Adolfo Pérez Esquivel is Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
He has devoted many years of his life to the cause of human rights in Argentina and the whole of Latin America.
He is an untiring and consistent champion of the principle of nonviolence in the struggle for social and political liberty. He has lit a light in the dark, a light which, in the opinion of our Committee, should never be allowed to be extinguished.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (born November 26, 1931 in Buenos Aires, Argentina) was the recipient of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize. He is noted for leading protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas and for bringing attention to Argentine police forming children into paramilitary squads, an operation he compares to the creation of Nazi Germany's Hitler Youth.
Esquivel attended the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Universidad Nacional de La Plata where he was trained as an architect and sculptor. He then was appointed professor of architecture. For 25 years, he taught in primary schools, secondary schools and at the university level. He has worked in a number of sculptural media.
In the 1960s, Pérez Esquivel began working with popularly based Latin American Christian pacifist groups. In 1974 he decided to relinquish his teaching as he was chosen as coordinator general for a network of Latin America-based communities promoting liberation of the poor through non-violent means.
When systematic repression followed Jorge Videla's military coup of 1976, Esquivel contributed to the formation and financing of the linkages between popularly based organizations to defend human rights and support the families of the victims of the Dirty War. El Servicio de Paz y Justicia ("Service, Peace and Justice Foundation"), which he founded, evolved in this context, and served as an instrument for the defense of human rights by promoting an international campaign to denounce the atrocities committed by the military regime.
In 1975, Esquivel was detained by the Brazilian military police; he was jailed in 1976 in Ecuador, along with Latin American and North American bishops; in 1977 in Buenos Aires he was arrested by the Policía Federal, tortured, and held without trial for 14 months. Whilst incarcerated, he received — among other distinctions — the Pope John XXIII Peace Memorial. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the defense of human rights. In 1999 he was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award.
As of 2003, he is president of the Honorary Council of Service, Latin American Peace and Justice Foundation and of the International League for Human Rights and Liberation of Peoples, based in Milan, Italy, and a member of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal. Besides this work, he has published Caminando Junto al Pueblo ("Walking Together with the People", 1995), in which he relates his experiences with non-violence in Latin America