Category Archives: DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION

Mexico: National Forum for a Culture of Peace

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A press release from Club Juridico (translation by CPNN)

During the “National Forum for a Culture of Peace”, the deputy Sergio Mayer Bretón, president of the Commission of Culture and Cinematography, called upon us to return to the sense of belonging, to erase the barriers and consolidate a single identity as a multicultural nation, without prejudices or stereotypes, because “There is only one Mexican, not five, or first.”

He called for working together to promote real change, so that Mexico beomes a better place to live in dignity, not a death sentence for those born in poverty. To achieve this, the culture of peace must be guaranteed in an integral manner.

He called upon Mexicans to assume the obligation and responsibility to stop being spectators and become participants, not depending for everything on the government, but depending on each citizen to contribute what corresponds to him or her, in order to reduce the gap of economic inequality and lack of opportunities caused by the constant abuse and submission of each other.

The extreme gap of inequality has led the most excluded people to engage in illegal practices to get what the State can not provide, because even work has become a brake on growth. He regretted that “the greatest enemies of Mexicans are the Mexicans themselves, exercising different types of violence and discrimination, taking advantage of vulnerability”.

Mayer Breton argued that as a society we must move forward without anyone being left behind, and guarantee not only in the text but in the facts a dignified life with freedom to exercise and access the rights that correspond to each one by the simple fact of being a person.

The president of the Indigenous Peoples Commission, Irma Juan Carlos, said that cultural, linguistic and thought diversity has supported the indigenous communities. It is necessary to recognize that diversity does not have to result in inequalities but it can result in into opportunities, based on the principle of respect and recognition.

She pointed out that this is the international year of indigenous languages, and emphasis should be placed on this, because, according to the diagnoses that have been made; “All the indigenous languages ​​of our country are at risk”.

“We can not talk about peace without talking about everyday realities and there can be no peace without equity and access to rights. The State should be responsible for closing gaps in inequality and strengthening the capacities of citizens, generating the conditions for this to happen, through public policies and legislative proposals that promote the rights of all.”

She called for eradicating poverty and discrimination, making it possible for citizens to exercise their rights in a framework of freedom. “Not only tolerance, but respect for diversity; it is a fundamental step to transform the country and create the culture of peace for men and women in our time.”

“I have to point out in the framework of this forum, that we live immersed in conflicts, the product of public policies that favored the dispossession of our lands, the theft of our identities, our cultures, oblivion, marginalization and poverty, social, political and economic inequality, But despite this, we continue to insist that dialogue and concord is the way to achieve peace and justice, “she added.

Gabriela Osorio Hernández, president of the Cultural Rights Commission of the Mexico City Congress, said that according to official reports, Mexico ranks second in Latin America in hate crimes of homophobia. It is also where there is the greatest increase in murders of journalists in the last two years.

To this, she added that, according to the INEGI, the main cause of death of males between 15 and 44 years old is aggression; while the latest discrimination survey indicates that 20.2 percent of the population aged 18 and over declared having been discriminated in the last year by some characteristic or personal condition, such as skin tone, manner of speaking, weight, height, form of dress or personal grooming, social class or place where you live.

“It is urgent to recognize that our country needs to rethink and weave itself together again. We need to embroider new ways of looking at each other, values ​​that enhance the dialogue about violence, the resolution of conflicts over confrontation, the recognition of diversity and the inclusion of all social groups without discrimination.”

José Alfonso Suárez del Real, Secretary of Culture of Mexico City, said that society should understand that the only way to overcome the problems they face is to recover the culture of peace.

He urged us to recover the concept of community to work in harmony and democracy in the public space, so that neighbors live in a social reconciliation that promotes peace.

It is essential, he said, to support young people to be actors of transformation because “if they are left at the mercy of the illusions of organized crime, what we are creating are anti-citizens and assassins with the risk of losing a generation.”

He argued that it is fundamental to guarantee the right to the culture of peace. He asked the legislators that “it is time to stop looking for problems to the solutions” and to address those that are needed.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

How can we develop the institutional framework for a culture of peace?

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Xavier Aguirre Palacios, representative of the Community Culture Program of the Federal Directorate General of Cultural Liaison, said that achieving respect and promotion of the cultural rights of all communities is essential to achieve peace and to escape the desolation in which the country has been submerged.

He pointed out that there is a lag in the access and recognition of the cultural rights of the population. We have to understand that they are a fundamental part of the guarantees of life that the citizen has to enjoy the artistic creations that promote coexistence and reconciliation.

“Cultural rights are not second class,” he said. Therefore, projects that link citizens with creative expressions will be promoted. Violence cannot be overcome by more violence.

He pointed out that an equitable redistribution of cultural wealth will be encouraged, because many expressions have been concentrated in the capital of the country and focused on the highest social classes. They must be made accessible to the entire population and to all expressions.

Nashieli Ramírez Hernández, president of the Human Rights Commission of the Federal District (CDHDF), said that it is not easy to move towards a culture of peace. The challenges are huge. One of them is how we handle conflict, how we react. We need understanding and conciliation in response to the different types of violence, which go beyond goodwill. Creativity is required to change the trend, and to find effective ways to overcome them.

It is proven that if young people have adequate tools that encourage their talents and open up their options for development, real solutions are possible. The increase in violence affects girls, boys and adolescents directly. Seven out of 10 have suffered an aggressive act, through bullying, becoming an emotional victim. “We have a great challenge to turn the culture of violence into a culture of peace,” she said.

