Carlos Saavedra Lamas, the first Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner

June 6, 193785 years ago, an Argentine and Latin American received, for the first time, the Nobel Peace Prize. It was about Carlos Saavedra Lamas, to whom, upon distinguishing him, they delivered a medal that keeps a story for the destiny it had time after.

The distinction was awarded to the lawyer, diplomat and politician in June 1936 and became effective the following year, when he held the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina. He was distinguished for having inspired an anti-war agreement that later bore his name: the Saavedra Lamas Pact. It was signed by 21 nations in 1933 and became an international legal instrument.

The unusual thing about the case was the fate of the Nobel Prize medal. After his father’s death, In 1959, the only son of the former chancellor, Carlos Roque Saavedra Sáenz Peña, sold the distinctive of the prize due to serious problems with the Justice.

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Some time later, the medal was rescued from a pawnshop and, after several changes of hands, it was auctioned on March 29, 2014 by the Bowers Stock House. An Asian collector bought it for more than a million dollars.

The legacy of Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Nobel Peace Prize winner

Saavedra Lamas was an important mediator in the end of the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia. He did so by calling the Buenos Aires Peace Conference and thus avoiding US military presence in the war zone. This conflict, for the control of the Chaco Boreal, was fought from September 9, 1932 to June 12, 1935 (date on which the armistice was signed) and was the most important, disputed in South American territory, during the 20th century. .

Carlos Saavedra Lamas was appointed by President Agustín P. Justo as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina.By: General Archive of the Nation

There was another particularity, this time, in the act of distinction. Is that the delivery of the award took place at his home on calle Quintana y Callao, porteño neighborhood of Recoleta, without an official act. President Agustín P. Justo was displeased with this distinction, since it was he who had given the instructions to mediate in the war.

Furthermore, in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Saavedra Lamas defended the neutrality of Argentina, considering the number of Spanish immigrants in our country.

What did the Saavedra Lamas Anti-War Pact propose? The treaty condemned wars of aggression and advocated the peaceful settlement of international disputes of any kind. declared that, between the contracting parties, territorial questions were not to be settled by violence. Territorial settlements obtained by violent means would not be recognized, nor would the validity of the occupation or acquisition of territories by force of arms.

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This pact was signed by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Mexico; Later, Colombia, Bolivia, El Salvador, Costa Rica and nations outside the American territory such as Italy, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece and Portugal, among other countries, joined.

During the Inter-American Conference of 1936, Carlos Saavedra Lamas proclaimed: .“A restless and agitated world surrounds us. Dense clouds are on their horizons. Sometimes lightning strikes. Perhaps a great storm will come, but this storm finds us united, ready for noble consultations, for exchanges of ideas to protect our continent from repercussions that we cannot admit and to also turn to all horizons, offering the collaboration and cooperation that we are willing to lend to the great human ideals that have no continental limits or restrictions”.

Other facts about the life of Carlos Saavedra Lamas

  • He was born in Buenos Aires in 1878. He was the great-grandson of Cornelio Saavedra and grandson of Mariano Saavedra, governor of the province of Buenos Aires during the presidency of Bartolomé Miter.
  • Between 1941 and 1943 was rector of the University of Buenos Aires and later, professor of Labor Legislation.
  • He excelled in international law and He was a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
  • In his political career he was elected National Deputy (1908-1912) for the Federal Capital, and later for the Province of Buenos Aires (1912-1915).
  • His time as Minister of Foreign Affairs of President Agustín P. Justo is considered one of the most active and crucial in the history of Argentine foreign policy.
  • He died on May 5, 1959 in Buenos Aires, at the age of 80.

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Carlos Saavedra Lamas, the first Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner