Tag Archives: Latin America

Cuba a ‘Champion’ of Children’s Rights: UNICEF

. . . . . HUMAN RIGHTS . . . . .

An article from Telesur TV

The United Nations Children Fund, or Unicef , has declared Cuba a ‘champion’ in children’s rights. According to Unicef 99.5 percent of Cuban children under six years of age attend an early childhood education program or institution.

María Cristina Perceval, the regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean region, said, Cuba’s exemplary model of early education, “Educa a Tu Hijo (Educate Your Child),” is being adopted by many other nations. 

Perceval, who made the comments during a recent event in Cuba’s capital, Havana, also highlighted the significant advances made by the country in health. The Caribbean nation was the first to work towards the elimination of maternal and child transmission of HIV / AIDS in 2015. 

Health and education policies form the core of Cuba’s socialist programs. Cuba first initiated the social program focused on children’s well-being, 26 years ago. The Unicef in the region works in collaboration with the government in these social programs.

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Questions related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

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The ‘Educate Your Child’ initiative promotes the role of family and community in children’s formative years. Through the program, the government also prioritizes the participatory methodologies and social commitment in the area of child development. 

“The government has installed a mechanism for communities to not only deal with emergency situations, but also with other phenomena, with efficacy, professionalism, and speed,” Perceval added. 

“We are grateful to share this information that the education mechanism which incorporates childhood education, elimination of vertical transmission of HIV, and prevention of teen pregnancies. Champions, champions, champions!”

According to the 2016 Unicef report which cited the official statistics from the Ministry of Education, “There are more than 855,000 children under six years of age in Cuba, of whom 99.5 percent attend an early childhood education program or institution.”  

“Cuba has adopted a holistic approach to early childhood development (ECD), providing children under six and their families with a system of integrated services that aims to promote the best start in life for all children and the maximum development of each child’s potential,” the report added.

Perceval also pointed out that communities have played an essential role in “allowing with much humility to work on what is lacking,” adding that there is work to be done against gender violence in the region. 

“The Federation of Cuban women is immensely fierce, but we have known that violent practices could occur in public spaces and have insisted on eradication of all types of child abuse in communities and institutions,” The U.N. senior official added.

Brazil: World Social Forum concludes in Salvador


An article written by Comunicação CUT no Fórum (translated by CPNN)

The thirteenth edition of the World Social Forum came to an end on Saturday (March 17), attracting more than 60,000 people to the various activities and debates held during the five-day event.

(Photo: Alan Alves/ G1 – Click on image to enlarge)

The main venue was on the campus of the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), in Ondina, but other spaces of the Bahia capital held activities as well, including the Exhibition Park, the Isba Theater and the Pituaçu stadium..

The tone to the Forum was set by discussions of democratization of communication, financial system, work, education and youth, future of work, science and technology, employment and income, rights for migrants and refugees, national sovereignty and science and technology. “This is my first forum and the debates have been very rich and complementary and show the importance of our struggles and confrontations against the advance of neoliberalism,” says Chilean student Maribel Diaz.

Cedro Silva, the president of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores da Bahia highlighted the importance of the event held in the capital of Bahia. “CUT Bahia is proud to have organized the World Social Forum here in Salvador. The positive result is that we are sure that people from other states, from other countries, will return to their places of origin full of energy and possible solutions for a possible society that respects the rights of all.”

Here is a review of what was promoted during the 5 days of activities at WSF 2018

Income Generation

A democratic and collective space between social organizations; the World Social Forum was also the opportunity for many families to earn extra money and support themselves. This is the case of Maria Andrezina, an artisan from Tocantins. She traveled a distance of more than 1500 km in three days of travel to expose and sell the crafts she makes from golden straw. This craft has been developed by her family for generations and is their only source of income. “With the money from the sales I can pay the bills and kept the expenses of the house. The Forum is an excellent opportunity,” she says.

Ensuring income is also one of the goals of Thais Maciel, member of a collective of mothers. Born in Brasilia, Thais traveled to Brazil with her son Davi, who is one year and six months old along with other mothers to sell their crafts. “I have traveled this country and David has been with me for two months. With the sale of these crafts I keep my expenses and his expenses. That’s what matters to me. I do not want to get rich, I want to support my family and participate in moments like this,” she says.

Products of family agriculture, clothing, and ecological bed, table and bath items were also found throughout the Federal University Campus, supporting an economy of solidarity.

