Tag Archives: Latin America

Brazil: general strike highlights Bolsonaro’s weakness

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An article by Jorge Martin in from Marxist.com

Millions participated in the general strike in Brazil on 14 June, with demonstrations in 380 cities across the country. The strike had been called to reject the proposed counter-reform of the pension system by the Bolsonaro government, but also reflected opposition to education cuts, which had already brought millions onto the streets on 15 and 30 May.


Image: Fora Bolsonaro
(click on image to enlarge)

The Bolsonaro government, already riddled with internal contradictions and rapidly losing support, was hit by revelations published this week of collusion between the judge and the prosecution in the trial against former president Lula. The judge involved was then awarded the Ministry of Justice by Bolsonaro. Far from being faced with the prospect of fascism, the government could be brought down by the mass movement, but for that to happen, more than a one-day general strike is required.

The general strike had been originally called by the trade union confederations on 1 May and was part of a very weak strategy centred around “putting pressure on the members of parliament” not to approve the law, rather than to defeat it with sustained mass pressure on the streets. The decision by the Bolsonaro government to introduce cuts in universities’ budgets and the provocative way in which it was done provoked a tsunami of indignation on the national day of strike in the education sector on 15 June, when 2 million participated in demonstrations against the government across the country. The movement of the students and teachers provided the necessary momentum for the general strike. A further national day of demonstrations, called on 30 May by the National Union of Students, saw hundreds of thousands march again against education cuts.

Meanwhile, the attempt by government supporters to call counter-demonstrations in defence of Bolsonaro on 26 May was a complete flop. In Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, they barely managed to gather 10,000 each. On 15 May, anti-government protesters brought 250,000 to the streets of Sao Paulo and 400,000 in Rio. Not only were the 26 May demonstrations smaller, but their mood was not one of enthusiasm but rather of being on the defensive and in shock at the militancy shown by the youth on 15 May. The 26 May demonstrations had the aim of strengthening the government and Bolsonaro personally, in an attempt to appeal to “the people” directly above the heads of the parties and the parliament. They failed. The stage was set for the general strike.

According to the CUT trade union confederation, about 45 million workers participated in strike action. The strike was particularly strong in the education and the public sector, but also amongst bank workers, oil workers at Petrobras, public transport workers in the main cities, etc. In the industrial heartland of the Sao Paulo ABC, the metal workers’ union announced that over 98 percent of workers had struck, paralysing the main assembly plants of Volks and Mercedes and the auto-parts sector. 10 out of the country’s 12 refineries were paralysed, with workers not replacing their colleagues at the end of the night shift. The underground and bus services were either partially or completely paralysed in the main cities, despite the fact that there had been some court decisions banning some sections from going out on strike. The governor of Sao Paulo, João Dória, threatened to sack underground workers if they went on strike.

During the day, there were demonstrations and rallies outside the main workplaces as well as pickets. In the afternoon, hundreds of thousands came onto the streets in over 300 demonstrations across the whole country, including 50,000 in Sao Paulo, the same number in Porto Alegre and 100,000 in Rio de Janeiro, according to the organisers. The mood was very militant and the slogan “Fora Bolsonaro” (Bolsonaro Out!) caught on, despite attempts by the leaders of the left and the trade unions to limit themselves to demand the resignation of Justice Minister Moro. The demonstrations could have been bigger had it not been for the role played by the trade union leaders, which did their best to prevent militant demonstrations in the streets. The CUT’s president Vagner Freitas openly called on workers “to stay home” as part of the general strike.

Masses react against attacks

The strike was preceded by revelations published by The Intercept of improper conduct by the judge and state prosecutors during the trial of PT leader for corruption, with the aim of preventing him, first from being a candidate in the presidential election when he was first in the opinion polls; and then from giving any public interviews from jail, which could have influenced the election result.

This is a major scandal, which puts into question not only the validity of Lula’s trial, in which he was sentenced to jail for corruption without any evidence, but also questions the legitimacy of the presidential election itself. Had Lula been allowed to stand, it is likely that he would have gone on to win the presidency. Furthermore, the scandal affects Judge Moro, who presided over the trial against Lula and was then rewarded with the Ministry of Justice in Bolsonaro’s government, as well as being promised a seat in the Supreme Court. The latest revelations in this scandal show how Judge Moro, who was supposed to be neutral and impartial, told the prosecution to issue a press statement to rebut the arguments of Lula’s defence team. Despite the fact that he is still the most-popular member of the government, the number of people who have a positive opinion of him has fallen sharply from 60 to 50 percent over these recent leaks, adding to the ailments of the Bolsonaro government, which has just seen another of its ministers being sacked.

