Maria rejoined Human Rights Watch as senior legal advisor in March 2020, after two-and-a-half years as the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading US-based organization fighting to end the war on drugs.
Previously, Maria held several positions at Human Rights Watch, including as co-director of its US Program, guiding the organization’s work on US national security and criminal justice policy, and as deputy Washington director, working on a broad range of US foreign policy issues, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa during the 2011 Arab uprisings, and in South Asia. Earlier, as senior Americas researcher, she covered Colombia's internal armed conflict and worked on the extradition and trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori.
Maria is the author of the narrative non-fiction book "There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia" (Bold Type Books, Feb. 2018), which won Duke University's 2018 Juan E. Méndez Human Rights Book Award. She clerked on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and holds a law degree from NYU School of Law. A Peruvian-American, Maria did most of college at the Universidad Católica del Perú before graduating from the University of Texas at Austin.
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