This year’s Aachen Peace Prize goes to the Brazilian organization Centro Gaspar Garcia. The activist Benedito Barbosa takes it.
BERLIN taz | For years he has been campaigning against the displacement of communities and villages, and now he is being honored for this: the Brazilian lawyer and activist Benedito Barbosa receives this year’s Aachen Peace Prize for his organization Centro Gaspar Garcia (CGC).
Under the presidency of right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro, the problem of eviction in Brazil had recently worsened: traditional and indigenous communities have to give way to soy fields, highways and gigantic mining facilities. Even in large cities, people are forcibly evicted from their homes.
This particularly applies to those with no or very low income in the so-called favelas, the slums of the Brazilian metropolises. Where there are corrugated iron roofs, construction plans are sometimes enforced by force. In São Paulo in particular, the disparity between prosperity in the center and extreme poverty in the periphery is growing steadily.
Barbosa, nicknamed “Ditto”, is a member of the human rights organization Centro Gaspar Garcia (CGC) in São Paolo. The organization provides legal support when it comes to enforcing rights to stay or fighting for land titles. The award is presented to Barbosa on behalf of the organization. Given the tense situation under Bolsonaro, the news should have been all the more gratifying. As an Afro-Brazilian, Barbosa also belongs to a marginalized group in Brazil. He is also a social worker and particularly looks after people who do informal work.
Organization wants to fight for social inclusion
In the past few years, the Center CGC has saved around 13,000 people in precarious living conditions from forced displacement, praises the Aachen Peace Prize Foundation. The organization also offered social psychological support to 500 homeless people and provides a contact point for almost 2,000 street vendors, especially women. In addition, CGC sensitizes public decision-makers to the concerns of precarious residents.
The Centro Gaspar Garcia was founded in 1988. “Poverty was not recognized in its socio-political dimension by the public organizations”, it says on the website of the organization on the founding history. The problem continues to this day. According to its own statements, the organization therefore wants to fight for “social inclusion”. The namesake of the human rights organization, Gaspar Garcia, was a priest in the Order of the Missionaries of Sacred Hearts (MSC).
The other winner of the Aachen Peace Prize also belongs to a Christian organization: Antoine Exelmans is a Catholic priest from the French city of Rennes. He helps refugees on the border between Morocco and Algeria.
The Aachen Peace Prize is endowed with 2,000 euros and will be awarded on December 10th.
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