The pensions counter-reform is a major part of the anti-working class offensive, which the ruling class needs to implement and is being spearheaded by ultra-liberal Finance Minister Paulo Guedes. If implemented, it would be a major setback, increasing the retirement age for both men and women, as well as increasing the necessary contributions. It would have a particularly negative impact on public sector workers. The counter-reform has become very unpopular, including amongst many who voted for Bolsonaro. Furthermore, it faces a number of important hurdles in its parliamentary procedure before it can be approved. Let us remember that Bolsonaro’s party does not command a majority in the lower house, which despite being dominated by bourgeois parties, is not to keen to bear the responsibility for such a brutal attack.

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Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

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The congressional committee report on the pensions proposal included a number of minor concessions, for instance regarding the basic state pension, the pension system for workers in rural areas and even put into question one of the central ideas of Guedes proposal such as the move to individual private savings accounts. The idea behind this move by the “centre” bourgeois parties in parliament is to make some minor amendments to Guedes’ plan in order to bring the PT governors from the north-eastern states on board in accepting the basic principle of the need for a “reform” of the pension system. These governors, from the PT and the PCdoB, had issued a letter asking to be included in the negotiations of the pensions “reform”. According to some calculations, the congressional plan would reduce the amount of cuts involved from R$1.2 billion to “just” R$850 million. Nevertheless, the central aspects of the counter-reform remain, increasing the retirement age, as well as the amount of contributions workers will have to pay. The manoeuvre by Congress was also aimed at dividing the workers and weakening the impact of the general strike. Guedes reacted angrily to these proposals and threatened to resign if his original plan was not approved. The pension counter-reform law is supposed to be put to a final vote before the parliamentary recess at the end of July.

Bolsonaro government weakening

The Bolsonaro government is riddled with all sorts of internal splits and divisions, with at least three major factions fighting each other publicly. The struggle against education cuts and the attacks on pensions have provoked a steep decline in its popularity. Those who think that the government is bad or very bad have increased from 22.5 percent in February to 37.4 percent now, while those who think the government is good or excellent have declined from 38.7 percent to 30.4 percent.

Any hope that an economic recovery would prop up Bolsonaro has quickly evaporated. Figures for the first quarter of 2019 reveal an economic contraction of -0.2 percent, the first one since the end of the recession in 2016. As well as the international slowdown hitting Brazil’s extractive sector (-6.3 percent), the country’s car industry has been hit by the recession in neighbouring Argentina. Overall, industry fell by 2 percent in the first quarter. Unemployment has barely decreased and remains at 12.7 percent (30 percent amongst the youth), a total of over 13 million unemployed.

All indicators are down. Capitalists are no longer happy with the government, which is proving unable to move fast in implementing the policies the ruling class demands and risks provoking a social explosion on the lines of the 2013 June days. A survey of “money managers, economists and traders” carried out by XP Investimentos  showed how approval of the Bolsonaro government had fallen to 14 percent in May, from a high of 86 percent in January, while those rating it as bad or awful had risen to 43 percent, from 1 percent!

At a certain point, if Bolsonaro becomes too unpopular and is unable to implement the programme the capitalists need, they might consider the option of replacing him with the more “moderate” and “reasonable” figure of his vice-president Hamilton Mourão, from the government’s “military wing”.

Faced with such a weak and divided government it would be perfectly feasible to defeat the pensions counter-reform and also bring the government down. That would require a fighting leadership, which neither the leaders of the left organisations nor those of the trade unions are providing.

Fora Bolsonaro!

They were in shock when Bolsonaro won the second round of the presidential election, an outcome they were unable to understand. The leaders of the PT and the CUT reacted by raising a hue and cry about “fascism” having come to power. This was completely false and only served to cover their own cowardice in organising the struggle against the government. Bolsonaro’s government is reactionary and he is a dangerous, far-right demagogue with Bonapartist aspirations. But what we have in Brazil is not fascism, which would imply a reactionary government able to mobilise mass support amongst the petty bourgeoisie in order to physically suppress the workers’ organisations. On the contrary, what we have seen on 15 and 30 May, and above all yesterday during the general strike, is a powerful mobilisation of the working class and the youth and Bolsonaro’s failure to counter it with a mass movement on the streets on 26 May.

