The 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, active reference for the defense of human rights, president of the ecumenical Christian organization, Servicio de Paz y Justicia (Serpaj) and detained for more than a year during the last Argentine dictatorship ( 1976-1983), turned 90 years old last Friday.
On the day of his birth, the head of Serpaj was congratulated by countless institutions and people, including the Nobel Prize committee and the president of Bolivia, Luis Arce, who sent him a big hug on his birthday.
Recognized in 1980 with the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the establishment of peace, justice and the defense of human rights in a non-violent way in Argentina and Latin America, Pérez Esquivel received this award on behalf of the peoples of America:
“I feel excited and at the same time committed to redoubling my efforts in the fight for peace and justice. Since peace is only possible as the fruit of justice, that this true peace is the profound transformation of non-violence that is the force of love, ”he said then.
The son of a Galician immigrant and an Argentine of Guarani descent, Pérez Esquivel was born in Buenos Aires on November 26, 1931. He was the third of the four children the couple had.
When his mother passed away, economic difficulties prompted the father to return to Galicia to work as a fisherman and be able to send money to his children.
At the age of 3, Adolfo became a ward of the Spanish Board of the Argentine capital, later he lived a period with his maternal grandmother Eugenia and finally returned with his family to the Buenos Aires neighborhood of San Telmo, where he finished his studies at a Franciscan school. , training that profoundly influenced his thinking.
Despite financial difficulties, he managed to study architecture, devoted himself to the plastic arts, taught and is the author of several books. He is married to Amanda Guerreño, whom he met during his studies and with whom he has three children.
First years of struggle
In 1974, together with various ecumenical Christian groups, he created the Peace and Justice Service in Argentina and Latin America.
A few years later, he participated in the formation of the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, an organization that played a fundamental role in registering complaints and testimonies from relatives of the disappeared or victims of State terrorism in Argentina.
In 1976, with the aim of designing programs for the development of native communities and other needy groups in Latin America, he began to travel to different countries.
“I feel excited and at the same time committed to redoubling my efforts in the fight for peace and justice. Since peace is only possible as the fruit of justice, that this true peace is the profound transformation of non-violence that is the power of love ”.
ADOLFO PÉREZ ESQUIVEL,
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Arrest in the dictatorship
On April 4, 1977, he was arrested by the Argentine dictatorship, he was imprisoned for 14 months during which he suffered torture and survived a “death flight”. Due to international pressure, he was released in 1978, when the country was celebrating the World Cup.
On the horrors he experienced in those years, he said: “I do not hold hatred or grudges, what we are looking for is truth, justice, reparation for the damage done so that it never happens again.”
After the Nobel Prize
After the Nobel, Pérez Esquivel was a member of the executive committee of the UN Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, he also participated in various international missions and conflict resolution campaigns.
He is president of the Honorary Council of the Latin American Peace and Justice Service and of the Provincial Commission for Memory, the International League for Human Rights and the liberation of peoples, based in Milan, and a member of the Permanent People’s Tribunal, based in in Rome.
In 2020, on the 40th anniversary of the award, the Casa Rosada paid him a tribute and Pope Francis dedicated some emotional words to him: “Thank you, Adolfo, for your testimony in beautiful moments, but also in painful moments of the homeland. For your word, your courage and for your simplicity ”.
At the age of 90, Pérez Esquivel continues his work for human rights at the Fundación Servicio Paz y Justicia and actively participates in the “Proyecto Aldea Niños para la Paz”, a program that assists minors in precarious social situations.
A proud legacy for Argentina
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, (November 26, 1931, Buenos Aires, Argentina), studied architecture at the National School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires and at the National University of La Plata. He worked as a teacher for 25 years and in 1971 he began to get involved in movements that fight for peace and justice.
For the year 1973, he founded the newspaper Peace and justice which soon became the summit of the pacifist movement and the defense of human rights in the Latin American area of influence, and the “Peace and Justice Ecumenical Movement” with various Christian groups. Two years later he participated in the creation of the “Permanent Assembly for Human Rights”, describes the Peace and Justice Service (Serpaj) on its official site.
According to the document, starting in 1976, Pérez dedicated himself to traveling the world and designing aid and development programs for Latin American indigenous communities, labor movements and other groups of people in need.
However, he was imprisoned in Argentina by the military dictatorship of President Jorge Rafael Videla during 1977 and 1978, but during that period in prison he received the Juan XXIII Peace Memorial Prize awarded by Pax Cristi Internacional. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight in favor of human rights and shortly after he was appointed a member of the executive committee of the United Nations Permanent Assembly on Human Rights, the note describes.
In addition, Pérez has contributed to numerous international missions, such as ‘Boat for Peace to Nicaragua’, ‘Boat for Solidarity to Poland’ and conflict resolution campaigns in South Africa, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Tibet, among others. Among his innumerable literary works stands out Walking Along the Town (1995), where he recounts his experiences in the struggle for the ideal of Non-Violence in Latin America. Currently, Esquivel dedicates his time to the Service, Peace and Justice Foundation (Serpaj) and to the Aldea Niños para la Paz project that serves numerous minors in a state of social risk, Serpaj mentioned.
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Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner, turns 90