We need parenting with love, understanding and tenderness instead of blows and shouts. It must be understood how the culture of peace is built, which is the opposite of violence, in both the private and public sphere.

Julieta Morales Sánchez, general director of the National Human Rights Center of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), said that “Mexico not only needs to pacify itself, but to build a culture of peace,” based on strong and efficient institutions, without corruption and transparent, that make possible to a decent life.

It is not an easy topic because it involves areas such as administration, law enforcement and security, but the social reproduction of crimes and violence by the media must be avoided. Our culture is permeated by gender stereotypes, discrimination and idealized life projects that exclude a large number of Mexicans. We must ensure that there are no first or second class Mexicans and everyone must work.

She clarified that “peace is not just the absence of armed conflicts”, but also the avoidance of structural violence that is reflected in a lack of opportunities in all areas. Respect for human rights must be privileged because they are the foundation of peace, development, stability and trust in institutions.

Democracy offers the conditions to build peace by reconciling differences and confrontations, encouraging dialogue, understanding and tolerance.

María Ampudia González, national counselor of the National Human Rights Commission, explained that children in Mexico occupy the first place in the dissemination of pornography; child sexual abuse; homicide against children aged 14; pregnancies of adolescent girls between 12 and 14 years old, as well as obesity and diabetes problems.

She indicated that the nation is the fifth most trafficked, violated and forgotten in the world in human trafficking and childhood. “The result of an abandoned childhood is worrisome: a child when it is born needs three things: tenderness, recognition and attentio, these are the most important factors of a child when it comes into the world.”

The social fabric is broken, but we can fix it with justice, sound public policies, doing a good job and involving young people in this culture of peace. Also, helping families so that violence in homes is reduced.

Roberto Martínez Yllescas, director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Center in Mexico for Latin America, said that the challenge of promoting peace is linked to the need for change in the educational paradigm. Students are treated as passive entities confronted with an accumulation of data and concepts. The traditional educational scheme is insufficient for the requirements of the 21st century: with the speed of its digital revolution and technological progress.

It is necessary to promote community resilience, in order to educate to be aware of what being is, with values ​​and attitudes towards an interconnected and intercultural world; to train students with a new vision of competence in the face of climate change, poverty, inequality and migration. Peace is not only the absence of violence but the empowerment to face problems with a global perspective, to mitigate the risk of conflict and to encourage resilience as a whole, with the purpose of making the most of an interdependent world.

Norman Bardavid Nissim, executive secretary of the National Commission for the Culture of Peace (Comnapaz) Mexico, commented that peace is a state of unity of the human being in a holistic way within the framework of universal values, privileging the dignity of life in all its manifestations.

The culture of peace must be considered as a living letter, included in the Political Constitution. He proposed to make a federal law to promote the culture of peace, to educate minors with this focus on both private and public. Also, it is necessary to create a National Commission for Culture of Peace, a decentralized body to resolve the differences between society and government, he proposed.

The forum was held in three working groups: What is the culture of peace? Social prevention of violence and crime and, Diversity and equity among communities. Participating civil associations included Embajada Mundial de Activistas por la Paz, Cauce Ciudadano, Espacio Progresista, Victoria Emergente, Vive México y Foro Global de Liderazgo Juvenil.

Bolivia: Authorities present Carnival 2019 focused on promoting the culture of peace in Sucre

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An article of La Razon (translation by CPNN)

The General Secretary of the Mayor of Sucre, Marcel Orgaz, presented on Wednesday [06 February] the ‘Sucrese Carnival 2019’, an event that will focus on promoting the culture of peace, with emphasis on the fight against violence against women.

(Click here for the Spanish original. . )

Questions for this article:

Can festivals help create peace at the community level?

“The ‘Sucrese Carnival 2019’ is launched, and since Sucre has been designated as ‘Ibero-American Capital of Peace’ by the Union of Ibero-American Capital Cities (UCCI), this carnival will focus on promoting the culture of peace and the fight against violence against women, “he said at a public ceremony.

Orgaz anticipated that the carnestolendas [3 days preceding Ash Wednesday] will begin tomorrow, Thursday, and will last until March 16 of this year, highlighted by the ‘Carnival of Antaño, with the Juventud de Siempre’, organized by radio La Plata.

For his part, the municipal secretary of Tourism and Culture, Pedro Salazar, said that another of the activities will be the Entrance of the Carnival Grande de Sucre, the Carnival of El Tejar and the Intercultural Entrance of Surapata.

Salazar warned that the prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages will be strictly enforced, in addition to the control of drinking water to avoid waste.

Stories from Rotarian Action Group for Peace provide inspiration for peace

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Excerpts from an article by Reem Ghunaim, Executive Director of Rotarian Action Group for Peace (RAGPF)

. . . This is our 2nd annual Top 5 RAGFP Membership Countries newsletter. It highlights only a fraction of the stories you generously and courageously create on the ground, daily, in 74 countries around the world. Thank you for leading countless stories such as these every day in your Rotary clubs and districts. Your stories are our inspiration at RAGFP. We hope you enjoy reading and learning from each other’s experiences, initiatives, and ideas. . . .


RAGFP member Caroline Millman, (pictured right with Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum)

[United Kingdom]

RAGFP Board Member Alison Sutherland is current chair of our Peace Education Committee. She wrote an article for The Rotarian Magazine UK  that exemplifies all Rotarian peacebuilders. She sat in busy traffic one morning, noticing a group of people outside an old building in her home town of Cardiff, Wales, and recognized an opportunity of Rotarian service. These were refugees seeking asylum and she found a way for Rotary to help them. She assisted Rotarian partnerships that currently integrate many of the 1,000 foreign refugees per month who arrive in Cardiff into their community. The Welsh Refugee Council now refer refugees who wish to integrate into British society to the City of Cardiff Rotaract.

