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The Bartolomé de las Casas Award

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This award was created in 1991 by the Spain's Secretary of State for the International Cooperation and the Casa de América and is given every year to people who have distinguished themselves in the work for the understanding and the harmony with indigenous people, the protection of their rights and the respect of their values.

Father Melià received this award for his "strong and unshakable defence of the Aché population, his work as a defender of the Guaraní through many publications and the contribution to the education of the indigenous people." Bartomeu Melià has embraced the cause of the Guaraní populations since the 1950s.

He arrived in Paraguay in 1954 with the enthusiasm of the old missionaries and stayed there until he was expelled in 1977. He came back to Paraguay in 1989 after the régime had fallen down and continued his defence for the indigenous.

"To know a Guaraní you have to walk in the forest with him, sleep on the ground and learn how to drink mate when the sun rises, feelings that are lost in modern societies," said Fr. Melià during the prize-giving ceremony, and continued: "To learn a language you have to practice the virtue of listening. You cannot learn if you don't listen."

Digital News Service SJ
Vol. XV, n. 18 | 5 October 2011

Published: October 11, 2011

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