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LECH WALESA
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former President of Poland Lech Walesa speaks to the media attending the Sept. 28, 2005 ceremonial ribbon cutting for the outdoor exhibit in New York's Union Square Park "Poland on the Front Page" which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the birth of the Solidarity Movement in Poland. (UPI Photo/Ezio Petersen)
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Lech Wałęsa (Polish: Lech Wałęsa) (Polish:  ( listen), English: /ˌlɛk vəˈwɛnsə/ or /wɔːˈlɛnsə/; born 29 September 1943) is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity (Solidarność), the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland 1990–95.

Wałęsa was an electrician by trade, with no higher. Soon after beginning work at the Gdańsk (then, "Lenin") Shipyards, he became a trade-union activist. For this he was persecuted by the Polish communist government, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980 he was instrumental in negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government, and he became a co-founder of the Solidarity trade-union movement. Arrested again after martial law was imposed and Solidarity was outlawed, upon release he continued his activism and was prominent in the establishment of the 1989 Round Table Agreement that led to semi-free parliamentary elections in June 1989 and to a Solidarity-led government.

In 1990 he successfully ran for the newly re-established office of President of Poland. He presided over Poland's transformation from a communist to a post-communist state, but his popularity waned. After he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election, his role in Polish politics was diminished. His international fame remains, however, and he speaks and lectures in Poland and abroad on history and politics.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lech Walesa."
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