Thor Halvorssen is a name that has become synonymous with the fight for human rights. As the president of the Human Rights Foundation, he has been front and center in fights for basic human rights all around the world.
Born Thor Leonardo Halvorssen Mendoz, Halvorssen is of Venezuelan heritage. Halvorssen was surrounded by volatile and unjust events throughout his life. When he was just a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, his father was investigating the Medellin Cartel on suspicion of money laundering and bank fraud when he was suddenly arrested. He was stuck in prison where he was beaten and tortured and even had threats of being murdered. The unjust action lasted 74 days in a Caracas jail where he was held on trumped up charges, the real reason was because the cartel was not to be messed with. He gained his freedom with help from Amnesty International, the group organized protests with other international organizations and eventually Halvorssen Sr. was found innocent of all charges.
Nearly a decade after Thor’s father was wrongfully imprisoned, his mother suffered a terrible blow. During a peaceful protest of the Venezuelan recall referendum in 2004, Hilda Mendoza Denham, Thor’s mother, was shot and wounded. Photos and video of the Venezuelan government supporters firing at demonstrators was circulated around swiftly, Thor himself even headlined an article in “The Wall Street Journal” where he recounted all the details.
These unsettling and disturbing events led Thor to become the man he is today. He witnessed the unjust actions of countries around the world first hand through his parents and decided that he would not stand for these acts to continue. Today, he travels around the world fighting for the side of good and against unjust and corrupt governments. His specialized areas of expertise include human trafficking, dictatorships, threats to democracy, and slavery. When he isn’t actively fighting for what is right, he spreads his message through articles, films, and even speeches at prestigious places including Harvard Law School and United Nations Association in New York.