The Future of Work

The Future of Labor was a priority theme in the CUT Tent during the five days of the World Social Forum.

In this year’s edition, the themes and priorities of the CUT were: 1) democracy and work, 2) the future of work, 3) food production / food sovereignty; and, 4) migrations.

The activities brought together hundreds of participants from different categories in the two Tents (Margarina and Chico).

For these activities held at the tent, CUT brought special guests such as; Márcio Porchman, of the Perseu Abramo Foundation; João Felício, from CSI; Vitor Baez, from CSA; the ambassador Celso Amorim, former minister of Foreign Affairs; and Valter Sanches, of Industrial, among others.

Participation of trade unions

The participation of the trade unions was decisive for the success of the 2018 World Social Forum in Bahia.

With their flags of struggle and thematic in defense of the workers of Bahia and Brazil, the unions contributed to the construction of a better world.

Throughout the 5 days of debates more than 100 activities were registered and debated in the Tent for the Future of Work. Recognition, unity and commitment to workers sum up the participation of trade unions.


For the first time in the history of the World Social Forum, a special space was reserved for children, the Forinho. While David’s mother sold handicrafts, he joined the Forinho, along with other children.

The Children’s Forum amused the children with games and recreational activities. “While I’m in the debates, in the fight, she’s having fun,” says David’s mother.

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(Click here for the original article in Portuguese.)

Question for this article:

World Social Forums, Advancing the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace?

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Artistic and cultural interventions

National artists such as Tulipa Ruiz, Ilê Aiyê and Ana Cañas participated in the World Social Forum. Ana Cañas from São Paulo participated in the World Assembly of Democracies, held in the Pituaçu stadium with the participation of several development leaders such as former President Lula and former Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya, and paid tribute to councilor Marielle Franco of PSOL, who was assassinated in Rio de Janeiro on the night of last Wednesday (March 15). At the same event, the Afro bloc Ilê Aiyê made a presentation, highlighting black culture and rejecting racism and all forms of prejudice. The singer Tulipa Ruiz gave a presentation to the youths who were camped in the Parque de Exposições.

Defense of the Lula and Democracies

The high point of the Forum took place on Thursday and included the participation of former President Lula, former President Dilma Rousseff and former Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya. The president was acclaimed in the event of Launching of the Committee of International Solidarity in Defense of Lula and the Democracy in Brazil, realized in the tent for Future Work. The Committee aims to develop worldwide support to overturn the coup and system of repression that has been established in Brazil. Organized by the Central Única dos Trabalhadores and the Perseu Abramo Foundation, the launch of the Committee was also attended by the ambassador and former defense minister, Celso Amorim, and Professor of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

That night was the most awaited moment of all the programming and was also the one of greater adhesion. Thousands of people gathered at the Pituaçu Stadium to attend the World Assembly in Defense of Democracies and to see closely the great exponents of left-wing movements and parties. The most eagerly awaited guest was former President Lula, but the audience was also thrilled to be moved and to imagine a better future for our country with speeches by the governor of Bahia Rui Costa, Senator Gleisi Hoffman, federal deputy and presidential candidate Manuela D ‘Ávila, former president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, as well as trade union leaders and representatives of social movements and students. All were united to struggle for the preservation of the democratic state of right that has been constantly threatened by the coup government of Michel Temer.

Assembly of Women

During the Assembly of Women held in Pelourinho, the women approved a document that expresses their indignation at the situation to which they are submitted. The document proposes ways to defend women around the world.

The document includes 11 proposals that will be part of the internationalist agenda. Among the demands of women are:

* public policies that guarantee productive and reproductive work;

* recognition of the identity of expression and gender and recognition of women’s rights;

* an end to feminicide, transfeminicide and all forms of violence against women practiced in all spheres, whether public or private;
access to political power;

* the end of the persecution and the murder of women human rights defenders;

* access to universal education that is emancipatory, transformative and non-sexist and racist;

* an end to the imprisonment of blacks, natives, immigrants and poor people;

* dismantling of the patriarchal structure of the media.

The women spoke out against racism, xenophobia, genocide and all forms of discrimination; against capitalism, colonialism and imperialism that exploits and expropriates women all over the planet.

The women approved a motion of repudiation for the death of councilwoman Marielle Franco and another one of solidarity with the struggle of the women of Venezuela.

At the end of the Assembly, the participants left in a march to the Town Square with the sound of the Didá Band of the Terreiro de Jesus.

