for being a source of inspiration to repressed people, especially in Latin America
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
Artist and Peace Activist
Following the military coup in 1976, Argentina was a violent dictatorship for five years. It was during that period that the Roman Catholic Adolfo Pérez Esquivel became known as a human rights activist and opponent of all violence. His commitment could be traced right back to the 1960s, when he had worked for social development by means of nonviolent liberation.
In the 1970s, Esquivel headed the Latin American human rights organization SERPAJ. Abandoning a university career, he traveled around Latin America building networks. In 1977 he was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Argentina's military rulers. He was only released after 14 months, when the pressure from his friends became too great.
In 1980 the Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasized that Esquivel through his courageous nonviolent struggle had lit a light in the darkness of Argentina's violence. His work was an inspiration to oppressed people all over the world.