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Our Work

Village Rights International was founded by director Benjamin Goodman after he studied and witnessed firsthand the legal issues faced by indigenous communities in Latin America.

As a child of missionaries, Benjamin also spent his childhood in close contact with the Kuna community of Morti in the Darien rainforests of Panama. As an adult, Benjamin studied indigenous rights and international development issues in pursuit of a Master of Arts in Development and a J.D. from the University of Florida. He successfully completed these degrees in May of 2012.

Benjamin's Master's Thesis was based on ethnographic field research in Panama. The research focused on legal and institutional issues in the case of a USAID funded community-based forest management development project in the Kuna indigenous community of Morti. While pursuing his JD, Benjamin focused on international law and indigenous rights issues.

Rooted in this unique experience, Benjamin founded VRI in order to encourage indigenous communities to "take the law into their own hands" - in a good way. VRI works with indigenous communities to assist them in harnessing the power of the law in order to achieve their own vision for conservation and development.

The Vision and Mission

Village Rights International is a Florida based non-profit organization that supports legal education and advocacy for rural indigenous communities in Latin America. VRI currently works to address the legal needs of the indigenous Kuna community of Morti in the Republic of Panama as it deals with the challenges of conservation and development.

The vision of VRI is to put indigenous rights into action! We work towards equipping indigenous individuals and communities to be able to meet the legal challenges of development and conservation.