Alison says many of these immigrants “did not always fall within the prescribed Rotaract age range,” yet Rotary created a space for them. Rotarians in her District 1150 now help provide refugees in the UK with English classes, sports and craft facilities, community social events, and even help asylum seekers with complicated government form fillings. Alison demonstrates how Rotarian peacebuilders are committed to meeting the basic needs of their communities as their approach to creating peace. Read More

RAGFP member Caroline Millman, (see photo above), is the Chair of PeaceJam UK. Caroline works with PeaceJam UK to tailor teacher-friendly curricula materials for youth, based on the lives of the Peace Laureates. All of their curricula features global “Call to Action” projects aligned with high-quality service-learning standards and is linked to the One Billion Acts of Peace campaign established by the Peace Laureates. PeaceJam is an international education program for schools and youth groups. It is unique as it is the only educational program working directly with Nobel Peace Laureates. PeaceJam itself has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times. Their aims are to teach and inspire a new generation to be active citizens and agents for change. . .

[India and Pakistan]

RAGFP members in Districts 3011 and 3070 (India) and District 3272 (Pakistan) have joined forces with Rotarians in six other Rotary districts worldwide to build a Peace Park in the disputed border zone between India and Pakistan. The Indus Peace Park Project seeks to promote peace and international cooperation along the border.

The Indus Peace Park Project was conceived in 2015 when a Rotary District 5080 Friendship Exchange group was unable to attend certain events in the region, due to border tensions between India and Pakistan. RAGFP members came together to provide peace action.

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Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

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The Indus Peace Park Project seeks to secure an area of 10 hectares (25 acres) of land (5 in Pakistan, 5 in India), on either side of the border. To be maintained by Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors from both countries. The park will be a neutral location where everyone can gather in a spirit of lasting peace, cooperation and goodwill. This project and the RAGFP members who lead this project emphasize the notion that “if Rotarians didn’t change the status quo- who else would do it?” This mindset is demonstrated in our live-stream videos recorded with park organizers at the RI Convention 2018 in Toronto.

Rotarian Action Group for Peace is a partner in this project. RAGFP leaders are signators of a global petition to show political leaders on both sides of the border there is overwhelming worldwide support for this Peace Park within the disputed borderlands. You can also sign the petition here, and provide financial support. Learn how your Rotary club or district can support The Indus Peace Park.  Read More . . .

[Australia]

Rotary E-Club Melbourne conducts their weekly Rotary meetings online and then go “into the field,” as they close their laptops and seek peacebuilding opportunities in their local community and globally. They often travel together internationally to remote locations so they may personally identify opportunities for Rotarian service. They sponsor water and sanitation projects in underdeveloped areas of India and visit these areas to see for themselves “if the toilets are working.” They promote peace in local schools, actively recruit fellow Peacebuilder Clubs throughout Australia, and consider personal engagement as the most important philosophy in all of their peacebuilding activities. . . .

[Canada]

. . . a national “culture of peace” is cultivated by Rotarians who form community peace partnerships and alliances throughout their country. The Rotary Club of Winnipeg is a RAGFP Peacebuilder Club. . . . Their peace initiatives focus on the value of human rights, comprehensive peace education, and include, Peace Days 365 including Festival of Peace and Compassion, an annual festival of events celebrating of the United Nation’s annual International Day of Peace. This Peace Days Festival is a nearly month-long schedule of daily events leading up to, and extending beyond, September 21st each year.

The entire community of Winnipeg and District 5550/WPP is involved in hosting peace-centered events that focus Canadians upon shared values of human dignity, compassion for one another, and respect for our environment. Peace Day 2018 events featured a film premiere of the Canadian TV series, First Contact, and the series built bridges between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians across the nation.

Their peace education in human rights programs helped foster Canada’s very first interdisciplinary Master of Human Rights program to be offered at The University of Manitoba in 2019. These Rotarian peacebuilders and RAGFP members provide examples of how all RAGFP Peacebuilder Clubs can develop effective peace projects and initiatives within their own local communities around the world. Read More . . .

[United States]

There are now 78 RAGFP Peacebuilder Clubs spread across the continental United States, in Alaska and the Pacific. . . . The Rotary Club of Boulder [Colorado] has set their next century of Rotarian service on peacebuilding. Their peace initiatives allow school children to access engaging peace education, focus their community upon peace in public spaces, inform social justice in Colorado, and introduce innovative minds from around the world to Rotarian peacebuilding. They also contact and recruit other Rotary clubs in their district to become active Peacebuilder Clubs offering mentorship and an example of excellence. 

Lajeado, Brazil: City Hall Launches Peace Pact

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An article from Informativo (translation by CPNN)

Lajeado will promote a pact for peace. The project, still without a defined name, involves several secretariats, including Health, Education, Security, Social Assistance and Sport and Leisure. They will formulate a set of strategies to reduce crime and promote a culture of peace, based on actions throughout society. The initiative is inspired by similar action already developed in the city of Pelotas, in the southern part of the state.


Mayor Marcelo Caumo. Foto by Lidiane Mallmann/arquivo O Informativo do Vale

According to Mayor Marcelo Caumo, the Department of Labor, Housing and Social Welfare made a diagnosis on several points during 2018. “The diagnosis addressed youth learning, aggression against women, drug use and violence in general. Besides investing in repression, which we have been doing with great constancy, we must invest in prevention,” he says.

