José "Chencho" Alas
President and Executive Director, Foundation for Sustainability and Peacemaking in Mesoameric
José Inocencio "Chencho" Alas is a community organizer and former priest from El- Salvador. The director of the Foundation for Sustainability and Peacemaking in Mesoamerica, "Chencho"- as he is fondly known – also established the Foundation for Self Sufficiency in Central America. He was a friend of Archbishop Óscar Romero, he played an important role in advocating for peasant rights, and still works for the absolution of violence, poverty and hunger in El Salvador. Throughout his career, "Chencho" was faced with hardships and opposition from landlords, while garnering support across the countryside of different Central American countries. He was the target of multiple attacks against him, ranging from kidnapping to bombings, as his nonviolent activism was shaking the status quo. Today, he lives between El Salvador and Texas, and works on the causes of conflicts across borders and the implementation of peacebuilding on a more holisitic and geopolitical scale. "Chencho" has won many awards, including the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award in 1990, the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding Peace Activist Award in 2000, the Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America’s Don Antonio Amaya Award and Catholic Digest's Twelve Catholic Heroes for America and the World in 2007.