A picture of the late former Czech President Vaclav Havel is seen among lit candles placed in tribute to him at Wenceslas Square in Prague December 22, 2011. Havel, an anti-Communist playwright who became Czech president and a worldwide symbol of peace and freedom after leading the bloodless “Velvet Revolution”, died at the age of 75 on Sunday. (Reuters/David W Cerny)
Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) was a Czech playwright, essayist, dissident and politician. He was the tenth and last President of Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1993–2003). He wrote over twenty plays and numerous non-fiction works, translated internationally.
Beginning in the 1960s, Havel’s work turned to focus on the politics of Czechoslovakia. After the Prague Spring, he became increasingly active. In 1977, his involvement with the human rights manifesto Charter 77 brought him international fame as the leader of the opposition in Czechoslovakia; it also led to his imprisonment. His political activities resulted in multiple stays in prison, the longest being four years under the communist regime. The 1989 “Velvet Revolution” launched Havel into the presidency. In this role he led Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic to multi-party democracy.
Left to Right: Jose Maria Aznar, Vaclav Havel and Natan Sharansky. These three leaders organized the Democracy and Security Conference in Prague, Czech Republic in 2007. I was fortunate enough to attend this historic conference.
In 2010 Vaclav Havel, was snubbed by Barack Obama during the nuclear summit. Havel was excluded from the signing ceremony where Russia and the U.S. took steps toward world peace.
Vaclav Havel – Rest in Peace
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