Youth Camp

As of today (March 17), a new phase of social and political confrontations is on the scene for hundreds of young people in the country. The Intercontinental Youth Camp brought together young people from all over the country to talk about politics and youth rights in Brazil and in the world.

It was three days of debates, integration and lots of fun for the young people at the Parque de Exposições in Salvador.

Ágora dos Futuros

On the morning of the last day (March 17), the results of various activities were presented.
The last day of the World Social Forum reserved an important moment of convergence among the 19 axes of discussion that were part of the event. Members from various parts of the world have transformed the UFBA Central Library into the “Agora of the Futures”, a space destined to expose actions that will keep alive the flame of knowledge that was created during the 13th edition of the World Social Forum in Salvador.
More than 60 thousand people from 120 countries took part in the activities and 1500 collectives, organizations and entities were registered.
Some 1400 self-organized activities were carried out with the participation of representatives from countries around the world, such as Canada, Morocco, Finland, France, Germany, Tunisia, Guinea, Senegal and Central America.

World Social Forum opens in Salvador de Bahia


Information from Radio Reloj Cuba, Prensa Latina and Prensa Latina

On March 14, with the cry of Fora Temer replicated in tens of thousands of voices, the Brazilian city of Salvador de Bahia opened its doors to the thirteenth World Social Forum.

The traditional march opened the meeting officially, with an intense program for which more than 1600 self-managed activities by groups, organizations and entities were registered.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

This Friday, the World Assembly of Women will take place, with more than twenty thousand participants and from which it is intended to constitute a single front to defend women´s rights and face machismo and violence.

Mariana Dias, President of the National Union of Students, pointed out that the meeting takes place in the midst of a difficult situation in Brazil and Latin America, marked by setbacks from the social and political points of view.

The conference began on Tuesday, March 13th and runs until Saturday, March 17th. . . .

Even before the opening march, the first denunciation launched here today at the World Social Forum was against the attempts of Michel Temer”s government to leave Brazilian civil society without a voice.

The denunciation was made at a press conference, after the public media network Brazil Communication Company (EBC) announced that it will not cover the event because its board did not authorize correspondents to travel here.

Shortly after taking the Presidency of the Republic, Temer eliminated the Curator Council of the EBC, appointed a new director by decree and changed the functional structure of the company.

On the importance of this 13th World Social Forum (WSF), President of the National Union of Students (UNE) Mariana Diasin told the media that the event is taking place in the middle of a difficult situation, not only in Brazil, but in Latin America and the world.

She said that in recent years there have been historical setbacks, from the social and political points of view, as a result ‘there is a perverse withdrawal of rights’, which were achieved after many years of struggle.

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Question for this article:

World Social Forums, Advancing the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace?

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She said that Brazil is living a very delicate time after the interruption of the democratic process (with the parliamentary-judicial coup d’etat carried out in 2016 against constitutional President Dilma Rousseff) and currently a neoliberal agenda is implemented without taking into account the opinion and willingness of the people. . . .

This is the seventh time since its creation in 2001 that Brazil welcomes thousands of participants at the World Social Forum. . .

With a birth certificate in Porto Alegre, where it was held again in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2012, the great meeting of social, people’s and trade union movements was also organized in 2009 by another Brazilian city, Belem.

Besides Brazil, another five nations were already witness to these events: India, in 2004; Kenya, in 2007; Senegal in 2011: Tunis, in 2013 and Canada, in its more recent edition of 2016.

In its Salvador de Bahia event, starting today with a grand march from Cmpo Grande until the Castro Alves square, in the ancient center of the city, the World Social Forum ‘has everything to i9mpact politically in the present situation’, valued the member of the Facilitating Group, Carlos Tiburcio.

For the journalist and director of the web Radio Democracia en el Aire – Red de Resistencia Democrática, there are strong reasons for this global venue to become a great trench of resistance to the offensive of international capital, and will also have special importance for tje social and political Brazilian forces.

According to the also founder of the Forum, over 1300 self-paid activities were already registered for the event, whose fundamental nucleus will take place in Campus Ondina, of the Federal University of Bahia.

The Forum’s program includes, among others, a colloquium on March 14 on the state of exception in Brazil and inequalities, democratic fragility and power of elites.

Work sessions of the meeting will start with the panel ‘Tutoring democracies: media, power and manipulation’, in charge of journalists Ignacio Ramonet and Martin Granovsky.

