Hugo Pesce

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Hugo Pesce

Hugo Pesce (17 June 1900 – 26 July 1969[1]) was a Peruvian physician and left-wing activist.

Medical work[edit]

Pesce was born in Tarma, and studied medicine at the University of Genoa in Italy.[1] He first practiced in rural parts of the Peruvian Andes, where he was radicalised by his experiences of the debilitating effects of poverty.[1] He later specialised in treatment of leprosy.[1] He and other Latin Americans disagreed with the recommendations of the 1938 World Leprosy Congress in Cairo, and agreed a different process in Três Corações, which Pesce implemented successfully at Andahuaylas in 1938 and the Apurímac Region in 1940. The 1948 World Leprosy Congress in Havana endorsed the Latin-American strategy; Pesce was later a member of the World Health Organization's expert committee on the disease.[1] In 1945 he joined the faculty of the National University of San Marcos, where he was professor of tropical medicine from 1953 till his retirement in 1967.[1] In 2002, Pesce was among four individuals and two groups named as "Heroes of public health in Peru".[1]

Political activism[edit]

Pesce joined the Peruvian Communist Party founded in 1928 by José Carlos Mariátegui.[2] In 1929, Pesce and Julio Portocarrero were unsuccessful in promoting Mariátegui's ideas in Buenos Aires at a convention of Latin American communists. Che Guevara recounts in The Motorcycle Diaries that he first read Marx in 1951 while working in Pesce's leprosarium.[3] In the film version, Pesce was played by Gustavo Bueno. Pesce was also a writer and polemicist, and became Vice-President of the Peruvian Association of Writers and Artists.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Burstein, Zuño (July–September 2003). "Hugo Pesce Pesceto". Revista Peruana de medicina experimental y salud pública (in Spanish). 20 (3): 172–173. ISSN 1726-4634. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  2. ^ Caballero, Manuel (2002-06-30). "José Carlos Mariátegui". Latin America and the Comintern, 1919-1943. Cambridge University Press. pp. 159–160. ISBN 978-0-521-52331-8. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  3. ^ Guevara, Ernesto (1996). The motorcycle diaries: a journey around South America. Verso. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-85984-066-5. Retrieved 30 July 2010.