On Friday, April 13, Oregon State University will be hosting a free public talk by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his leadership for human rights and true democracy for the people of Latin America.
Argentina’s political history is one of great turmoil. Between 1930 and 1973 there was a military coup overthrowing the government almost every other year. In 1976, after yet another coup, a military dictatorship took power. This military government carried out a policy of repression, torture and murder called the “Dirty War.” The brutal crackdown on democratic rights was aimed at artists, professors, school teachers, journalists, activists, and intellectuals, basically anyone who could reach a wider audience. In 1983, the military government was thrown out and members of the dictatorship were brought to trial. However, the full story of the dirty war remains to be told.
Esquivel gave up teaching in 1974 and devoted his time to building nonviolent movements for change in Latin America. Because of his work for human rights across Latin America, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel became a target of the military dictatorship. In 1977, he himself was “disappeared” and was imprisoned and tortured by the Argentinean military for 14 months. He was released after being named Amnesty International’s Political Prisoner of the Year in 1978, which led to thousands of letters being written to the Argentinean government demanding his release. Upon his release, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel continued his work in Latin America’s nonviolent movement.
Today, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel helps support two groups called the “Mothers” and the “Grandmothers of May Square,” women who are trying to bring out the truth about the crimes of the dictatorship, to bring justice to their families and to locate the children of the “disappeared” and reunite them with their biological families.
As Adolfo said in his Nobel acceptance speech, he continues to believe in, and work for, “A change based on justice, built with love and which will bring us the most anxiously desired fruit of peace.”
Doors open at 7 pm. Entertainment begins at that time, before Esquivel begins his talk at 7:30 pm.
This is Adolfo Perez Esquivel’s only open to the public event while in Corvallis for the weekend to work with over 250 youth from around the Pacific Northwest at the annual PeaceJam Northwest Youth Conference.