Other issues to be debated there are judicialization of politics or the politicization of justice; Inequalities: which, why and until when?; Racism, violence and discrimination: human rights in the coup d’état Brazil.

The colloquium will conclude with a debate about the left’s challenges: the fight for unity in an uncertain future, for which he announced the presence of director of the Center of Social Studies of Portugal, Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

As part of the program there will also be the World Women and Peoples Assemblies, Movements and Territories in Resistance, as well as the so-called convergence activities, the self-managed ones and others of political-cultural nature.

Mexico: Tlalnepantla hosts the “Encounter of Women for Peace”


An article by Lauro Galicia for Acustiko Noticias

In the ‘Encounter of Women for Peace’ in Tlalnepantla, State of Mexico, successful women shared local and international experiences to counter scenarios of violence and insecurity .

(Click on photo to enlarge)

In leading this meeting, the mayor Denisse Ugalde Alegría recognized the work of Rosa Cristina Parra Lozano, specialist in communication for development and citizen activism, as well as Margarita Solano Abadía, promoter of peace journalism, who participated as speakers and have been leaders in their respective areas.

She emphasized that each women of this municipality, whether operating in the field of politics, business, restaurant, sports and social, can lay the foundations for peace building and make a difference in their community.

She recalled that in order to make a common front against violence and crime, in Tlalnepantla the Neighborhood Networks of Security program was launched, an initiative that engages the citizenry in the construction of safe and peaceful environments.

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(Click here for the original in Spanish.)

Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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One week after the installation of the first alarm system in the municipality, about 14 thousand citizens of Tlalepantla have already been organized in neighborhood security networks, defining 199 points of installation of the 324 alarms, which means an advance of 61.5 percent.

She pointed out that daily meetings are held for the formation of these networks, which are composed of 70 neighbors on average. The networks aim to strengthen the capacities of organization, collaboration and solidarity, to promote and address violence and insecurity that afflict the municipality .

Ugalde Alegría added that about 500 public servants from all areas of the administration, have already been sensitized and trained in these issues of attention to citizenship, in addition to having held work meetings aimed at restoring public confidence.

She explained that among the communities that have already installed the alarm systems, are Santa María Tlayacampa, Jardines de Santa Mónica, Electra, Cuauhtémoc, Unidad Habitacional El Tenayo, Lázaro Cárdenas, San Juan Ixhuatepec, Leandro Valle, Los Pirules and Prensa Nacional, to name a few.

The meeting was moderated by Angélica Garnica Sosa, integrator of Culture of Peace. Colombian journalist Margarita Solano shared her experience of what she experienced in Ciudad Juárez, considered at one point as the most dangerous and violent city in the world.

Also, activist Rosa Cristina Parra narrated her experience as coordinator of the worldwide mobilization against the FARC and the work she promoted so that Colombia regains peace.

Women of Tlalnepantla exchanged points of view with the speakers, and expressed their interest in continuing to work in this municipality to consolidate a culture of peace and thereby build a safe place for their families.

On the way to the World Social Forum in Bahia


An article from Attac

The next World Social Forum (WSF) will take place in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, from 13 to 17 March 2018.

This WSF session is unlikely to have the same impact as the WSFs of the 2000s, but it will bring together many participants, mainly from the city and state of Salvador but also from the Americas (North and South). South) as of some European countries, starting with France.

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The Brazilian political situation, with a presidential election to be held in the autumn of this year, will obviously weigh on this WSF, which will be mobilized against the austerity policies at work in the country.

In this context, several elements that justify Attac’s presence and involvement in this WSF deserve to be highlighted.

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(Click here for the article in French.)

Question for this article:

World Social Forums, Advancing the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace?

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* The international situation is very unstable, a consequence of the weakening of American domination, and is marked by the coming to power of “populist”, xenophobic leaders tempted by authoritarian policies. It is therefore particularly important for movements around the world to be able to analyze this new situation and to exchange the experiences of the various resistance struggles that are developing on all continents.

* This WSF will be another opportunity to debate on the situation and balance sheet of left-wing governments in South America. These debates that continue regularly at each international meeting (Montreal WSF or People’s Summit in Buenos Aires during the WTO Ministerial for example) and are interesting for all movements, in America as on other continents.

* Salvador is one of the cities of Brazil where the population of African origin is the most important (Brazil having been the country in America with the most slaves). Discrimination, the aftermath of slavery and post-colonial issues will therefore be central.

