Juan Carrero Saralegui received the “Courage of Conscience” award. He is the first Spaniard granted with this award. On tuesday the 2nd of February 1999, at 11 AM received Juan Carrero Saralegui, President of the Foundation S’Olivar in Estellencs (Mallorca, Spain) in Sherborn (Massachusetts) the “Courage of Conscience” award, granted by The Peace Abbey. The founder and director Lewis Randa and the retired colonel of the U.S. army William J. Cavanaugh, member of the organization Veterans for Peace, handed over a sculpture representing the dove of peace beginning its flight from a pair of open hands.
Juan Carrero Saralegui is the first Spaniard awarded with this award. Previously awarded a.o.: Ernesto Cardenal, Mother Teresa, The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Daniel Berrigan, Paul Winter Consort, Helen Caldicott, Brian Willson, Rosa Parks, Ramsey Clark, Maya Angelou, Muhammad AlÌ, Rigoberta Menchu, Harry Wu, Mikkail Gorbachev, Patch Adams, Hugh Tompson, Sting, Jimy Carter, Joan Baez, Greenpeace.
Also awarded posthumously: Anwar Sadat, Alva Myrdal, Mahatma Gandhi, Peace Pilgrim, Ben Linder, Abbie Hoffman, John Ono Lennon, Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, Robert Francis Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Woody Gutrie and Glenn Andreotta. These awards were collected at The Peace Abbey by the closes family member of the awardwinner: the grandson of Gandhi, the son of John Lennon, the son of Martin L. King, etc.
At the ceremony Juan Carrero Saralegui said:
Ladies and gentlemen,
When the Argentinean military triad composed by generals Videla, Masera and Agosti, made their coup and began their tortures, crimes, kidnappings and disappearances, I was living with my wife, Susana, exactly at the foothills of the Argentinean Andes, at the border between Chile and Argentina. At an altitude of almost 12.000 feet we were the teachers at a small school attended by more than 50 quechuas indigenous children. Together with our dear Argentinean friend, Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo PÈrez Esquivel and many other less well known companions, my wife and I claim to be part of the third generation of the non violent movement that Mahatma Gandhi created.
I met my wife 25 years ago at L’Arch Community, founded by Lanza del Vasto, the European disciple of Mahatma Gandhi whom he named Shantidas, Servant of the Peace, whom he commissioned to spread the non violence movement in the West. My wife lived close to Lanza del Vasto for more than a year. At that time I was the third conscientious objector in Spain apart from the Jehova’s Witness. The first two had been condemned to 8 years in prison. I tried to force the legal acceptance of a Social Service position instead of the mandatory military service by working and living with the quechuas. Because I was a conscientious objector I was a fugitive from the Spanish military Justice. My goal was to return to Spain after several years, supported by the delegation of Missions in my diocese. Because of our work Adolfo, my wife and I were about to loose our lives. Our school was only a few miles from Mina Aguilar, a huge mine from which an American corporation extracted tons of various and valuable gems daily.
A few weeks ago, Madeleine Albright, admitted that the American government made a big mistake by supporting the Latin America dictatorships. The same day that the Secretary of State made these declarations I accompanied Adolfo in Spain. Him and Mr Almada, president of the American Jurist Association in Paraguay, had just the day before provided the Spanish judge Baltazar Garzon with abundant documentation about the support that Madeleine Albrigth referred to, the Condor Plan. So I was there when Adolfo was questioned about the words pronounced by the Secretary of State and he answered: “I don’t know about any error of the US government. I know that they made a detailed plan and it was carried out without any error”. Perhaps the greatest crimes committed by these dictatorships were excesses and out of the control of the US government. But still, their responsability is serious.
Twenty five years later history repeats itself. During the last five years the Foundation S’Olivar of which I am the president, has felt moved to act in favor of the defenseless civilians in Rwanda, Burundi and now also in the D.R. of Congo. We know well what is happening in this region. In the last five years we have gathered enough stories about the terrible massacres and other acts of extreme cruelty. We have walked more than 2.000 km for peace. We reached our limit when we fasted for 42 days. We have received the support of 19 Nobel Prize winners and of practically all of the European Parliament headed by its Spanish president Mr. JosÈ MarÌa Gil Robles. We have supported the European Commisary for the Humanitarian Aid, Ms. Emma Bonino, who met with the Rwandan Hutu refugees in Zaire in February of 97 accompanied by the TV cameras, while the sophisticated North American satellites did not want to see this reality and they denied their existence. She found 300.000 people only in Tingui Tingui! When she arrived to Brussels she declared: “We have returned from hell”. Thanks to all these actions we believe that for now we have saved thousands of lives. However, the majority were massacred by the armed extremist tutsis by firearms, hunger, illnesses and wounds in their feet.
