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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Speech by HRH the Prince of Asturias during the ceremony at the 1994 Prince of Asturias Awards

The dereliction, coercion, and violence that is still exerted upon children in certain parts of our planet indicate a degree of abjection that we would never wish to see again among human beings.

It is for me a moving and happy experience to be back once again in the Principality of Asturias and the city of Oviedo -a welcoming setting for the most splendid adventures of creation and intelligence- to present the awards that bear my name.

The emotion we experience during the present ceremony springs from the most intimate recess of the highest human sentiment, for those who have received our awards have replaced discord with harmony, despair with hope, darkness with science, despondency with enthusiasm. Other have led us with their imagination and art to the wonderful world of beauty, or dazzled us with their prowess in the field of sports.

Of all of them it may be always said, as in that moving line of verse, that their heart has not beaten in vain.

I deeply thank the juries that have elected the award-winners for the demanding efforts with which they have carried out their delicate task, and the sensitivity invested in capturing the spirit and goals of our awards.

At this hour of gratitude, I wish to mention once again all of those who contributed decisively to the engrandizement of the Foundation: its patrons and the authorities of the Principality, in particular its President and the Mayor of this town. I am convinced that we may continue to rely on their help to confront the new challenges that our institutions shall have to face in coming years.

My thanks also to the media, who are so often the vehicle of encouragement for the highest achievements of our society. Their generous and efficient dedication helps us to spread the message of our awards.

Aurelio Menéndez, Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences, is a fit heir to tradition of the University of Oviedo, where during the transition between the present century and the last, a group of illustrious professors advocated and achieved a renovation of the academic world and an extremely fruitful presence in Spanish society, for they dreamt for Spain a University that should be guided by merit, innovation and openness.

The work of professor Menéndez as a master of Merchant Law has been extraordinary; without it, and its permanent defence of human rights, it would not be possible to explain the progress and renovation obtained in the field.

Circumstance also has it that he was an efficient coordinator and guide of my university studies. In thanking him publicly for his advice, and for his generous dedication to perfecting my training, I wish to remember with particular fondness and gratitude, now that I am in the final stretch of my studies, all my teachers and professors.

They have inspired me with the love for knowledge and beauty, kindness and tolerance, justice and the creative spirit of freedom. They also taught me that the advancement of learning is what matter most; that is to say, the progress of culture, the trace that learning leaves upon the spirit through continued study and training.

From his deep conviction that developing countries must face, often unaided, their own problems, doctor Manuel Elkin Patarroyo, Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, was able, with the barest means and together with a devoted and enthusiastic team of co-workers, to develop a synthetic vaccine that is revolutionizing the struggle against malaria.

Proof of the magnitude and importance of his discovery is to be found in the most recent data published by the World Health Organization, in accordance with which malaria affects between 200 and 400 million people, including three million children, most of them under five years of age, who die every year as a direct consequence of infection. The efficient and economic vaccine developed by doctor Patarroyo and his team is struggling against this tragedy.

These researchers thus become a model of disinterested and generous dedication to Humanity, honouring the classical Greek statement that it is desirable to seek one´s good, but much more beautiful and lofty to seek the common good. The admiration that this magnificent work awakens in the whole world, and in his country in particular, was reflected in the generous comment of doctor Patarroyo´s countryman, Nobel Prize-Winner Gabriel García Márquez, whose presence here this evening is a honour to us all. Upon hearing the news, he said that doctor Patarroyo´s award was the most justly deserved in Colombian history.

Alicia de Larrocha, Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts, is the model of an artist wholly devoted to the service of her art, and by logical inclusion, to the service of human culture and spirituality. Her life is as discreet as her great pianist´s fame is universal. The standard of modesty that goes with each of her actions and expression lives alongside one of the longest and most solid reputations of contemporary musical interpretation. Besought by the most widely varied audiences, the travelling nature of her existence forever flows back towards her Spanish roots. From these, an undisputed mistress of her art, she has offered inspiration and schooling through her personal review of classical and romantic European composers. For more than fifty years her fellow country-folk have enjoyed that superior art, taking particular pleasure form its unequivocal Spanish substance and the naturalness with which she attracts the devotion of audiences around the world.

It is in this universality that Alicia de Larrocha clearly reflects what is best in our most beloved Cataluña, which its great poet Joan Maragall saw as a daughter of the mountains and the sea, of a shepherd and a mermaid, in a Spain whose different tunes are brought together in one single song.

A group of missionaries -apostles and witnesses of the faith- in Rwanda and Burundi have stirred the most generous and moving current of solidarity to be known for many years.

At this hour they represent a kind of disinterested and perilous humanism that is sometimes, in desolation, deemed forever lost. Their belaboured life of sharing what they have with those who have nothing teaches us that a world guided by the prime force of solidarity is indeed possible. They have been elected for the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.

From her humble hospital in Kibuye, in the very heart of Africa, the anguished and courageous voice of a missionary sister, Pilar Díez Espelosín, broadcast live on the telephone wire and over the radio, alerted the world in the early mornings of April this year about the genocide that was taking place in Rwanda, refreshing once again the warning of writer Albert Camus that there is no longer one single moment of isolated suffering, one single instance of torture in this world, that does not affect our daily lives.

Racial fanaticism, which is at the bottom of the Rwanda tragedy, together with ideological fanaticism, both religious and derived from extremist nationalism, are covering wide areas of our planet with the blemish of war. The outcome of such conflict is distressing: it brings death to thousands of innocent victims, while at the same time impeding the valuable and enriching diversity of cultures and the legitimate defence of the identities of peoples, that may flourish only within the framework of peaceful co- existence, when differences are brought together by concord and opposing ideas by tolerance.

