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Legacy of a Nonviolent Political Leader: Governor Guillermo Gaviria of Colombia
an article by Glenn D. Paige

The killing of Antioquia state Governor Guillermo Gaviria Correa on May 5, 2003, among ten hostages massacred by FARC guerrillas in response to an unwanted military rescue attempt, deprived the world of a nonviolent political leader whose legacy is no less significant than those of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

He was kidnapped on April 21, 2002 near the end of an 85-mile, 5-day, 1000-person nonviolent March of Reconciliation from Medellin to the mountain coffee growing town of Caicedo in FARC-held territory. He had ordered the police and army not to protect the March and not to attempt rescue or retaliation if he were kidnapped or killed. His wife Yolanda Pinto de Gaviria marched with him, supported his decisions, and courageously carried on after he was kidnapped and killed.

Gaviria's dynamic governorship (2000-2003) was profoundly rooted in his Christian faith, strengthened by serious study of Gandhian and Kingian nonviolence. He explained, "Nonviolence was born with Jesus Christ; it was followed in the past century by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and in this century it will be the light to guide the people of Antioquia."

He understood that Colombia's violence was caused by "imbalanced" political and socioeconomic conditions and advocated participatory nonviolence to bring about needed change. "Nonviolence is more than simply no aggression and is more than putting an end to terrorist attacks, kidnappings, threats, and blackmail. Nonviolence aims to break silence and rise up out of passiveness to build a blanced society of justice and social well-being."

Governor Gaviria's unique legacy is that a democratically elected political leader can courageously work for nonviolent social justice from the "top down." It is no less important than the courageous legacies of Gandhi and King seeking freedom and justice from the "bottom up." The convergence of these legacies is the best hope of creating conditions and cultures of peace and nonviolence throughout the world.

On January 29, 2003, Governor Guillermo Gaviria and First Lady Yolanda Pinto de Gaviria were co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.

For more information on Gaviria's nonviolence see colombia-noviolencia. Glenn D. Paige is the author of Nonkilling Global Political Science (Xlibris 2002) and is president of the Center for Global Nonviolence.

Glenn has provided us with the last letter from Governor Gaviria to his father, which is an eloquent testimony to faith in nonviolence. Click here to read it.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Are nonkilling societies possible?, If yes, what should we be doing? If not, what will happen to us?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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LATEST READER COMMENT:

Promoting Communication Literacy through Principles of Compassion for a Nonviolent Planet

by Vedabhyas Kundu

At a time when there are conflicts at different level around the world, promoting COMMUNICATION LITERACY through principles of compassion is a necessity so as to bring people together and collectively work for global peace.

Compassion and feelings for others are essential ingredients for human unity. Swami Vivekananda had said, “Do you feel for others? If you do, you are growing in oneness. If you do not feel for others, you may be the most intellectual giant ever born, but you will be nothing; you are but dry intellect, and you will remain so.”

Indeed in today’s contemporary society when there are so much of differences and intolerance, if we can’t promote feeling and compassion for others, we cannot promote oneness amongst one another. There seems to be crisis of values and little respect for each other’s ideas and perspective. For a large number of people, the self seems to be the supreme and are agnostic about the feelings of others. Anger and hatred towards each other seems to be found in abundance. All these will lead to greater conflicts and ill feelings amongst fellow beings. Swami Vivekananda pertinently underlines that howsoever one may acquire intellectual power, without compassion for others, one is nothing. . ...more.


This report was posted on August 14, 2003.