His full name is Alfredo Daniel Delgado Salaverri.
While still in law school, this 24-year old Uruguayan was a member of the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes October 13, 1972, which eventually forced him and other survivors to resort to cannibalism. His 23-year old law school classmate, Gastón Costemalle did not survive the initial crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571.
In his acclaimed book about the survival adventure, Piers Paul Read writes of Pancho Delgado as a then-law student who "hobbled around .. on one good leg" and initially encouraged the others that help would soon be on its way. He shared his relative health to keep others warm after an avalanche hit the plane wreck.
But Delgado's initial optimism ended up working against him as he was resented by the other survivors when, with the passage of time, it became clear that rescue was not coming. Looking for someone to blame, they chose Delgado because, they reasoned with their famished minds, he had discouraged initial thoughts of self-help and had delayed or perhaps even prevented their ultimate salvation.
Isolated by his colleagues on the Andes glacier, Delgado was suspected by many of stealing more than his portion of the human flesh they were sharing to stay alive. Even his best friends were afraid to be seen to be his supporter.
Once rescued, on December 28, the international press sought of the survivors an explanation as to why they had resorted to eating the flesh of their deceased friends and families.
The survivors and the world press turned to the articulate Delgado. His words of profound Christian wisdom humbled the world:
"The Bible tells us that at the Last Supper, Jesus shared his body and his blood with his disciples.
"At that time, we felt that if God existed, and if He was near us, our only chance of survival was to share that same kind of communion that he (Jesus) had shared with his disciples: to take the body and the blood.
"We also made a pact in the group that if anyone died, we could use his body in order to survive."
A quiet man who has not sought the limelight as other survivors have (such as Nando Perrado), Delgado recovered from the crash, albeit with a limp. He went on to a long career as a title attorney, known in Uruguay (a civil law jurisdiction), as a notary; somewhat akin to the common law solicitor.
Delgado resides in Carrasco, Uruguay where he is a prominent jurist. He is married and has two sons.
The ultimate hero was Parrado, who left the wreckage and risked hypothermia and death to finally arrive at the base of the mountains and rescue. In his book Miracle on the Andes, Parrado says that Delgado did not deserve Read's portrayal of Delgado as a:
"... a manipulative and dishonest character, who schemed behind our backs to increase his own comfort...
"Pancho did these things, but in fact, so did we all. It is not right that Pancho has been singled out like this and has to be burdened with this unfair reputation."
- The Andes Accident
- Alive (1993), Paramount Pictures
- Duhaime, Lloyd, Celebrity Lawyers
- Duhaime, Lloyd, LawFun
- Duhaime, Lloyd, LawMuseum
- Duhaime, Lloyd, The Law's Hall of Fame
- Duhaime, Lloyd, The Law's Hall of Shame
- Parrado, Nando, Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006)
- Read, Piers Paul, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors (Philadelphia: Lippincott Company, 1974).