Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel: The Dignity of the Human Being from Administrator's blog

Author/Compiler: Tihomir Dimitrov (; also see


Nobel Prize: Adolfo Perez Esquivel (born 1931) was awarded the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle for democracy and human rights in Argentina. He was arrested in 1977 and held without charge for 14 months, during which time he was tortured.

Nationality: Argentinean

Education: Architect and sculptor, National University of La Plata, Argentina

Occupation: Professor of Architecture and Sculpture at the National Academy of Art in Buenos Aires (1968-1974); Secretary-General of the international organization “Peace and Justice Service” (1974 – present)


1. In his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (Les Prix Nobel 1980) Prof. Perez Esquivel said:

“I am convinced that the gospel power of nonviolence presents a choice that opens up for us a challenge of new and radical perspectives. It is an option which gives priority to the essential Christian value: the dignity of the human being; the sacred, transcendent and irrevocable dignity that belongs to the human being by reason of being a child of God and a brother or sister in Christ, and therefore, our own brother and sister.” (Perez Esquivel 1981).

2. To the question of Denver Catholic Register (February 2001) “You were imprisoned in 1977 for your opposition of the Argentinean government, what sustained you through that imprisonment and through the torture you endured?” Perez Esquivel replied:

“For me, prayer was very important. And the experience of beginning to understand faith from the experience of suffering and through an experience of pain. Oftentimes, that experience is so much an abstraction and not real, and so to begin to understand and live one’s faith through pain and through suffering and being at the margin. But it was a very difficult process.

It was a time of much questioning because those who were torturing me, for instance, also called themselves Christians. And all the crimes that they committed, they committed them in the name of the defense of so called ‘Western Christian civilization.’

Another experience that was very difficult for me, that took a long time for me to be able to deal with, was reflecting on Christ’s words as he is tried and put to the cross. He says, ‘Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.’ It took me a long time, and a lot of reflection, to be able to see that I think what Christ was saying there was, as he was saying to these people who tortured me and others, that they don’t understand that the man or woman they are torturing is their own sister, or their own brother.” (Perez Esquivel, as cited in Bledsoe 2001).

3. “For us liberty is that inalienable capacity that all humans alike have at their disposal. This is the capacity that permits the building of communion and participation which encourage human beings to relate fully with the world, with their brothers and sisters and with God.” (Perez Esquivel 1981, Nobel Lecture).

4. “For me it is essential to have the inner peace and serenity of prayer in order to listen to the silence of God, which speaks to us in our personal life and the history of our times, of the power of love. Because of this faith in Christ and humankind, we must apply our humble efforts to build a more just and humane world. I want to affirm emphatically: such a world is possible.” (Perez Esquivel 1981, Acceptance Speech).

5. Perez Esquivel closed his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (Les Prix Nobel 1980) with the words:

“Invoking the strength of Christ, our Lord, I would like to share with you, with my people, and with the world what He has taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the poor in spirit

– theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn

– they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle

– they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

– they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful

– they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart

– they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers

– they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake

– theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of falsehoods against you for my sake.

Rejoice and be glad, for great will be your reward in heaven. In the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. [Matthew 5, 3-12].” (Perez Esquivel 1981).


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