Magazine article Earth Island Journal

The Right Livelihood Awards

Magazine article Earth Island Journal

The Right Livelihood Awards

Article excerpt

The Right Livelihood Awards, often referred to as "Alternative Nobel Prizes," have been presented in the Swedish Parliament since 1979 "to honor and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today."

The 1999 prize -- and a cash award of $225,000 -- was shared by recipients in Spain, Colombia and Cuba.

Juan Garces, a Spanish lawyer, was honored for his case-building work leading to the October 1998 arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. This has created hope that in the future there will be no hiding place for anyone who commits crimes against humanity.

Colombia's Program for the Consolidation of the Amazon Region (COAMA) shared the prize for demonstrating how indigenous people can improve their livelihoods, sustain their cultures and conserve their rainforests -- a welcomed contrast to the social and environmental destruction that has accompanied most conventional development strategies.

Cuba's Grupo de Agricultura Organica (GAO) won the award for its work in developing organic agriculture to help overcome one of the most serious food crises in the country's history. The Right Livelihood jury called GAO "an exemplary combination of grassroots commitment and agricultural expertise that has brought organic agriculture to the heart of the Cuban food system."

During the 1990s, Cuba overcame a severe food shortage caused by the collapse of its trade relations with the former Soviet bloc and by the US trade embargo. …

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