) since 2009. Castellanos has worked against violence in Honduras, working mostly on drug cartels and police corruption. She worked for reform of the courts and the police. In 2004, Castellanos started the Observatorio de la Violencia (Violence Observatory) at UNAH. The Violence Observatory analyzes crime statistics in Honduras.[1] She was also a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The job of this commission was to find the facts of the 2009 coup that removed President Manuel Zelaya from power.[2]

Julieta Castellanos in 2013.

Life and educationEdit

Castellonos with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Under Secretary Sherman, Mrs. Heinz Kerry, and First Lady Michelle Obama in 2013.

Castellanos was born in San Francisco de Becerra, Olancho on 8 January 1954. Her mother was Rafael Castellanos of Santa Bárbara, and her father was Ernestina Ruiz of Olancho.[3] She grew up in the sugar fields of rural Honduras.[1] In 1968, Castellanos' father gave her a test to be a student at the Normal School for Girls in the city of Tegucigalpa. She entered the school and graduated in 1973 with a teaching degree. In 1974, Castellanos won two scholarships to study social work at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) and social sciences in the College of Teachers. After several years of study, she finished her studies with a master's degree in economics from UNAH and a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Costa Rica.[3]

After she finished her studies, Castellanos became a professor at UNAH in 1978. She was head of the Social Sciences Department and President of the Association of Teachers from 1997 to 2001.[3] Castellanos was also the President of the Association of Professors of the University Center of General Studies (CUEG) in 1986, Coordinator of the Violence Observatory since 2005, consultant to the Arias Foundation for Human Progress and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), and Research Associate of the Centro de Documentatión de Honduras (CEDOH).[3] For 13 years, Castellanos was also the author of a newspaper column.[1]

Head of the National Autonomous University of HondurasEdit

Castellanos was elected to a four-year term as Rector of the National Autonomous University of Honduras in 2009.[4] At the time of her appointment as rector, she was also the Coordinator of the UNAH Violence Observatory and Director of the Instituto Universitario en Democracia Paz y Seguridad (Institute for Democracy, Peace and Security, IUDPAS). IUDPAS was started with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) when Castellanos worked as a consultant for the UNDP.[5] Castellanos took the place of Jorge Abraham Arita, who was removed for incompetence. In a press conference, College Board president Olvin Rodriguez said Castellanos was chosen as rector because she was well-respected by the university community, and also by Honduran society and internationally.[4]

Shortly after Castellanos got the job of rector, President Manuel Zelaya was removed from power in a coup. During a demonstration by University students, the police tired to stop the demonstration. The police pushed Castellanos down when she tried to stop them.[6] During her time as rector, she had disagreements with SITRAUNAH, the union for the University's employees. She also received criticism because she fired 60 employees who protested at the university 2009.[7] Castellanos oversaw the construction of a sports complex,[8] an administrative building, and a university clinic. The university invested L1,500 million in the clinic.[9]

Castellanos' four years as rector ended in April 2013. She remained interim rector.[9] In September 2013, she won an election for another term as head of the university.[10][11]

Work against violence and corruptionEdit

Castellanos was a strong advocate for police reform and against violent crime in Honduras.[12] She pushed for an international commission to oversee a purge of the police. The National Congress of Honduras approved the idea. [1] Castellanos also spoke about gun politics in Honduras. She asked the Honduran armed forces to destroy illegal guns, including AK-47s.[13]

In October 2011, the Honduran national police kidnapped and killed Castellanos' 22-year-old son.[1][14] The incident called attention to the degree of corruption within the Honduran police. Castellanos called for an end to foreign aid for the Honduran police and military, demanding that they "stop feeding the beast."[15]


Castellanos received the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Award on 20 April 2012. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation and the Instituto Hondureño de Cultura Interamericana gave her the award in a ceremony.[16]

In March 2013, Castellanos received the International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. State Department.[17] US Secretary of State John Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama presented the award.[18][19][20][21]

Related pagesEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Hernandez, Javier C. (24 February 2012). "An Academic Turns Grief Into a Crime-Fighting Tool". The New York Times.
  2. "Honduras sets up truth commission". Taipei Times. 6 May 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Nivárrez, Agustín Lagos (10 December 2010). "Julieta Castellanos Ruiz". El Heraldo (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 11 April 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Julieta Castellanos, electa Rectora de la UNAH". Proceso Digital (in Spanish). 24 April 2009.[permanent dead link]
  5. "Honduras contará con centro de investigaciones único en Latinoamérica" (in Spanish). Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  6. "Police quell student protest in Honduras". Eastday. 2009-08-06. Archived from the original on 2013-08-23. Retrieved 2015-03-29.
  7. "Sindicalistas de la UNAH protestan en la Corte". El Heraldo (in Spanish). 21 August 2013.
  8. "UNAH construirá Polideportivo para albergar Juegos Universitarios de 2013". Proceso Digital. 10 February 2011.[permanent dead link]
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Julieta Castellanos asume como rectora interina". El Heraldo (in Spanish). 30 April 2013.
  10. "La rectora tiene ventaja porque ella nombró a miembros de la JDU". La Tribuna (in Spanish). 21 August 2013. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  11. "Julieta Castellanos es reelecta como rectora de la Unah por 4 años". La Prensa. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  12. Salinas, Carlos (1 April 2013). "La madre coraje de Honduras". El Pais (in Spanish).
  13. "No tuvimos reporte de a quién se le dio la recompensa: Julieta Castellanos". El Heraldo (in Spanish). 18 November 2011. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  14. "Conmoción y dolor por muerte de hijo de rectora Julieta Castellanos". Radio Cadena Voces (in Spanish). October 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-08-02. Retrieved 2015-03-29.
  15. Frank, Dana (June 11, 2012). "Honduras: Which Side Is the US On?". The Nation.
  16. "Rector Julieta Castellanos Receives Martin Luther King, Jr. Award". Embassy of the United States Tegucigalpa, Honduras. 20 April 2012. Archived from the original on 25 October 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  17. Demers, Peter (7 March 2013). "Security and Human Rights in Honduras: A Conversation with Julieta Castellanos". Inter-American Dialogue. Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  18. "EEUU entrega el Premio al Valor a Julieta Castellanos". Tiempo. 8 March 2013. Archived from the original on 14 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  19. "2013 International Women of Courage Award Winners".
  20. "2013 International Women of Courage Award Winners - HumanRights.gov is the official United States Government website for international human rights related information". Archived from the original on 2017-01-05. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  21. "2013 International Women of Courage Award Winners - International Women of Courage Celebration".

Other websitesEdit