Lech Wałęsa

Born Sep 29, 1943

Lech Wałęsa is a Polish statesman, dissident, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who served as the President of Poland between 1990 and 1995. After winning the 1990 election, Wałęsa became the first democratically elected President of Poland since 1926 and the first-ever Polish President elected in popular vote. A shipyard electrician by trade, Wałęsa became the leader of the Solidarity movement, and led a successful pro-democratic effort which in 1989 ended the Communist rule in Poland and ushered in the end of the Cold War.
While working at the Lenin Shipyard, Wałęsa, an electrician, became a trade-union activist, for which he was persecuted by the Communist authorities, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980, he was instrumental in political negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government. He co-founded the Solidarity trade-union whose membership rose to over ten million people.
After martial law in Poland was imposed and Solidarity was outlawed, Wałęsa was again arrested.
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“I'm lazy. But it's the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn't like walking or carrying things.”

Lech Wałęsa
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