The massacres performed by the Hutu extremist in 94 cannot be used ever again as alibi that justifies the massacres that are now being conducted by the extremist Tutsi lobbies that are in control of the region. You can believe me when I tell you that since 1990 only the armed extremist tutsi’s (and specially the Rwandan Patriotic Front that today tyrannize the Rwandan people) have killed many more human beings than those extremists Hutus whom they accuse of genocide. When the propaganda that the FPR has spread makes believe that the Tutsi ethnic group is the great and only victim in this conflict, in reality they use their own etnic group as a shield. I cannot talk more clearly for security reasons. Shortly after I left Burundi the last time, the three people from Burundi who we had left as representatives of an NGOs connected to our Foundation in different provinces, were assassinated (the Governor of a province, the Major of a town, the nurse in charge of a health care center). Also two years ago, in the middle of our 42 days fast in front of the European Parliament in Brussels and in front of the American Embassy in Spain, three Spanish collaborators were killed in Rwanda by the FPR pretending to be Hutu rebels. The live of the fourth collaborator was spared because he was an American citizen.
I could go on and on. Soon we will be horrified when all these cruelties come to light of what the Tutsi extremists have been doing for years, but once more it will be to late. More likely this genocide will not only be much worse than those produced by the Latin American dictatorships, it may even surpass the genocide of Pol Pot.
In the same way that the so called genocide of 1994 cannot be used as the alibi to eliminate in a selective and massive way the Hutus ethnicity, nor can the grave responsabilities of some European governments in the past in this region excuse the responsability of the US now. For this reason I denounce here today the Government of the US for giving military training to these armies guilty of genocide. I denounce the participation of the North American Administration in the planning of the projects on invasion of Rwanda in 1990 and Zaire in 1996 and I denounce that they supported the execution of these invasions. I also dare to beg to each one of you here in the name of truth and of the most holy and sacred in this life, in the name of your ancestors that made this big and wonderful country that today honors me with this award, in the name of the heroes that I admire so much who throughout the history of this nation fought for justice and for solidarity; some of whom received before me this same award that I receive today; in the name of the enormous suffering of millions of African brothers ans sisters; finally, in the name of God whom I love and try to serve in spite of my limitations and weaknesses; in the name of all of them I beg you to help me and my companions in our ambitious effort to make the government of this country to change its policy in the Great Lakes African region. I beg you to help us in our intend that your government will not support for one more day allies that are responsible of huge crimes against humanity, even responsible for a genocide. I beg you to help us so that our small voice reaches the North American society through the media.
The sooner the debate opens up here about the implications and responsabilities of the American administration in regard to this genocide, the sooner we will be able to stop it. In Belgium and France a similar debate has already begun. There are many of us, not only here but also in Europe, that would like to see that the moral prestige of this nation will not be squandered. The great causes of peace and justice need the great strenght of the US. On the contrary as a Mahatma Gandhi used to say, all that is built upon injustice and falsehood, even the greatest empires, is destroyed.
As earlier Bishop Romero in El Salvador, also the Jesuit bishop Munzihirwa 3 days before his assassination in 1996 in the Kivu region of Zaire, protested: “We ask the Tutsi lobbies leading Rwanda and Burundi to stop organizing the misinformation given to deceive the international opinion”. Today his beloved Kivu suffers a cruel invasion inflicted by the extremist dictatorships of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The situation in this region caused by the lobbies lead by Museveni, Kagame, Buyoya or Bagaza is morally and politically untenable. With such excluding extremists it will be impossible to achieve the necessary stability to be able to have the commercial interchange with this African region that the American administration, the World Bank and some big corporations seek to have. To achieve the necessary and fare stability that the suffering civilians of these countries deserve, more than anything, is a process, similar to the one in South Africa, to start again without delay in this region. The ethnic apartheid is even more cruel than the racial one and the international community cannot accept it. The great Hutu majority of this region should not be excluded. I wish we finally would be able to work together to find ways of a just and stable peace.
As a step further towards this noble goal I accept today this award even though I do not see myself as worthy as the previous awarded but, I will accept in the name of the victims whose voice I represent. Thank you very much to everyone for listening to me. Thank you to The Peace Abbey for they extremely valuable support for such a right, urgent and important cause.