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Father Gregorio Iriarte, OMI Honored for a Lifetime of Human Rights and Justice Work September 23rd, 2012
Rolando Lopez, secretary general of the Universidad Mayor de San Simon, said the highest distinction regarding the defense of Human Rights was awarded to Fr. Gregorio Iriarte omi, a priest with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He said this is a recognition of Fr. Iriasrte’s activity as founder of the Assembly of Human Rights and his contribution to the restoration of democracy in Bolivia.
Fr. Gregorio Iriarte said he was grateful though, he said, he did not deserve such an honor: “My contribution is relative. It is true that I wrote some books, but I can not say I’m a great researcher, I think I’m more of a popularizer, I try to simply translate what others do in science, politics, of economics “.
Fr. Iriarte was also honored with the Ana Maria Romero de Campero National Prize for Culture of Peace from La Fundación UNIR. He was the founder of the Permanent Human Rights Assembly of Bolivia, as well as UNITAS (Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social – the Bolivian CSO network) and ERBOL (Educación Radiofónica de Bolivia) – an NGO based in La Paz, Bolivia dedicated to using radio as a means for providing education, social service and pluralistic news. Fr. Iriarte is valued for his tireless work in promoting and defending human rights and the establishment of social justice.
He is considered one of the main drivers of the “liberation church” and his primary contribution was working with basic Christian communities formed by poor people, in order to mobilize them in an attempt to improve their living conditions. Dictatorial governments labeled him as a “friend of the enemies of the government” and expelled him from the country several times. He remained committed to a deep conviction to work with the most needy. Born in 1925, in the Basque region of Spain, he arrived in Bolivia in 1964 and worked in the Llallagua mining center in the Potosi region. As head of Radio Pío XII, he worked to educate farmers and community members in this region.
Fr. Iriarte has published thirty books on the struggle for democracy, teaching values, and promoting principles of a peace culture claiming that education is a means of justice, freedom and solidarity. He has been invited to many national and international forums as a champion of justice and peace.
This week, Bolivian President Evo Morales is convening the People’s World Conference on Climate Change, an alternative to the unwieldy and U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change that fell so far short of expectations last December. NGOs, scientists, activists, indigenous leaders, and representatives of 60 to 70 national governments are coming together for this alternative conference – in all, about 7,500 attendees from 110 countries.
Daniel LeBlanc, OMI – Oblate representative to the UN – is attending the conference and sent this update yesterday:
Cochabamba, Bolivia, 19 April 2010
The Conference officially begins Tuesday morning with President Evo Morales doing the honors.
However, today there were already several events and huge crowds. Fr. Gregorio Iriarte OMI was to give a talk at 4:30, along with 3 other panelists, and so I accompanied him to the stadium where credentials were given to those who had registered through the internet, as well as to those who had neglected to do so. I had already picked up my pass, and Fr. Gregorio is over around 80 years old and had to give a talk, so they let him through. Once they gave him his credentials, he was told that apart from the credentials for those who had already registered and those who had come later, 20,000 credentials had been distributed. There were still long line-ups out on the sidewalks – I estimate between 7 and 8 blocks long – and they had to send to the printer to get more passes printed – so attendance will be good, better than expected.
Please see on-line for much more information in Spanish and in English (choose language) at http://pwccc.wordpress.com/
Climate Change Disproportionately Affects Poor Countries January 15th, 2010
Climate Change is affecting poor countries now and the problems will only get worse, but these countries are hardly in a position to cope. Bolivia, with its reliance on glacial melt for water for agriculture and human consumption, is a good example.