Attac France will therefore be present at the World Social Forum in Salvador, with a delegation composed of members of the Board of Directors and facilitators of the “Systemic Alternatives” project (a project led by Attac France, Solon Foundation of Bolivia and Focus On The Global South, based in Southeast Asia that has helped to publish the book Le Monde emerges).

If you wish to contact the Attac delegation on site, you can contact fsm2018@attac.org.

Registration for the Forum is on the wsf2018.org website; when you register on this site do not forget to join the organization “Attac France”.

Defending Hope against Fear and Repression in Honduras

. . . . . HUMAN RIGHTS . . . . .

An article by David A. Sylvester for Tikkun

 You may have seen the photographs of the violent protests here in the capital of Honduras when the right-wing candidate Juan Orlando Hernández installed himself as president two weeks ago after manipulating the November election in his favor.  For hours, the opposition demonstrators appeared like dark forms in the grey haze of tear gas as they faced off against three types of police and soldier.

But you probably never saw a more important event the next night: an interfaith vigil and demonstration calling for national dialogue and a peaceful return to a constitutional government. In spite of the confrontations of previous day, more than 500 Hondurans streamed onto the Avenida La Paz directly in front of the bunker of a U.S. Embassy and freely shouted in defiance to those in the building, with an appeal to the lines of police and soldiers guarding it and, perhaps equally important, to strengthen hope in each other.

Video of Non-Violent Demonstration Outside the U.S. Embassy in Honduras

Speaker after speaker railed against the stolen presidential election, the crisis of militarization in Honduras, and the disaster of this slow social strangulation supported by the United States. In the street, Hondurans sang and danced and cried with grief for the wounded and dead at the hands of the military.  For a moment, even surrounded by the machinery of repression, the gathering became a cathartic fiesta of freedom.

By all accounts, this moment of free speech and assembly was possible because of the presence of a delegation of some 50 interfaith and peace activists, largely from the United States. We stood between phalanx of police and army soldiers in front of the U.S. embassy and the crowds of Hondurans on the street.

The police and military did not attack with tear gas and long wooden clubs called garrotes as they had attacked the demonstrations the day before. Apparently, the newly installed government, dependent on the U.S. government aid, decided it was unwise, or at least bad public relations, to attack the peaceful presence of U.S. citizens.

Most remarkable of all, we witnessed what is really possible in Honduras, the kind of dialogue, in embryo, that could heal this wounded, battered and traumatized country; a national dialogue that includes all segments of the society and searches for solutions to the endemic poverty, violence and social inequality so prevalent in Honduras.

Instead of being silenced by fear, many chanted the demand to end the repressive government of Hernández, known by his initials, JOH, and pronounced “Hoh.”

“Fuera JOH! Fuera JOH!”

(“Out, Hernández! Out!)

At times, the speakers appealed to the soldiers standing in the shadows between the shrubs on the sidewalks and the concrete facade of the embassy.

“You are our brothers!” shouted one speaker from the street.

“You have children and families! You have hearts like ours!”

The crowd roared in response:

“No matarás! No matarás”

(“Thou Shalt Not Kill! Thou Shalt Not Kill!”)
Occasionally, a few of the police responded to comments of the crowd with smiles and nods of heads of some of the demonstrators, and for a moment, it held the promise of reconciliation.

For most of the vigil, however, they stood stiff and impersonal behind face shields and helmets glistening in the street lights.

Underlying the joy and anger, there was ever-present grief. A white sheet was draped across the street with the names of those murdered and assassinated during the repression in protests since the November election.

Candles were lit in the street and on the barrier in front of the police lines. One woman held up the photo of her son, trying to shout his name when I asked above the noise, but only was able to say, “My son, my son…” before breaking down in tears. I could only listen, share her grief and give her my presence with the implicit message: “No está sola!”

Our delegation was unusual in that we were responding to an emergency appeal put out by Father Ismael Moreno, known as Padre Melo, one of the best known progressive leaders in Honduras, for international support during the week of national protests before the installation of Hernández. Melo is a Jesuit priest and director of radio station Radio Progreso, Honduras’ version of Democracy Now!, and located in historically progressive region about 320 kilometers northwest of the capital.

Since last December, Melo and the station staff has been receiving serious death threats. First, the station was knocked off the air for almost a week in the capital after the destruction of its transmitting antenna there during a night-time act of sabotage.