This award wishes to recognize, at the same time, the immense task performed throughout the world by so many missionaries who, through the fortitude of their faith, their compassion and the joy of doing well, are prepared to live and even die for others, as recently proved by two sisters, Esther Paniagua Alonso, and María Alvarez Martín, murdered in Algeria.

Our missionaries bring us the consolation that we shall never be alone in our struggle against deprivation, social inequality, ignorance, disease or fear.

Their testimony of sacrifice, austerity and poverty also serves as a reminder that wealth is not an end in itself; it must be subordinated to higher and more solidary principles, it must be firmly committed to the struggle against social ills that fill us with anguish and sorrow, such as unemployment.

The Jury has justly mentioned the immense and dedicated world of lay volunteers in the missions. Some of them already received our recognition in 1992, by being elected for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, together with Médicos sin Fronteras and Medicus Mundi.

A writer, a master and inventor of new roads, a cosmopolitan creator offering lyrical testimony of the world, Carlos Fuentes, is this year´s Prince of Asturias Award for Letters. His prose is permeable to the most widely varied themes. In it, races, social commotions, freedoms, powers, and always the fertile and complex realities of his own country, Mexico, transcend the page in their determination to become a vehicle for cohesion between the cultures on both sides of the Atlantic. Already regarded as a classic, his work is one of the most innovative and dazzling of our times.

Fuentes has expanded the meaning of our language in his great novels. The most vivid experiences are evoked and reconstructed in his pages. Experiences that subsequently come together admirably, sometimes monumentally, thanks to the author´s extraordinary verbal wealth, and its dimensions. All this expressed uniquely in a language that brings together so many nations, within the mysterious and endearing fraternity that springs from calling the same things by the same names from childhood.

Carlos Fuentes has also spoken on equal terms with our Miguel de Cervantes, and made his the honesty and determination of that immortal character, Don Quijote. Like the early- rising and audacious nobleman, he does not flinch from commitment to times or events where justice, liberty and the dignity of human beings may be at risk.

Few social phenomena have acquired the significance and scope of sport. The following, and especially the practice, of sport by young people is a peaceful and safe means of occupying time, in contrast with other social trends that often carry with them emptiness, dispersion or danger.

We the young today seek and find in sport an ideal compliment to our lives. It is therefore a great satisfaction that the Prince of Asturias Awards recognize the best international examples in the field.

Distinction this year comes to a sport - tennis- whose individual character and highly demanding requirements represent the very limits of human effort and will, as symbolized in the figure and professional career of Martina Navratilova, Prince of Asturias Award for Sports for 1994. It is quite possible that the Greek poet was referring to her tenacious nature when, in praise of one of the ancient champions, attributed success to "the effort of always adapting the spirit to the vicissitudes of Fortune". The trials and difficulties that she had to overcome, her charisma, her strong personality, her altruism, have all made of this sportswoman a living myth.

Current affairs and last-minute news items might lead us to believe that human tragedy, and in particular when it affects children, is limited to episodes such as those taking place in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, we know this is not so, and it is therefore highly significant that the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord this year remembers other children that also suffer and experience deprivation in other parts of the planet. Children that have deserved the attention and dedication of non-governmental organizations such as the Save the Children Fund, the Movimiento Nacional dos Meninos e Meninas de Rua, and Mensajeros de la Paz. The award acknowledges their fight against the deprivation and pain of the innocent, thereby expanding the human and moral interest and attention that we wish to invest these prizes with.

The dereliction, coercion, and violence that is still exerted upon children in certain parts of our planet indicate a degree of abjection that we would never wish to see again among human beings. This devotion to children, this disinterested and generous devotion of the organizations that have been elected for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, also brings hope for a better world, a more just world, and above all a less sorrowful world.

A proverb of Sepharad -the Spain that elected to a scenario for harmonious co-existence between Arabs, Jews and Christians-, referring to austerity and prudence, tells us that the strongest flower is born, grows and lives in the shade. Thus the olive-tree of peace has been discreetly sown by these two exceptional men to whom we are paying tribute today by presenting them with the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. These are the President of the National Palestine Authority, Yaser Arafat, and the Prime Minister of Israel, Isaac Rabin, two historic personalities that have been courageous enough to traverse the desert of war in order to arrive at the promised land of peace.

I believe in the sun, although it might not shine.
I believe in love, although I might not feel it.
I believe in God, although I might not see Him.

With the same degree of hope and faith that these luminous lines were written on a wall of the Warsaw ghetto in tragic moments for the Jewish people, we make a vow that the peace of the brave, signed by President Arafat and Prime Minister Isaac Rabin may succeed. The first step towards this initiative before the international community was taken in our country, in 1991, during the International Conference for Peace in the Middle East, held in Madrid. A decisive and revolutionary step -in the words of His Majesty the King during his address to the Parliament of Israel-, since for the first time the language of confrontation was dispensed with, and a move towards the negotiated solution of problems was adopted.

President, Prime Minister: we are aware of the enormous difficulties facing the recently initiated peace process, for while bidding a definite farewell to arms and conquering harmony, it is urgent to activate cooperation and aid for the material reconstruction of the entire territory of Palestine, in order that all the men and women living in the Middle East may witness a transformation of their faith and their hopes, together the International Community, into a firm commitment to the future; in order that they may trust the process of Peace and Cooperation as the best way to serve their desires for welfare and progress.

It is therefore our wish, from the bottom of our heart, that in all the homes of your countries, so dearly loved by the people of Spain, this most beautiful prayer becomes a reality:"... And will wipe all tears from their eyes, for there will be death nor tears no longer, nor cries, nor toil, for the old world is past".

Shalom. Salam. Peace. Thank you very much.

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