Caumo explains that, based on the data compiled, we sought methodologies that have already been applied in other municipalities combining both repression and prevention and producing positive results.” We got information from Pelotas where the response was very positive.” The first phase of the project is the internal survey that will be done by several municipal secretariats. “After the beginning of the work, other entities will be involved, such as federal, state and municipal police forces, prosecutors, judiciary, business entities and the community in general,” said the mayor.

Today is an internal work meeting, in which the team will make a presentation to the City Hall about the pact. On that occasion, the municipality will review projects that already exist related to the promotion of peace and reduction of violence.

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(Click here for a Portuguese version of this article)

Questions related to this article:

 

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Culture of peace

Mayor Marcelo Caumo points out that the objective is to implement strategies capable of promoting an environment of peace, preventing violent and criminal attitudes and actions in the municipality. “We will make a comprehensive diagnosis of the situation of violence in Lajeado, including perceptions and indications not reported in criminal statistics, such as petty thefts or bullying, which do not always appear in official indicators.”

According to the head of the municipal Executive, the objective is to point out alternatives to solve issues of violence. For this, the integration of various organizations will be sought, to make their action more effective. “We will measure violence in the municipality, including previously unreported situations, and then we will identify and prioritize coping strategies.”

Results in the city of Pelotas

Recently, the municipality of Pelotas, which implemented the project 16 months ago, presented the results in reducing crime rates. Since the creation of the program, there has been a 36% reduction in homicides, 38% in vehicle thefts and 33% in robberies.

“These are very positive numbers that we want to see happen in Lajeado too,” comments Marcelo Caumo. “It is important to emphasize that the methodology of this project is to act to prevent violence, which involves health, education, culture and social assistance. In the medium and long term we hope to reduce the need to repress violence.

The creation of the peace pact in Lajeado has a contract of R $ 230 thousand, with an expected duration of 12 months with the support of consultants. The contract includes bi-weekly meetings for follow-up, in addition to permanent contact with the working group. The draft includes the values ​​of travel, travel, food and lodging.

To know more

On November 21, 2018, the consultant and executive director of the Instituto Ciudad Segura, Alberto Kopittke, was in Lajeado to present the project “Pact for Peace”, developed in cities like Pelotas, Niterói, Fortaleza and 20 other municipalities in the metropolitan region of Ceará. The methodology, based on evidence (evidence of effects and outcome of actions), is concerned with preventing violence from the gestation of the child to actions aimed at young people with violent behavior. The goal is to act early to prevent more serious problems in the future.

Spain: The policies of cooperation of the City of Toledo “are more than words”: an example for other local institutions

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An article from La Cerca

The Councilor for Social Welfare, Javier Mateo, participated this Saturday [February 2] in the inauguration of the XVI Conference on Development Cooperation organized by the NGO Coordinator of Castilla La Mancha. “These appointments are key to avoid individualism because they enable us to feel part of the global village,” said the municipal Social Welfare manager.

According to Javier Mateo, both the City of Toledo and the participants in the Conference “share values ​​and concerns about the global situation, the need for social change and the importance of achieving the opening of a new mentality in society.”

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(Click here for the Spanish version of this article.)

Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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The celebration of this meeting in Toledo “is a recognition of the effort and work that we develop from the local government so that development cooperation policies are more than words and beautiful speeches,” he said, to remember that during this term, the City Council has opted for the increase, both in the Budget for Cooperation, as well as in the participation and involvement of the city’s organizations.

As reviewed by the welfare councilor, their political commitments have been met as they have managed to increase this budget to 0.55%, “promoting development programs, cooperation or response to emergencies and humanitarian catastrophes.”

To facilitate the participation of NGOs, the City Council of Toledo approved the creation of the new Municipal Cooperation Council. Among the initiatives of both the Department of Welfare and Cooperation, Javier Mateo recalled the launch of the First Culture of Peace Forum.

“We work so that in the future we can continue to ensure that cooperation policies and social sensitivity are on the municipal agenda,” said the mayor who has also pointed to the importance of “work at the local, in our neighborhoods, in our streets For this reason, we created the campaign ‘Solidaridad 365 + 1’ so that the city knows the realities of other peoples and can act in solidarity with them “.

Mexico: Cuernavaca unites for ‘Peace Accord’

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An article by Carlos Soberanes in Diario de Morelos

The mayor of Cuernavaca, Antonio Villalobos Adán, has signed the “Peace Accord”, to launch the program Silla Rosa [Rosa’s Chair], headed by the Secretariat of Social Welfare and Values.

“The purpose of the program, presented to civil society, business representatives, human rights defenders and leaders of the city, is to reduce rates of violence against women,” said the mayor.

After recognizing that one of the priorities for the municipal government is to develop an environment without violence and peace, Antonio Villalobos Adán urged all sectors to join in these preventive actions.

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(Click here for the Spanish version of this article.)

Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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The “Peace Accord” was signed by municipal authorities, representatives of the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Speaking at the City Museum, the mayor stressed the importance of joining the campaign “The culture of peace”, promoted by international organizations so that all families have the right to live within a just and lasting peace, in a state of tranquility and balance.

Meanwhile, peace ambassador Larissa Navarro said that the Silla Rosa program is a symbol of women’s rights and obligations, how to instruct children and their families in peace, with the engagement of men.

In her speech, the Secretary of Social Welfare and Values, Cynthia Pérez Suero, reported that during these 30 days a thorough work has been done to find out the real situation, in order to implement projects and programs in favor of the society.

