"A New World Wants to be Born"

Martin Almada, recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize from Paraguay, in Tamera

"There is an old system that is not ready to die, and there is a new system that can not be born. Tamera can help the old system to finally end and a new one to be born," said Martin Almada, 74, the Paraguayan activist for solar energy and human rights and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, during his trip to Europe at the peace research project Tamera at the end of January. The attorney knows from experience how quickly one can become a public enemy. As a socially and culturally engaged school director, he was tortured by the military dictatorship of his country, convicted as an "intellectual terrorist" and imprisoned.

Amnesty International was able to bring about his release in 1974. His wife, however, died under the psychological terror of the dictatorship. In 15 years of exile, he worked incessantly for justice and the end of the human rights violations in South America. He revealed that his fate was part of a well-organized, secret and illegal cooperation of the military dictatorships of Latin America: the "Operation Condor."

After the fall of the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay 1989, he returned, and in 1992, he discovered the "archives of terror" in a police station. These archives consisted of three tons of files, which meticulously listed the abuses of three decades of dictatorship. Among them was evidence of Operation Condor: Since 1974, the military of six Latin American countries, under the leadership of the Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet and the U.S. Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger, shared the data of subversive elements and systematically eliminated the leftists and intellectuals of their countries. Through Operation Condor, between 1975 and 1985, 100,000 doctors, teachers, union leaders and social workers had been killed, tortured and made to disappear.

Martin Almada warns: "The Condor still flies. Condor II was founded in 1997 at the Conference of American Armies. It now includes 20 countries. The central person is a commander of the Peruvian armed forces."

All liberal governments in South America are intimidated by the military cooperation, said Almada. "The current Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo fears he will suffer the same fate as the Honduran President Manuel Zelaya who was deposed by the military."

This is the reason why the dictator's son was able to return to Paraguay in January 2011 uncharged. "I blame Gustavo Stroessner Mora for human rights violations as a colonel of the Air Force and for having been the banker of Operation Condor," says Almada. All charges against Stroessner were dropped in 2009. Impunity is a system in many Latin American countries to institutionalize paramilitary and corporational violence. The Stroessner family had remained one of the richest families in the country.

Martin Almada also learns how the world's dominating powers protect themselves against resistance and alternatives from his second activity as a promotor for solar energy. "I discovered that the poverty of my country is not ending and that settlements of Indians and peasants will never be independent, unless they produce their own energy." As a model project he founded, with 200 Indian families, a first solar village in Asuncion, which produces no emissions and uses no fossil energy, and a paper mill that functions solely with solar energy. His plan is to turn the former dictator's palace into a popular University of Human Rights and solar energy, with the help of his foundation Fundación Celestina Pérez de Almada.

During his visit to Europe, he also visited the SolarVillage of Tamera in Portugal. "Here, a dream has become reality," he said in the 1995 founded Peace Research Centre. He was especially impressed by the revolutionary research work on water autonomy and community.

"Self-sufficiency and solidarity - central themes of Tamera - are the two central issues of our time. To work seriously on solutions is an act against the interests of the world banks. This is why projects like Tamera need international protection."