Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

A Priceless Peace Prize

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

A Priceless Peace Prize

Article excerpt

For the second time in just six years, a Central American has been awarded the world's most distinguished honor for helping to promote peace. In selecting 33-year-old Rigoberta Menchu as winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize the Oslo, Norway-based Nobel panel stated the native of Guatemala is "a vivid symbol of peace and reconciliation ... in her own country, on the American continent and in the world."

The first Latin American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize was Carlos de Saavedra Lamas of Argentina in 1936. Forty-four years later, the prize went to another Argentine, Adolfo Perez Esquivel for his work on behalf of the victims of his country's military dictatorship. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez was singled out for the award in 1987 because of his efforts to resolve the civil war in neighboring Nicaragua. In the past decade, the peace prize has gone, more often than not, to high profile political, spiritual and moral leaders like Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (1990), anti-Nazi activist Elie Wiesel (1986), South African church leader Bishop Desmond Tutu (1984) and Polish union leader Lech Walesa (1983).

The choice of Menchu, a Quiche Indian to whom Spanish is a second language, has proven a popular one during the year of the observance of the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World. …

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