Onécimo Hidalgo Domínguez
Fellow Since 1998
This profile was prepared when Onécimo Hidalgo Domínguez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Onecimo Hidalgo is convinced that the conflict in the Mexican state of Chiapas, as well as similar confrontations across the region, could be brought to an end if local people would engage in dialogue based on tolerance and mutual respect. He focuses on the concept of compromise among the many parties to the conflict. The most noteworthy aspect of his work is that Onecimo has succeeded in generating discussions about the common problems of diverse groups, as opposed to simply gathering together factions of people that already agree amongst themselves.This entrepreneur, building on his wide ecumenical education and his great confidence, risks his life contacting the bases of support for paramilitary groups in Chiapas to bring about dialogue. Onecimo believes that the construction of peace is not only a challenge to be left to people of influence and power. It requires change, imagination, and confidence from the citizens, which translate into participation, rather than an indifferent attitude which simply expects leaders and outsiders to broker pacts. The importance of Onecimo's work, both in Chiapas and as an example for others, can be put in context by Jose Saramago, the Portuguese writer who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature. He has said that "In its essence, Chiapas represents the world, because it is a place where practically everything that is negative in human behavior can be found, including racism, cruelty, indifference, and discrimination against a minority."