José Marti Prize for Frei Betto
Frei Betto...Brazilian friar, born Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo on August 25, 1944, has been chosen as the winner of the UNESCO/José Martí Prize, 2013 for "his exceptional contribution to building a universal culture of peace, social justice and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean", according to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
Frei Betto, (Friar Betto) is a Dominican Friar, Brazilian, son of the journalist Antônio Carlos Vieira Christo and the writer Maria Stella Libanio Christo. Frei Betto is one of the exponents of Liberation Theology and was a key player in the Government of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from 2003 to 2004, as Coordinator of the Social Mobilization Project in the Zero Hunger Programme.
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, stated that Frei Betto was chosen for the award because of his "exceptional contribution to building a universal culture of peace, social justice and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean" after his nomination by an international jury. The José Marti Prize will be awarded in Havana, Cuba, on January 30 during the Third International Conference on World Balance (28 to 30 January), celebrating the 160th anniversary of José Martí's birth.
Frei Betto was imprisoned by the Fascist Brazilian dictatorship twice, in 1964 and from 1969 to 1973, periods which created his books "Cartas da Prisão" - Letters from Prison - (Agir); "Dário de Fernando - nos cárceres da ditadura militar brasileira" - In the prisons of the Brazilian military dictatorship - (Rocco) and Batismo de Sangue - Baptism of Blood (Rocco). In these books he describes how the Dominican Friars resisted the dictatorship and torture. In total he has written over 50 books.
Frei Betto has been a constant defender of human rights, and has advised several socialist governments in relations between the Catholic Church and the State. UNESCO recognizes his work as follows: "The laureate was selected in recognition of his work as an educator, writer, and theologian; his opposition to all forms of discrimination, injustice and exclusion; and his promotion of a culture of peace and human rights".
UNESCO: José Martí Prize
"The UNESCO International José Martí Prize was created in November 1994 by the Executive Board of UNESCO at the initiative of the Government of Cuba. The Prize rewards outstanding contributions by organizations and individuals to the cause of Latin American and Caribbean unity and integration based on respect for cultural traditions and humanist values. The Prize was also established to raise awareness of equity and human rights, particularly among decision-makers".