With more than 16 years of experience in the judicial system of the United States, Mercedes Alonzo is a brilliant Honduran specialized in legislative issues.
She have a Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut (University of Connecticut School of Law), and is currently Assistant Attorney General of the State of Connecticut, USA; also ventured into this 2018 as a writer of the book “Adventure in Pico Bonito”, whose royalties are intended for the conservation of wildlife in Honduras. Learn about her career in the following interview she gave to the blog Ruta5.
R5: Thanks for this interview; how long ago did you emigrate from Honduras and why?
I’ve lived in the U.S. since 1976, when my mother was appointed Consul General of Honduras to Michigan.
R5: Where do you live, and what do you do for living?
I live in the state of Connecticut, where I work as an Assistant Attorney General with the Office of the Connecticut Attorney General.
R5: Before working in his current position, what were his first jobs in the US?
After graduating from law school, I got a job working with the Judicial branch for a few months because of my legislative expertise; my role was to help them review legislative developments and their impact upon the Judiciary. A few months later, I was hired to work with the Law Revision Commission, which is part of the state legislature, to help them research legislative issues and develop legislation. A couple of years, later, I was hired by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights, where I worked as an attorney investigating allegations of discriminatory employment practices.
R5: How to become a prosecutor and what functions do you have?
One day, I got a call from then-Attorney General, and current U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, asking if I wanted to join his office. I was incredibly honored that he thought highly enough of me and my work to offer me the position and gladly accepted. When I started out, I was assigned to work in the Environment Department, where I worked as a litigation attorney.
Currently, I am assigned to the Consumer Protection Department of our office, where one of my primary responsibilities is to mediate complaints against companies throughout the country. In the process, I’ve been able to help thousands of state consumers recover millions of dollars. I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m certain that if you name any company in the country, I have probably dealt with them.
R5: Have you learned a lot during this time?
Of course. From time to time my office sends me to conferences for training. In May and December of this year, I attended Technology Forums focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Many of the country’s leading authorities gave us updates on the latest developments and what we can expect in 5-10 years. AI is a fascinating field that will have huge ramifications on all of us in the coming years, it will be one of the great industrial revolutions, and it will touch all of our lives. I attended another conference in Colorado recently, and from time to time I also like to attend International Bar Association conferences, as that way I learn from some of the leading legal minds at the international level and stay informed on up and coming trends.
R5: What have been your greatest achievements in this nation?
It is an incredible honor for me to work as an Assistant Attorney General, and on a personal level, it is especially meaningful to me because I think that I am the first Honduran-born lawyer to work in this capacity in the U.S. It’s important for me because I don’t consider it an accomplishment just for myself, but also for all Hondurans as it demonstrates that we make valuable, positive contributions in many fields whether it be in the law, medicine, science, arts wherever we may be in the world.
I am also very grateful for so many opportunities to become politically involved in Connecticut. In 2016, I had the privilege of being elected as a Bernie Sanders Delegate representing Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District at the Presidential Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Once again, I believe I am the only Honduran to have been selected as a national delegate to a presidential convention. I don’t think anyone kept track of these things until the internet came along.
R5: At this time of your life, what are your goals?
On a personal level, I am really excited with the release my very first illustrated children’s book, “Adventure in Pico Bonito”! It’s a story about siblings Olguita and Oscarito as they trek through the Honduran rainforest. Along the way they encounter splendid creatures such as the aracari, aguties, coaties, jaguars, kinkajoues, lovely cotingas, motmots, and quetzals. Many people have never heard of such animals, much less seen them in person.
I was inspired to write and illustrate Adventure in Pico Bonito after visiting Pico Bonito, and based my oil paintings on photographs by North American biologist James Adams, who spent almost two decades documenting the rainforest wildlife of Honduras. He has one of the most extensive collections of rainforest wildlife photography in Honduras.
My goal in writing this book is two-fold: First, I want to reach out to children in Honduras and encourage them to grow up with an appreciation for the amazing gifts nature has given them in the form of the wonderful wildlife found there. I believe that if this can be accomplished, children will love Nature and grow up wanting to protect it. Secondly, I would like to reach out to children throughout the world so that they may learn about a country located in the heart of the American continent — a country full of beauty, mystery and amazing wildlife to be discovered.
The beautifully-illustrated book introduces children to 2 dozen animal species including birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects, and can be used by teachers as a language and science supplement. It is available on Amazon in English, Spanish, and in a bilingual version. A portion of all profits will benefit education and wildlife conservation.