Adolfo Pérez Esquivel Adolfo Pérez Esquivel 

Nobel Peace Prize winner calls for culture of solidarity

The founder of Servizio Paz y Justicia, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, speaks to Vatican Media about Covid-19 in Latin America and the need for a culture of solidarity.

By Vatican News

The 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1931. After training as an architect and sculptor, he was appointed Professor of Architecture. In 1974, he gave up his academic career to devote his time and energy to found Servizio Paz y Justicia, a Christian based, non-violent organization committed to the defense of human rights in Latin America.

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the 88-year-old Adolfo Pérez Esquivel shares his reflections on the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on the world and Latin American countries in particular.

Covid-19 in Latin America

Esquivel notes that the pandemic has “spread to all countries of Latin America with serious consequences.” He points out that the poor and those who live in the slums are most affected as many do not have access to clean water, proper hygiene and food. 

Even though the spread of Covid-19 is slowed down by precautionary health measures, Esquivel states that these same measures have had repercussions on “commercial, cultural, educational and religious activities.” He notes that despite the great social solidarity and government palliative measures to aid the poor, the efforts are not enough. 

Turning his thoughts towards the Amazon, Esquivel appeals for an end to the violence against the indigenous people and the “destruction of the environment that is carried out by burning the forest and devastating the fauna and biodiversity.” 

A culture of solidarity

Esquivel points out that new social and economic policies are needed to respond to the unprecedented situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He says many people have lost their jobs, making inequality between the rich and poor are more pronounced. 

“It is necessary to promote a culture of solidarity and the sharing of goods with those most in need,” he adds. “We must not forget that the problem of others is a problem for everyone.”

The 88-year-old calls for the creation of a new social contract based on principles that “guarantee respect for fundamental rights such as health, education, peace and protection of the environment.” He also stresses the urgent need to protect common goods such “rivers and seas, forests, fauna and biodiversity.” 

Underground rivers that emerge with life and hope

Perez Esquivel notes that many “social, political and economic attitudes that seemed commonplace are undergoing profound changes.” The unwanted confinement, he explains, “has put a brake on the acceleration of time” and has shown us the need to find balance. He invites everyone to see this time as an opportunity to “meditate, pray, reflect and take care of one’s physical and mental health.” 

Looking to the future, Esquivel finds hope in young people whom he encourages to become “underground rivers that emerge with the power of life and hope.” 

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28 May 2020, 15:32