Two weeks later, just before New Year’s Eve, posters appeared one morning on the walls of the town of El Progreso naming Melo and others “El eje del mal en la perla del Ulúa.” –The ‘axis of evil’ in the “Pearl” of the River Ulúa, using a previous name for the town based on the nearby river.

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Questions related to this article:

What peace actions inspire people to get involved?

How effective are mass protest marches?

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Then an equally serious death threat came on Jan. 20, within a week of the inauguration and just before our arrival. At night, pamphlets were thrown out of vehicles and left in public areas of the town claiming to identify  El circulo del terror de la Alianza – “the circle of terror of the Alliance” in Progreso. It showed the faces of 12 leading members of the opposition Alianza arranged like a clock, with Melo’s face the largest and at the twelve o’clock position on top.

This campaign of vilification evoked deeply painful memories from the decades of repression, death squads and assassinations in Honduras and throughout Central America.

Last year, Berta Caceres, an internationally known environmental activist in Honduras, was murdered in her home at 1 a.m. by intruders suspected to be linked to an elite U.S.-trained military intelligence unit. This murder, in spite of security guards assigned to her by the government, sent shock waves through progressive community in Honduras and internationally. (See 16 Days of Activism: Meet Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, Honduras.)

There are numerous reports of a military plot or links to U.S.-trained soldiers.

Recognizing the imminent danger for all in the opposition coalition, the Alianza, Melo issued his urgent appeal for international support. Though the last-minute organizing of two Berkeley-based nonprofits, SHARE and the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity,  a delegation was organized  and the 50 faith and peace activists — five times larger than expected — arrived at the airport in San Pedro Sula on Wednesday, Jan. 24, four days after the last death threat.

Jose Artiga, director of SHARE and a good friend of both Caceres and Melo, remembers that they used to joke, in a macabre way, wondering who would be killed first. ”It turned out to be Berta,” says Artiga. ”Now my single goal is this: Can we keep Padre Melo alive?”

At first, we didn’t know what to expect as we arrived at the San Pedro airport and went through two check-points of questioning by customs officials.  But we emerged into the main airport lobby to the cheers of a small crowd of supporters who opened their signs of protest and stretched out a black cloth bearing the faces of two dozen recent victims of the murder campaign targeting activists since the Nov. 26 “electoral coup,” as it’s been called.

Melo, a small bear of a man, came forward, beaming, and shaking hands and hugging us. He is shorter than many of us norteamericanos, and his relief was visible. To hug me, he laid his head on my chest like a son, a gesture of humility and gratitude for our presence here.

Certainly, a week of my time in the town of El Progreso is nothing compared to living under the threat of beatings or death, as Melo, the radio station and much of the population must live with day and night. Over 15 members of the station have received death threats, some repeatedly.

During a time of repression, death came come quickly, at night, as it did for Caceres and also, in 2014, for Carlos Mejia Orellana, the marketing manager for Radio Progresso. Or it came come slowly, as it did for some of the victims whose beaten faces stare out at us from the photographs at the airport.

During our week, we stayed close to Melo, the staff at Radio Progreso and attended some of the opposition protests as witnesses. We accompanied human rights observers between the two sides in some of the many road blockades, called a toma, or a taking of the street. Sometimes, we witnessed negotiations and other times, we witnessed the charge of police against the demonstrators.

Over the years, I have traveled to Central America for different reasons, but this was the first time that I was with a U.S.-based delegation directly intervening in a power conflict with whatever authority, or privilege, we could muster when the lives of the people who became our friends depend on the conflict’s resolution.

I returned home with a troubled conscience, knowing how little we could actually do in the face of the disastrous policies of our government toward these countries. As we all know, the United States has aided, defended and profited from the horrific civil wars in Central America for 40 years — bloodbaths that have stained the American conscience with shame and dishonor.  The U.S. is now adding to this disgraceful legacy with its anti-immigration policies for those fleeing exactly those countries where U.S. policies have weighed heaviest.

Even though the American public discourse seems curiously silent on these realities, especially for the often overlooked Honduras, the reality of U.S. influence is a well-known international scandal. In 2005, British playwright Harold Pinter minced no words about the U.S. support for the right-wing dictatorships in Central America and elsewhere. In his address for the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Pinter said:

”Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

”It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Our delegation intends to provide eyes and ears to witness and remember. To Padre Melo and the journalists at Radio Progreso, our brief presence tells them: “No están solos.” You are not alone.