From this wrong political appraisal, the leaders of the PT and the CUT draw the conclusion that the situation is bad, Bolsonaro has mass support and therefore the slogan “Bolsonaro Out” is out of order. In this they are joined, unfortunately, by the leaders of the PSOL and the majority of the ultra-left sects. While the PT and CUT leaders argue that Bolsonaro was democratically elected (!!) and should be allowed to finish his term of office, the ultra-left sectarians argue that the slogan is premature and pointedly refuse to raise it. Both reformists and ultra-lefts are united in their lack of confidence in the working class.

Leaders of 10 different parties met on 20 May  in an attempt to organise a “cross-party front” against Bolsonaro. The meeting included bourgeois parties, as well as representatives from the PT, PCdoB and PSOL. As is always the case in these popular fronts, the programme was watered down so much as to mean almost nothing. There was no agreement in opposing the pensions counter-reform, which the bourgeois parties support. The demand therefore was dropped from the common front. There was no agreement on a basic, simple, democratic demand “Lula Livre”, so this was dropped.

One thing they all agreed on was… to reject the slogan “Fora Bolsonaro”. This was also the line coming from Lula, who is still in jail. The arguments are surreal. Some say that the slogan could be interpreted as a slogan in favour of Vice-President Mourao! Others argue that there should be legal grounds for demanding the impeachment of Bolsonaro, but the mass demonstrations in the streets don’t want to impeach him, they want to overthrow him!

At the meeting, PT leader Haddad insisted that the opposition agreement should be broadened in order to get the support of the centre and the “liberal centre-right”. The leader of the PCdoB parliamentary group was very pleased with the meeting and said that “we must fight against sectarianism in Brazilian politics”! At a separate meeting of left parties, involving the PT, PSB, PCdoB, PDT and PSOL on 22 May, they agreed not to raise the demand Fora Bolsonaro, despite the pressure coming from the 15 May demonstrations.

The comrades of the Esquerda Marxista  (Brazilian section of the International Marxist Tendency) have intervened since the beginning of the movement raising precisely the idea that the government can be defeated by a mass united movement of the working class. This idea can be summarised in the slogan “Fora Bolsonaro”. Defeating Bolsonaro, they argue correctly, would require not just a 24-hour general strike, but the preparation of indefinite strike action with the aim not only of defeating the pension counter-reform but of bringing down the government.

The general strike on 14 June showed the willingness to struggle by workers and the youth. If they had a leadership up to the task, the Bolsonaro government would be counting its days.

Friendship – a Pathway to Peace

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

By Irene Kai and David Wick, co-founders of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission

A foreign language professor at the Southern Oregon College (currently SOU) took a group of students on a bus trip to Guanajuato Mexico to learn immersion Spanish and the Mexican culture every year in the 1960s. In 1969, Señora Chela established a sister school relationship with the Southern Oregon College and the University of Guanajuato. She also established the sister city relationship with the Mayors of Guanajuato and Ashland. The Amigo Club was born. During the fifty years Ashland has formed a wonderful and close relationship with Guanajuato. Students flow between the two universities, faculty and city officials visit both cities, there are marriages between students, and some of Señora Chela’s students from Guanajuato went on to become a Governor, Minister of Economics and officers of the Mexican Government.


World Peace Flame ceremony in Plaza de la Paz, the Peace Plaza
(click on image to enlarge)

In April of this year, a delegation of fifty people from Guanajuato with their Mayor, City Council members, faculty from the university and the president of the Peace Commission visited Ashland. During their stay, they visited the World Peace Flame Monument at the Thalden Pavilion. The Mayor from Guanajuato was so inspired by this iconic symbol of Peace in Ashland that he asked if Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) would assist him to install a World Peace Flame in Guanajuato. This would be the first World Peace Flame in Latin America. He invited us to visit Guanajuato with the Ashland delegation the following month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sister City relationship.

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Questions for this article:

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

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When we arrived in Guanajuato, we were embraced as if we were family members. The instant warmth, open heartedness was immediate. During our stay, we learned so much about the beauty, history, art and the culture of the people and the city, especially the heartfelt closeness of the 50-year relationship everyone held dear. Wherever we went, we were serenaded by music and showered with genuine affection. The week-long celebration was packed with programs from 8am to 11pm daily. One of the programs that was requested by the Mayor of Guanajuato was having a peace ceremony conducted by ACPC at the Plaza de la Paz, the Peace Plaza in the center of the city, in order to set the intention to bring the World Peace Flame to Guanajuato in the very near future. Irene brought the candle she lit from the original World Peace Flame in Wales and gifted it to their city. The mayor lit the candle with a young school girl, a symbolic gesture of passing peace to the next generation. Most nation’s history is recorded by periods of war, at this gathering, we were writing history for our next generation, our commitment to peace. Ashland proclaimed itself a City of Peace on 5/16/2017. We also guided Guanajuato to join the International Cities of Peace after the ceremony.

