He was in Seoul, South Korea, so Thor Halvorssen’s texts and emails were arriving in America during the wee hours of the night. So were his encrypted Wickr shares. It seems Halvorssen does not keep 9-to-5 hours. He is the president of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), which he also founded in 2005. He is of half Norwegian descent and half Venezuelan and was raised in South America, in Caracas. His ancestry includes heads of state and possible pirates. The Venezuelan King’s government had Halvorssen’s grandfather, Øystein, who was Norwegian, as consul during World War II. It is in Venezuela ports that Øystein advised that all Norway’s merchant vessels be protected after the invasion by Hitler’s German troops.
Thor’s mother is the descendant of Cristóbal Mendoza, who was the first Venezuelan President. She also has some ancestry from “The Liberator”, Simón Bolívar, who was the masterful military and political leader that fought to successfully win Venezuela’s independence from Spain. It should be no wonder that Thor Halvorssen is a staunch believer in the basic rights of all humans as the basis for any good government.
He has very close knowledge of the wrong type of government. His father was persecuted and tortured in prison, in Caracas, after he exposed deep government corruption with the drug cartels of South America. His father was only able to be released after a very intense effort by world aid organizations and world-figure individuals intervened. Later on, at a peaceful anti-Hugo Chávez rally, Thor’s mother was shot, and barely recovered. Several other people were also shot and injured. One person actually died at the hands of the Venezuelan version of the Gestapo. Leopoldo López, Thor’s cousin, is still being held and harmed in a jail in Venezuela.
Thor never lets such challenges get him down. Not in the least. He is upbeat and acts boldly and with great strength to express his love for people and the need for basic human rights for everyone. Thor has also been severely beaten and in 2010 both his camera man and himself were arrested by the Vietnamese government, which has a poor human rights record and policies. They were beaten, but managed to escape after convincing the authorities there that he as becoming a Buddhist. They were able to get video footage of an interview out of the country in the camera man’s butt. It was of an interview with Thich Quang Do, the patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. His church has been condemned and banned by the Vietnamese communist authoritarian government.
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