SEGIB Launches Laboratory of Innovation for Peace in Colombia


An article from Iberoeconomia (translated by CPNN)

The Ibero-American General Secretariat is organizing the Laboratory of Civic Innovation for Peace between February 13 and 24 with the support of the High Council for the Postconflict of the Presidency of Colombia, the Governorate of Nariño, and Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development.

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The Laboratories for Citizen Innovation, which will be held annually in Ibero-America, make it possible for hundreds of citizens from all the countries of the region to work together to develop innovative projects to improve society. The Laboratory of Civic Innovation for Peace in Colombia will be the first time that citizen innovation and solutions that citizens of all Latin America propose will be part of the construction of peace.

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Question related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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As of February 13 and for 12 days, 100 citizens from Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, Honduras, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Uruguay and Venezuela will work together on 10 projects of innovation that will provide solutions to key post-conflict challenges in Colombia in the field of human rights, coexistence, alternative local development, culture of peace and reconciliation.

The Innovation for Citizens Peace Laboratory will work on innovation and technology solutions for problems that arise in Colombia in this post-conflict stage, for example: 3D prosthesis manufacturing for victims of conflict, sustainable systems for water use in rural areas, digital platforms to organize citizen activism and documentation of the experience of an indigenous people that resisted drug trafficking.

During the Laboratory 15 conferences, meetings and free courses will be held with experts in peace and innovation processes from around the world that will be open to the public and can be followed through Facebook Live.

On February 24, the participants will present to the public all the projects completed at the Imperial Theater of Pasto in the presence of Minister Rafael Pardo and the Ibero-American General Secretary, Rebeca Grynspan, together with the governor of Nariño, Camilo Romero.

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

The People of Mexico Give the World an Example of Solidarity


An editorial by Leonardo Boff in Cultura de Paz. Managua, Nicaragua • Volume 23 • N° 73 • September – December, 2017 (translated by CPNN)

On September 19 and 23, Mexico was shaken by two earthquakes, one of magnitude 7.1 and another of 6.1 on the Richter scale, which struck 5 States and dozens of municipalities, including the capital, Mexico City, collapsing hundreds of houses and producing cracks in hundreds of other buildings. Beautiful churches, like that of St. Francis of Assisi in Puebla, saw their towers demolished. Everyone still remembers the terrible earthquake of 1985 that produced more than ten thousand victims. This, although it has been very strong, killed 360 people.

Image from Yucatan Times

Since then, I have been in Mexico and Puebla, invited to give lectures, and I have been able to verify in situ the ravages and the trauma caused to the people.

But what is most remarkable has been the spirit of solidarity and cooperation of the Mexican people. Without anyone to call them, thousands of people, especially youth, began to remove debris to save the buried victims. Groups were spontaneously organized and this spirit of solidarity saved many lives.

Immediately, aid collection centers were created for the victims, with water, food, clothes, blankets and all kinds of important utensils for a house. At the time I write this article (10/13/17) many collection sites are still visible. The cooperation knows no limits.

Here I only narrate two facts that are especially touching. The first: a school building that collapsed slowly with many children inside. A young man, seeing that a kind of channel had formed in the middle of the ruins, penetrated quickly through the hole and took out several children of 5-7 years. He had barely gotten the last one out when another part of the school fell behind him, saving his life by seconds.

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(Click here for Spanish original of this article)

Question for this article

Is there a renewed movement of solidarity by the new generation?

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Second fact: a young lady, about 30 years old, was 34 hours under the rubble. She granted a moving interview on television, narrating the different phases of her tragedy. Imprisoned in the rubble, a concrete slab was fixed within a few inches of her face. For 30 hours she did not hear any voice, or steps, or any noise that meant the approach of someone who could rescue her.

She narrated the different psychological stages, similar to those we know when a patient receives the news of the incurable character of his illness and the proximity of death.

At first, this lady asked: why precisely I must go through this misfortune? Then, almost desperate, she began to cry until she had no tears.  Then she began to pray and to plead with God and all the saints, especially the Virgin of Guadalupe, the one with the greatest devotion of the Mexicans. Finally, she resigned herself to die and confidently surrendered to the mysterious will of God. But she did not lose hope.

Finally, she heard footsteps and then voices. Her hope was strengthened. After 34 hours, literally buried under a mountain of rubble, she could be rescued. And here she was in the interview, happy and whole, accompanied by a psychoanalyst specialized in dealing with psychological traumas
like those caused by a sudden earthquake, and giving testimony of her terrible experience.

