“My Mom Is the Best Lawyer in the World”

“My Mom Is the Best Lawyer in the World”

Daniela, daughter of our attorney Gladys Martínez, feeds a calf.

“My mom is the best lawyer in the world because she defends the turtles, the corals, the salted forests they have in the sea, and alllll the fish.”

As I listened to my 4-year-old daughter, Daniela, say this to an auditorium full of parents, boy and girls, my eyes filled with tears and my heart filled with love and happiness.  Listening to my little girl brag about what her mother does renewed my strength and enables me to continue working passionately.

Daniela summed up quite well my work on AIDA’s team of attorneys in the Marine and Coastal Protection Program. My colleagues and I focus on three key areas: coral reefs, mangroves and fisheries. We use national and international standards to support marine ecosystems and the people who depend upon them.

Coral Reefs

We know that by protecting coral reefs, we’re preserving natural barriers that protect coastal communities from storms and hurricanes—which are growing ever stronger due to climate change. We’re also conscious that the many varieties of fish we enjoy on our dinner table exist only because of the important breeding grounds that corals provide.


Mangroves, or “salted forests” as my daughter calls them, are swampy forests that exist in lakes, rivers and tropical coasts where fresh river water mixes with saltwater from the sea. My colleagues and I are determined to safeguard these ecosystems because we know they are our greatest allies. Mangroves capture from the atmosphere 50 times more carbon dioxide than tropical forests. They are also an important food source for birds, and a center of breeding and development for shrimp, crab and some fish, which provide a livelihood for coastal communities. One example of these unique ecosystems is Marismas Nacionales, the largest mangrove forest in Mexico, which we’re currently fighting to protect.


Conscious that ecosystems are interrelated and reliant upon each other, we work to create sustainable fisheries. If we care for one fish, the rest of the fish will also benefit. We hope that future generations will also be able to taste a fish from the sea, not just observe one in a photograph. We have seen that adopting appropriate measures has allowed fish populations to recover, as occurred with the hoki in New Zealand, the anchoveta in Spain and France, and the cod in the northern Atlantic ocean.

Every day I appreciate and enjoy the privilege my children, Daniela and Agustín, have to run through a forest, stick their feet in the ocean and feel the movement of little fish between their toes, or marvel at their first glimpse of a magnificent butterfly or a towering tree. In these moments, I reaffirm the words my parents said one day to my husband and me: “Many good memories outside are worth much more than many toys in the house.”

At AIDA we are 26 people working throughout the continent with dedication and commitment. We do it for Daniela and Agustín, and for the rest of the little boys and girls who are part of our organization: Amber, Esteban and Eloísa, Constanza, Jared, Isabelle and Caroline, Izabela, Paloma, Marc and Rosalie.

We work for our children and for all children, so that current and future generations have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy environment.

Thank you for supporting our work!

About the Author

Gladys Martínez


Gladys Martínez is our senior attorney for the Marine Biodiversity and Coastal Protection Program, working out of AIDA’s offices in San Jose, Costa Rica. She has helped bring AIDA victories from protecting endangered turtles and coastal areas through litigation and the development of environmentally sustainable policies. Gladys received her law degree from the Universidad de Costa Rica, and holds a master’s degree in Environment, Security and Peace from the United Nations University-UPEACE. 

Any opinions expressed in this blog are the authors’ own and may not be shared by the organization. AIDA includes them with full respect for the freedom of expression and plurality of our team of professionals.

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