During the working meeting the representatives of the UN, UNESCO, Mayor Antonio Villalobos Adam and civil society inaugurated the Itinerant Book and signed the “Peace Accordt”.

It should be noted that the document was symbolically signed with “white gloves”, as a rejection of violence.

Jamaica: Tek Sleep an Mark Death with the Venezuela Situation

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An article from the Jamaica Observer

[Editor’s note: In saying the following below, “We had better “tek sleep and mark death”, the author uses a Jamaican proverb that means to use a simple experience so as to know what to expect in a more dangerous situation. In other words, beware, the same fate could happen to us!]

The Jamaica Peace Council (JPC) joins all peace-loving people in rejecting the orchestration of what seems to us to be a coup d’état in Venezuela by the United States and its allies on January 23, 2019. They opted to endorse the self-appointment of Juan Guaido as president while demanding that Nicolas Maduro step down or face the possibility of a military intervention.

When asked by the media if the US may invade Venezuela, President Donald Trump gave the snide response that, “All options are on the table.” This can only be viewed as a declaration of war against a sovereign nation whose citizens have exercised their democratic right to elect a leader that is not favoured by the Donald Trump Government.

In 2014 the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean came together and established a treaty declaring the region a Zone of Peace, meaning that dialogue, not war, will be the means by which issues are resolved within and between states. This declaration of war against Venezuela is not only in breach of international law, it is disruptive to the culture of peace that we are creating in our region.

Wars destroy the fabric of nations and create a psyche of violence which manifests itself in spiralling violent crimes across the world and right here at home. Mass murders are now a frequent occurrence in the United States. We must reject the warmongering, dictatorial posture of the United States towards Venezuela.

Let us get the facts straight about what is unfolding. On the January 10, 2019 Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated as the legitimate president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, having been elected by over six million people on May 20, 2018. In that election, over nine million people exercised their right to vote for three candidates, despite the right-wing guarimba violence aimed at preventing them from going to the polls. The right-wing Opposition party had chosen to boycott the polls. The election proceeded in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999.

According to the conclusions of the “extensive international technical electoral accompaniment mission”, which oversaw the process, the Venezuela electoral system was perfectly free, fair and transparent. This is contrary to the claim that the elections were fraudulent and that ballot boxes were stuffed. Venezuela has a sophisticated electronic process that does not use ballot boxes. The self-declared “Interim President” Juan Guaido is false and undemocratic. It does not accord with any of the provisions of the constitution. He is being imposed on the people of Venezuela by the United States even though he was not even a candidate in the election last year.

US officials recognised Guaido as president even before he swore himself in. This is not surprising because the US has a history of setting up puppet regimes in Latin America to give their multi-national corporations unbridled access to the rich resources of the countries.

This matter must be taken seriously by the citizens of Latin America and the Caribbean as it contravenes our right to elect governments of our choice. It has implications for all our nations. Picture some relatively unknown individual declaring himself prime minister of Jamaica and receiving the backing of the US, who then tells Prime Minister Andrew Holness to step aside because he is not obeying their dictates. That is the scenario in Venezuela. We had better “tek sleep and mark death” with this Venezuela situation.

We denounce this coup attempt, which has only received support from a small number of US allies, including the Lima Group, and is condemned by rest of the world. We denounce the attempt to instigate civil war in Venezuela by calling on right-wing supporters to take to the streets. We condemn the US for imposing sanctions against Venezuela with the obvious aim of destroying the economy in order to turn the people against Maduro. We condemn the US Government for lobbying the Bank of England to block Venezuela from withdrawing $1.2 billion worth of gold from its assets placed in their trust. We condemn their latest cruel action of freezing the revenue from CITGO stations in the US.

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Questions for this article:

What is your impression of the new direction being taken in Venezuela?

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As imperialism bears its fangs, it calls to mind Henry Kissinger’s plot to make Chile’s economy scream prior to the overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973. The US officials claim to be concerned about the Venezuelan people. How do these actions benefit the Venezuelan people? No, they don’t care about the people. They only care about corporate greed. They are making the people suffer as part of their planned strategy to overthrow a Government that puts the interest of the people first. This is the same cruelty that was displayed during the government shutdown in Washington. The Trump Administration cared nothing about the plight of the federal employees, most of whom live from pay cheque to pay cheque and found themselves unable to pay rent, mortgage, car note, and medical expenses. Some could not even buy food and medication.

We applaud the nations that stood up at the meeting of the UN Security Council on January 26 and obstructed the attempt of the US to obtain endorsement for intervention in Venezuela. We are proud of the representatives of Caribbean and Latin American nations that courageously refuse to support the call for intervention in Venezuela. We applaud the over 180 nations which recognise Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela based on the results of the May 2018 election.

As an organisation dedicated to peace, justice and freedom from interventionism, war and violence, we call on the Trump Administration to stop their regime-change destabilisation tactics in our region. We call on the Trump Administration to withdraw all military bases from the region and to realign its foreign policy to the spirit of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) Declaration of the region as a Zone of Peace.

The US has no history of promoting democratic governance in the Caribbean. Cuba in 1961, Grenada in 1983, and Honduras in 2009 are examples of their imperialist intervention and paramilitary violence. We say: “No more interference and no more coups!”

We stand with the people of Venezuela in their leadership through the Bolivarian Revolution. They have promoted freedom, dignity, and peaceful cooperation in our region and around the world.

