Alfonso García Robles

Activist Type

Alfonso García Robles was a Mexican diplomat and foreign minister who was posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982, alongside Sweden’s Alva Myrdal, for his work in the field of nuclear disarmament. 

García Robles was born in Zamora, Michoacán, and as a young man considered the priesthood before pursuing studies in law via the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Institute of Higher International Studies in Paris, France and the Hague Academy of International Law in the Netherlands. Upon completion of his studies, Alfonso would embark on a lengthy career within Mexico’s civil and foreign service in the role of delegate, ambassador, state secretary to the ministry of foreign affairs, UN representative and eventually Mexico’s foreign minister.

The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 had a profound impact on García Robles who responded by taking up nuclear disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as his personal mission. His initial campaign for a nuclear-free zone was met with indifference from the region, however Alfonso’s persistence eventually won out when when 22 nations signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco agreeing to disarm in 1967. García Robles was later appointed as Mexico’s permanent representative to the Committee on Disarmament of the UN where he became known as “Mr. Disarmament”. 

García Robles’ legacy and influence continued to extended well beyond his passing in 1991, when just four years later Cuba, a perpetual opponent to the treaty, finally signed and in doing so completed the signature and ratification by all 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Artwork by
Richard Perez

This portrait of Alfonso García Robles is inspired by the Mexican folk art tradition of papel picado. An art form that consist of hand cutting intricate patterns into stacks of multicolored tissue paper, then hanging the artwork for display. A festive art papel picado is usually made for holidays like Día de los Muertos or for special events such as a quinceañera or wedding. The piece incorporates some of the common motifs to papel picado flowers and birds alongside the profile of Robles.


Mexico Flag
Mexico City
September 16, 1810
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