Mexico is a region geologically marked by earthquakes, given the configuration of the tectonic plates of its subsoil. The human being has no power over these enormous forces. What you can do is take precautions, learn to build your buildings to resist earthquakes in the way of the Japanese and, above all, get used to coexisting with this indomitable reality. In a similar way, the population of our semi-arid region of the Northeast, who must adapt and learn to coexist with the drought that can last for many years, as is currently the case.

 In the debate after a conference at the Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico City, one woman declared: “If our country and if all of humanity lived that spirit of solidarity and cooperation, there would be no poor in the world and we would have rescued a part of the lost paradise “.

I reinforced her statement and told her that it was the cooperation and solidarity of our anthropoid ancestors, who began to eat together, which allowed them to leap from animality to humanity. What was true yesterday must still be true today. Yes, solidarity and, in general, the cooperation of everyone with everyone will be able to rescue the essence of making us fully human. In recent days, the Mexican people have given us a splendid example of this fundamental truth.

(Thank you to Marcos Estrada, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Venezuela: Educational sector plans to train teachers in culture of peace


An article from Correo del Orinoco (translated by CPNN)

The training of teachers in values ​​linked to the thought and practice of peace will be developed in the debates that this weekend (20 January) are held throughout the country for the preparation of the National Plan for 2019-2025.

“Los espacios educativos queremos que se conviertan en espacios para la paz; unas instituciones educativas que funcionen como ejemplo de cultura para la paz y donde no sólo se piense, sino que se practique la paz”, explicó el profesor de Física José Azuaje, en un programa especial transmitido por VTV.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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Por su parte,la viceministra para le Educación, María Eugenia Piñero, en su intervención en el espacio televisivo, resaltó la unión que se ha afianzado en pro de una formación con conciencia de libertad en todo el gremio educativo que incluye al personal administrativo, docentes, consejos educativos y estudiantes.

“Ahora más que nunca tenemos un magisterio unido, que apuesta por una educación liberadora, por eso llamo a todos los docentes a seguir sumando propuestas en estas asambleas para consolidar un importante nivel de conciencia en la educación”, refirió Piñero.

El propósito de promover la cultura de paz es promover valores de aceptación y convivencia entre los estudiantes con miras a construir un futuro para la sociedad venezolana al margen de la violencia.

Este sábado el ministro para la Educación, Elías Jaua, se reunió con el sector educativo del país para debatir sus aportes al Plan de la Patria 2019-2025, desde la Unidad Educativa Bolivariana Pedro Fontes en la parroquia La Vega de Caracas, donde agradeció la atención de la comunidad educativa al debate que continuará este domingo en 3.500 espacios del país.

Honduras: Culture of peace promoted in 200 young people from “hot” areas


An article from La Tribuna (translated by CPNN)

200 young people from different neighborhoods and colonies of the Central District came to the headquarters of the Scout Movement, to participate in the “Honduras Motivate” event, promoting kills for life and leadership, from outdoor play activities,.

The activity was developed within the framework of the comprehensive security strategy program of the government, through the Secretariat of Security in the Office of Prevention and the Cabinet of Prevention, Peace and Coexistence.

During the activities, from 9:00 in the morning until 12:00 noon, the youth practiced and developed different group activities to learn to participate and create shared objectives in the construction of a culture of peace, harmony and coexistence.

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(Click here for the Spanish original of this article)

Questions for this article:

How can sports promote peace?

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These activities are carried out in strategic neighborhoods to help young people and try to remove them from the risky situation that leads them to fall into the hands of organized criminal groups.

Deputy Minister of Security, Alejandra Hernández, said that “Honduras Motívate is a project promoted by the government of President Hernández, within the framework of the comprehensive security strategy.”

In different parks for a better life, this type of activity is carried out so that young people and children can keep themselves occupied and, above all, develop habits of coexistence.

Young people participate in traditional games to try to recover the culture that has been lost. These games are little known and rarely practiced by children, adolescents and young people, explained Hernández.

They also carry out competitions where they learn and understand that there is no superiority between men and women, by valuing and seeing that each one possesses abilities and strengths different from the others.

Hernandez added that “much remains to be done, the country must advance, and harmonize in the construction of a culture of peace, we are not going back because we are on the right track and we will continue the struggle.”