Adolfo Pérez Esquivel Biography

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, an Argentine human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is a multifaceted individual with talents in painting, architecture, and sculpture. His dedication to championing human rights and advocating for nonviolent reforms in Latin America has earned him numerous prestigious awards and accolades. Despite a challenging childhood marked by poverty and the loss of his mother at a young age, Pérez Esquivel overcame adversity to become a successful student, studying fine arts and pursuing a career as a professor of architecture. However, his passion for peace led him to leave his teaching position and devote himself entirely to the cause. As a coordinator general for a network of Latin American communities promoting nonviolent means of liberation for the poor, he has made significant contributions to the pursuit of peace. Additionally, he has served as the president of the Honorary Council of Service and the Latin American Peace and Justice Foundation.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Adolfo Perez Esquivel
  • Age: 92 Years, 92 Year Old Males
  • City: Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Education: National University of La Plata
  • Awards: Nobel Peace Prize

Childhood & Early Life

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel was born on November 26, 1931 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to a Spanish fisherman from Poio, Galicia, who emigrated to Argentina. His mother died when he was three and he grew up in poverty.

Despite the hardships he faced, he performed well at school and furthered his education at the Manuel Belgrano School of Fine Arts and the National University of La Plata, where he was trained as a painter and sculptor.


Adolfo Pérez Esquivel embarked on a successful career as a sculptor and became quite well-known. An equally successful teaching career followed and over a span of 25 years he taught in all levels from primary to university, and worked with a variety of sculptural media.

He began working with Latin American Christian pacifist groups during the 1960s, and with time his involvement with the cause intensified. In 1968, it was decided to set up a joint organization covering all non-violent elements throughout Latin America.

The organization was given a more permanent form in 1974 and Pérez Esquivel was made the coordinator general for the network of Latin America-based communities promoting liberation of the poor through non-violent means. Working as a professor at the Argentine National School of Fine Arts during that time, he left his teaching post to focus entirely on the peace movement.

The country found itself in great political turmoil following the military coup in 1976. It was reeling under a violent dictatorship and it was during this period that Adolfo Pérez Esquivel emerged as a relentless champion of human rights and opponent of all violence.

The NGO Servicio Paz y Justicia (“Service, Peace and Justice Foundation”, or SERPAJ), which he co-founded in 1974 played an instrumental role in promoting an international campaign to denounce the atrocities committed by the military regime. SERPAJ is a member of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR).

Outspoken and courageous, he earned many enemies. He was detained by the Brazilian Military Police in 1975, jailed in 1976 in Ecuador, along with Latin American and North American bishops, and detained in Buenos Aires in 1977 by the Argentine Federal Police, and tortured. He was finally released after 14 months due to mounting pressures.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1980, for his efforts in the defense of human rights. He continued his stance as an outspoken advocate of human rights and traveled and lectured extensively in the ensuing years.

In his years as a human rights activist, he also served as president of the Honorary Council of Service, Latin American Peace and Justice Foundation and of the International League for Human Rights and Liberation of Peoples (based in Milan), and as a member of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal.

In 1995, he published a book ‘Caminando Junto al Pueblo’ (“Walking Together with the People”), in which he detailed his experiences with non-violence in Latin America. He was appointed Professor of Peace and Human Rights Studies at the University of Buenos Aires in 1998.

Major Works

As a sculptor and artist he is the creator of several murals and monuments. One of his best known architectural works is the 15 station Latin American Via Crucis, made in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the conquest of America.

Awards & Achievements

The 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams nominated Pérez Esquivel for the Nobel Peace Prize which he won on December 10, 1980, for his efforts in the defense of human rights. He donated the prize money to charity.

He was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award in 1999.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1956, he married Amanda Pérez, a pianist and composer. The couple has three sons.

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