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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Government of Guatemala and Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 1997

The Peace Commission, created by the Government of Guatemala and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG), signed the "Firm and Lasting Peace Agreement" on 29 December 1996, which put an end to the hostilities that devastated the country, claiming between 100,000 and 150,000 lives and causing more than a million refugees.

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Since 1986, the year in which the Central American presidents signed the declaration in Esquipulas (Guatemala) designed to achieve peace in the region, there have been many agreements and negotiation attempts which have sought to bring an end to the conflict. Finally, in the text signed in December 96, the Government of Guatemala bound itself to present Congress with a project for a National Reconciliation law "inclined to promote a culture of harmony and mutual respect which would eliminate any form of retaliation or revenge" and to create a commission focused on uncovering past human rights violations.

The process that is still underway attempts to integrate the members of the URNG into society while guaranteeing their civil liberties. Toward this end, both sides have committed themselves to create a climate of openness, tolerance, and plurality.

On behalf of the Peace Commission from the Guatemalan Government -presided over by Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen- the agreement was ratified by the sociologist Gustavo Porras, and on behalf of the URNG, Jorge Soto (alias Pablo Monsanto), Ricardo Ramírez (Rolando Morán), Ricardo Rosales (Carlos González), and Jorge Rosal in representation of Rodrigo Asturias (Gaspar Ilom). Present at the ratification ceremony were the President of the Spanish Government, José María Aznar, as well as the presidents from Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela.

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