Instead of fomenting coups and wars, we recommend that the US Government turn its attention to the following issues at home:

• There are approximately 553,742 homeless people, including war veterans, many of whom rummage through garbage for food on a daily basis.

• There are an estimated 100 million people living in poverty.

• There are a rising number of homeless deaths in the streets.

• A vast number of US citizens have to work two or three jobs just to survive.

• The super-exploitation and financial insecurity of American workers through short-term contracts with no benefits.

• There’s a resurgence of overt racial discrimination and ascendancy of white nationalism.

• There’s wanton killing of blacks which gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

• There’s a vast community of people still living in tents and make-shift abodes under bridges more than 10 years after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

• The harsh conditions still being faced by Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria which claimed the lives of an estimated 4,600 persons.

• Recall the poisoning of the rivers and streams by mining companies which sparked the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

• The increasing number of mass shootings as the interest of gun lobbyists is placed above the safety of the citizens.

These are just a few of the issues that the US Administration should address at home if it really cares about people. In clear Jamaican parlance, we say, “Clean up yuh own yard and stop faas in other people business.”

 
This piece was submitted by the Jamaica Peace Council. Send comments to the Observer or jamaicapeacecouncil@gmail.com.

Mayors and parliamentarians call on Russia and the U.S. to preserve the INF Treaty

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A press release from the Basel Peace Office

Mayors, parliamentarians, policy experts and civil society representatives from forty countries – mostly Europe and North America – yesterday [January 29] sent an open letter, the  Basel Appeal for Disarmament and Sustainable Security, to Presidents Putin and Trump and to the leaders of the Russian and US legislatures, calling on them to preserve the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, prevent a new nuclear arms race in Europe and undertake measures to reduce the risk of a nuclear conflict and support global nuclear disarmament. (Appeal also available in French, German, Russian and Spanish).

The INF Treaty is an historic agreement reached in 1987 between the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, and to utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification of the agreement.

Following President Trump’s 20 October, 2018 announcement of his intent to withdraw the United States from the INF Treaty, the State Department has signaled that the US will suspend implementation of the treaty beginning 2 February 2019 and commence the six-month withdrawal process. If the Treaty is dissolved it would further stimulate the current nuclear arms race. In particular, it would open the door for intermediate-range, ground-based nuclear-armed missiles returning to Europe and for US deployment of such missiles in Asia.

‘We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating security environment in Europe and internationally which led the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to last week re-set the Doomsday Clock at 2 Minutes to Midnight,’ says Christine Muttonen (Austria), Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

‘Conflicts over the INF Treaty should be resolved through the Treaty, not by abandoning it. And other conflicts should be resolved through diplomacy and common security mechanisms such as the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),’ said Ms Muttonen, who recently served as the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.  ‘They cannot be resolved by elevating nuclear threats and ratchetting up the arms race.’

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Questions for this article:

How can parliamentarians promote a culture of peace?

How can culture of peace be developed at the muniipal level?

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‘Mayors and parliamentarians, especially those of us from Europe, will not sit idly on the side while the US and Russia erode our security,’ said Thore Vestby (Norway), Vice-President of Mayors for Peace and a former member of the Norwegian parliament. ‘Cities and parliaments are therefore taking action to support nuclear arms control treaties such as the INF and START treaties, promote additional measures such as no-first-use and the new  Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and to put an end to city and state investments in nuclear weapons corporations.’

‘Legislators in nuclear armed States have a specific role to prevent authorization and funding for new more sophisticated and usable nuclear weapons that increase the risk of destruction of humanity by accident, miscalculation or intent,’ said Paul Quiles (France), Mayor of Cordes sur Ciel, President of Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire, and Former Defence Minister of France.

‘The fact that the President of the US Conference of Mayors is among 18 US mayors who endorsed on short notice is a significant indicator that ‘Main Street USA’ opposes the Administration’s destabilizing and expensive nuclear weapons program and supports proactive efforts to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world’’ said Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa and Vice-President of Mayors for Peace.

‘We do not want to see the dark days of Cold War conflagrations of the 1980s return to Europe. All effort is required to maintain a productive nuclear weapons disarmament regime so that we don’t see the return of nuclear weapons across the continent,”  said Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities. ‘I urge the United States and Russia to go back to the diplomatic table and not seek to build a new generation of dangerous nuclear weapons’

‘Nuclear weapons and climate change pose an existential threat to current and future generations,’ says Dr Andreas Nidecker MD (Switzerland), President of the Basel Peace Office. ‘The massive amount of spending in nuclear weapons – over $100 billion per year – should instead be spent in areas which increase our security – such as diplomacy, climate protection and the Sustainable Development Goals.’

‘Diplomacy is starting to work on the Korean peninsula with North and South building cultural, sporting and other contacts despite their political differences,’ said Alyn Ware (Czech Republic), PNND Global Coordinator and Member of the World Future Council. ‘We give full support to the Korean peace and denuclearization process and we call on US, NATO and Russia to follow a similar diplomatic approach with regard to their conflicts, and to help achieve global nuclear disarmament.’
 
Background

Renew Nuclear Arms Control, Don’t Destroy It. By Andrew Lichterman and John Burroughs

Who lost the INF Treaty? by Pavel Podvig, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists;

Parliamentary action to preserve the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, PNND.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Activities Report of JFDHOP during the 2018 elections

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

by Medard du Rocher-BOPE, President, JFDHOP (Youth and Women for Human Rights and Peace)

The year 2018 was marked by strong tensions associated with national elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On the side of power (the rulers), there was no desire to organize these elections and they sought by all means how to circumvent them.


