Luz de las Nieves Ayress Moreno

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Luz de las Nieves Ayress Moreno was born in Chile and feels like a citizen of the world. She grew up in a politically active family. As a student she was a leader in the resistance movement against the dictatorship of General Pinochet in 1973. For four years during the dictatorship she was a political prisoner and prisoner of war, during which time she was kept imprisoned in secret torture centers and concentration camps. When she was expelled from her homeland, she lived in Europe, Africa, and in different countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, always active in solidarity work for Chile, Latin America, and Human Rights. She has lived with her partner and daughter in Mott Haven since the 1980s. In 1987, she was a founding member, along with her partner, Victor Toro, of the organization “Vamos a al Peña”. This center sought to involve the South Bronx community in the solutions to their problems such as hunger, housing, health, education, recreation, culture, social justice, emigration, and the environment. Ayress has received several distinctions for her inexhaustible efforts for human rights, social justice, the rights of indigenous peoples, equal rights for women and the struggle of immigrants. Her life and struggle have served as inspiration for several plays, documentaries, academic theses, interviews, reports, and poetry. Her story is part of the book “Lo Que Vi” (What I Saw) by Univision journalist Jorge Ramos, as well as the documentary on human rights “International Criminal Court” that was featured at the Lincoln Center festival and other festivals, receiving awards. As a History Keeper, she will be preparing her extensive archive for preservation with the Bronx County Historical Society and sharing her knowledge via oral histories.