HM King Juan Carlos awarded last week the King of Spain Human Rights Prize to the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights, (CLADEM), at a ceremony where he called for an end to violence against women and for education and employment accessible to all.
The monarch, accompanied by Queen Sofia, expressed these sentiments at the auditorium of the University of Alcala de Henares near Madrid, during the ceremony awarding this biennial prize with its cash award of 30,000 euros ($40,000). The prize is designed to honor organizations that have distinguished themselves in the defense and promotion of human rights and democratic values in Latin America.
In his address, the king said that to assure equality and decent living conditions for women we must „eradicate the domestic violence so many women suffer; eradicate poverty, hunger and disease and ensure their full access to education and employment“.
„I hope that this prize“, he said, „will go some way towards achieving a fairer life for all citizens of Latin America“. He added that rights and freedom are „by their very definition a rejection of violence and zero-tolerance for the hateful curse of terrorism“.
According to the King, this prize recognizes „the sum of efforts being made in Latin American communities to establish fundamental rights and liberties, as well as a greater social and economic development“.
CLADEM, which was the unanimous choice of the jurors, is a non-profit making organization operating in Latin America and the Caribbean, which coordinates an extensive network of regional organizations and individuals committed to defending these rights. It was founded in 1987 in San José in Costa Rica, has its headquarters in Lima and currently operates in 17 different countries in the region.
CLADEM coordinator Norma Enriquez expressed her gratitude for the award because it acknowledges the role of defenders of human rights who, she said, often meet with „bludgeoning power exercised by rulers who consider that whoever defends human rights, demands they be respected or complains when they are violated are enemies of the state.“
Enriquez explained that one of the initial goals of CLADEM when it was founded twenty years ago was to achieve laws against domestic violence. In less than ten years almost every Latin American country had one as a result.