One of their strategies was to offer one of the opposition leaders the post of Prime Minister, which would allow them to extend the term of office of those in power. This would have bypassed the election agreements of Saint Sylvestre that had been agreed on 31/12/2016.

The electoral center, an accomplice, proposed the delay the dates of the election, hoping to provoke a popular uprising that would enable them to declare a state of emergency and simply cancel the elections for a later date.

Also to circumvent the elections, a coup d’etat was prepared, the army and / or the National Police would take power by force for a few days as was done in the past with Kasa Vubu and Mobutu after independence, enabling them to declare the impossibility of organizing elections as a result of insecurity.

Several strategies were mounted; the most recent was the scenario of a fire to burn up the voting machines and bulletins on the high command avenue in Kinshasa / Gombe. Under the watchful eye of the international community, with divided opposition. Part of the latter supported the elections with or without voting machines and another was categorical: elections without a machine for several reasons:

One reason given was that the Congolese people do not have experience with voting machines. One of the proponents has even stated that he needed 6 minutes to use it, and he felt that those who do not master computers would need more or less 20 minutes.

Another argument was that by manipulating the computers, the results could be determined in advance by programming it so that each vote would be counted 3 or 5 times for one of the candidates.

All this was said to discourage the people from going to vote, to sabotage the elections and allow those holding power to cling and extend their power. Finally, the voter turnout turned out to be low at only 37%.

In brief, this was the context in which your Association “J.F.D.HO.P” went to work. Sometimes, security guards would charge us for being supporters of KAMWENA SAPU. But they ended up freeing us when they could not find any indication of KAMWENA SAPU supporters.

Several activities were organized to offer the population to go to the polls and vote. A motorized caravan was organized in October during the submission of applications, encouraging women to come forward, and to realize that they are the majority of the population. This caravan organized for 2 days in Kimbaseke, Ndjili, Makala, Nsele, part of Maluku, Masina, Ngaba, Limete and Matete.

During this period, doubts hovered over the heads of the Congolese people. Everyone supported the elections but the voting machines were called “machine to steal” and this did not inspire confidence.

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Click here for the version in French)

Question(s) related to this article:

Can you add to this analysis of the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

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Faced with this situation, your Association organized a morning with the Youth at the Church of God’s Elect at Residential Limit 13th Street to discuss the subject of elections. The theme was “Democracy and Elections”. The Association urged the youth not to give way to discouragement. They must seize the opportunity because their future depends on it. In turn, the young people gave us the mission to bring them the information about whether they were really”machines to steal”.

Your Association attended the sensitization on the voting machine in Ndjili  [a municipality in the Tshangu district of Kinshasa] and we had the opportunity for the first time to use the voting machine and to ask the necessary questions.

After this session, your Association has once again convened a meeting, this time also inviting the elders as well as youth. We explained to them how to vote with the machine. Young people as well as old people who have android phones quickly understood. For the others, it was necessary to explain them more. And, we asked the participants to reiterate to others, to convey the information that the machine is not complicated, it is enough to have in advance the numbers of your candidates, in which case everything is easy. It is more complicated and takes longer if you have to look for the number of your candidates.

But the tension was increasing around the voting machine. One of the leaders of the opposition declare openly that they would sabotage the machines.

Faced with this situation, your Association with the support of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office distributed T-shirts with various messages of peace, (among others: voting is a right and a duty; violence is a crime; your choice in the elections; it is the Congo of tomorrow; Election yes! violence no!, etc.).

Your Association went to meet with youth associations in Kasavubu, Limete, Makala, Kalamu, Kingasani, Masina, Ndjili, Mont-ngafula and Nsele to exchange and give these messages in the churches and finally with the activists of the political parties. We first went down to the UDPS / Tshisekedi headquarters at Limete 10th Street. We exchanged with the militants of this party and distributed to them the messages of non-violence and peace. To avoid being confused with the candidates to the elections and to avoid being stoned by the population, the members of the Association wore the T-shirt when going to the peripheral districts of the city of Kinshasa such as Malueka, Kimbaseke, Ferbois , Siwabanza, Makala etc.) At bus stops, markets, etc. we distributed messages and spread this message of non-violence and peace. A strong sensitization was also made to the Church of the elect of God in Limete 13th Street by the president of the Association Mr. Medard du Rocher-BOPE. Your Association has also used social networks (facebook, etc.) for a wide dissemination of message.

The postponement of the elections from December 23 to December 30 further sowed doubt about effective organization. Your Association, always close to young people, reassured them by reminding them of the will of the International Community to bring our country to the organization of elections.

Finally, J.F.D.HO.P are volunteers. After voting, they circulated in different polling centers to see what was happening and to assess the degree of violence. Some of our members were in the center until the results were posted.

[Editor’s note: As of the date of posting of this article, the opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has been sworn in as President in the country’s first transfer of power via an election in 59 years of independence. However, there are claims that the election was actually won by another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, and tensions remain high in the country.]

France: The “Yellow Vests”. Sixty Days That Have Turned Everything Upside Down

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Pierre Duquesne with Cécile Rousseau in L’Humanité

Since November 17, the “yellow vests” [gilets jaunes] have brought the people back to the fore, revealing the extent of the democratic crisis. An unprecedented mobilization has brought a halt to Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term.

Emmanuel Macron loves, decidedly, the small Norman villages. Before debating for seven hours in a gymnasium in Grand-Bourgtheroulde on Tuesday, he made a stop at the Berd’huis, a small village in the Orne, in April 2018, for an appointment with Jean-Pierre Pernaut. This seems to come from another time.

A year after his election, the president felt powerful. To the unions who were fighting against the transformation of the SNCF, he warned that he would go “to the end”. To the students who were fighting against Parcoursup’s selection logic, he was saying that they had better think again “There will be no chocolate exam in the Republic,” he added, from a grade 2 class. Shamelessly, he said “thank you” to retirees for losing income because of the rise of the CSG.

“A lot of the way has been traveled but there is still much to do,” he said at that time. The capitalists could not fault him. For them, the assessment was already largely positive. The TFR on financial investments was crossed out with a stroke of the pen. The flat tax, an anglicism useful for concealing the end of the progressivity of taxation on capital, had just passed like a letter to the post office. In 2019, the Cice engraved in marble will make 40 billion euros for businesses. The difficulties? They “do not stop me and, I am not naive, I even expected them,” he declared, this president of the ultra-rich. He had not expected, obviously, that social anger would spring up around him, that the cry of greater fiscal justice would resound under the windows of the Elysee, where he was completely barricaded. Nor that this dispute would occur everywhere, far exceeding a few demonstrations at place de la Republic et Nation, and that it would flood the upscale streets of the capital.

“It’s a crucial moment in his five-year term”

We have yet to know if the five-year term of Emmanuel Macron reached a turning point on November 17 or December 1, when riots ignited the chic neighborhoods of western Paris? Or on December 10, when, for the first time, Emmanuel Macron conceded that he had made mistakes, in a televised interview. A yellow jacket remarked to L’Humanité that “The monarch has lost his splendor.” For the President of the Republic, everything changed when he was forced to flee a taunting crowd at the prefecture of Puy-en-Velay, set on fire and still smoking. Later that evening he said “It’s a central moment of my five-year term,” in speaking with deputies of LaREM [his political party, La Republique en Marche]

Nothing, indeed, will be like before. Because we have now seen the emergence of faces and figures that until now were invisible. It was necessary to see, on the barricades and in the demonstrations, the yellow vests in the live interviews of the TV channel BFMTV to understand the satisfaction of ordinary people to finally be shown in the television news.

There resurfaced a whole people that some people thought had been swallowed up forever in the “suburban nightmare,” a “pacified proletariat” succumbed to the cult of goods and property. A “closed session of the ego” where one would live “separated together” in a well-marked routine, far from the world of demonstrations and collective struggles.

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(Click here for the French version of this article)

Questions for this article

What is the future of the Gilets Jaunes movement?

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But this was not to be! Thousands of employees, workers and employees fraternized and demonstrated for the first time.

An example was Dimitri, a 31-year-old carpenter, interviewed last Saturday on the Champs-Élysées. “I had not voted since Chirac and even the, because my grandmother had pushed me! I was not interested in politics but I participated in the first act of yellow vests because I cannot continue to live in this unequal society. In Poissy, we organized ourselves in groups and distributed leaflets in the region to raise awareness. In the demonstration, I met people in all conditions, unemployed, stretcher bearers, young people, old …

This movement will leave traces at home, and not just because he was beaten by the police, during the act IV. This resident of Carrières-sous-Poissy (Yvelines), earning 1,700 euros per month, came out with a knee injury, a broken phone and the determination that he would not give up. “I was shocked, but I am passionate about this movement, this desire to find the right way to justice. As Macron has already repealed the carbon tax, we must continue. This political expression pushes him today to demand a change of Constitution, believing that the citizens’ initiative referendum (RIC) does not “go far enough”.

Nothing will be as before, because this movement combines social and democratic demands.. . . This movement, although it has overflowed the big trade union centers, can not however be detached from the world of work, according to Benoît Coquart, sociologist at INRA. “I spoke with an employee of Amazon, when we met at the demonstration. she told how it is very difficult to organize, to make demands, in this company where there are many temporary workers and short-term contracts [interim]. But what they can no longer do in their workplace, these workers can do through this type of movement in the streets which, at first glance, takes place outside the world of work,” reports the researcher. “Macron will be on interim,” one could read on a wall in Dijon, between two slogans demanding the resignation of the head of state.

“The first social movement of the new global age”

As for the concessions released by Emmanuel Macron on December 10, they did not move the big capitalist of Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux. “It’s true that 15 billion euros, that’s a lot. But if it helps to restore civil peace, it’s worth it, “he said, before quoting Lenin:” We must always be one step ahead of the masses. ”

Nothing will be as before, because, for the first time in a long time, the dominant classes were afraid of this “monster who escaped his parents”, these people “factious” and “seditious” (Christophe Castaner), this “hateful crowd” (Emmanuel Macron). But their repressive strategy was not enough to extinguish the demonstrations that continued between Christmas and the New Year.

“This is perhaps the first social movement of the new global age, as defined by the sociologist Saskia Sassen. This is an age when states have voluntarily delegated some of their powers to the European Union or independent administrative agencies, removing them from the decision of the citizen,” according to Danielle Tartakovsky, historian and specialist social movements, speaking to Echoes.

The great strength of this movement that has united under the clothing of “yellow vests” individuals from a very broad range of political views, could also become its weakness in the future. For the moment its claims are egalitarian and rather progressive, but it is still far from having the force to be inscribed in the long history of the labor movement. It remains to be seen what will happen with regard to institutional policy. In short, everything remains to be done if 2018 will enter permanently in the lineage of 1995, 1968, 1936 and 1789, as recently claimed by a sign of yellow vests.

(Thank you to Kiki Chauvin, the CPNN reporter for this article.)