Why is friendship important? As we know, long term friendship builds a strong bond, especially one for 50 years. We see each other face to face, share our joy and challenges of our children, grandchildren and life in general. Inspire and lift each other up when times are tough and go out having a grand time just enjoying each other as well. There is no difference between personal friendship and a sister cities relationship, it’s only in a different scale. As with most things of value, this is an investment with a Return On Investment on many levels. Strong bonds between cities may become a saving grace in the world.

The University of Guanajuato and SOU share knowledge and encourage students to immerse in different cultures. When they are exposed to something new, they tend to be open to learning in a safe environment instead of being fearful and lash out. They will become better global citizens with a bigger capacity of tolerance. When city officials share ideas on how to manage and govern, through open dialogue of friendship, the conversations become instructive and valued.

At this time, there is such a lack of civility in our daily interactions on all levels, personal attacks become the normal course of dialogue. The deep friendship between Guanajuato and Ashland deserves to be nurtured and cherished, like in any family, we are teaching our children how to build good relationships.

When Guanajuato installs the World Peace Flame, Ashland and Guanajuato will be the first Sister Cities in the world with sister World Peace Flames.

Agroecology and peasant agriculture to preserve biodiversity

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from AVSF, Agronomes & Vétérinaires Sans Frontières

On May 6, 2019, in its report on biodiversity, the IPBES [Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services] alerted us about the short-term threat of extinction of nearly 1 million animal and plant species. Agricultural and livestock farming are partly responsible for this disaster, while agroecology and peasant agriculture represent an urgent alternative to preserve biodiversity.

In 2017, we warned of the worrying erosion of agricultural biodiversity: 75% of edible varieties have disappeared in 100 years (FAO). The bulk of human nutrition is based on only 12 plant species and 14 animal species! In the past 10 years, at least one domestic animal breed has disappeared each month (and its genetic characteristics with it), and 20% of the world’s cattle, goats, swine, equine and poultry breeds are at risk of extinction. At cause: the promotion of a productivist agriculture with high capital investment and synthetic inputs, looking for very high yields in the short term. Agroecology under peasant farming conditions is a solution: it relies on agricultural biodiversity, values ​​it while protecting it, and in doing so contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity as a whole.

Agricultural biodiversity is a part of biodiversity that, through agricultural production, contributes to the food of populations as well as the preservation of ecosystems. It is particularly important for maintaining the productivity and resilience of cropping and farming systems in precarious and vulnerable environments. It is this great diversity of plant species and animal breeds adapted to the local environment that guarantees the survival of many peasants from Africa, Asia or Latin America on their farms and pastures, even in difficult climatic conditions and on fragile soils.

In countries of the southern hemisphere, initiatives have multiplied in recent years to upgrade local species and sustainably preserve agricultural biodiversity. These initiatives, often developed at the family farm level, have highlighted the close relationship between food security and biodiversity.

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(Click here for the original French version.)

Question for this article:

What is the relation between movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?

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Two projects that preserve agricultural biodiversity

In the north of Haiti, small producers are processing quality cocoa, made from old varieties, criollo and trinitario, typical of the Caribbean. Renowned for their finesse and powerful aromas, these beans are mainly intended for high-end chocolate, like the criollo which represents only 5% of world production, and is therefore a sought-after variety. Although chocolatiers are highly demanding, these beans have so far been poorly valued on the world market. Why ? Because these Haitian beans were not fermented, a primordial step that releases the “precursors” of aromas. AVSF has therefore trained producers of FECCANO farmers’ cooperatives in the fermentation techniques of these ancient varieties. Several fermentation, collection and packaging centers were installed for the producers of the 8 cooperatives. A cocoa that is today highly paid on the organic, fair and quality markets in Europe, for the benefit of both producers and biodiversity: grown in the heart of woodland gardens in association with many shade and fruit trees and other crops , cocoa plays an important role not only in food security, but also in maintaining fertility and biodiversity in general.

Throughout West Africa, peasant farming is characterized by the diversity of livestock breeds that it values. These breeds have exceptional adaptive capacities that have earned their durability, as well as resistance to certain parasitic diseases, such as trypanosomiasis, transmitted by tsetse fly and endemic throughout the region. Nowadays, this sustainability is threatened by the disturbing erosion of the diversity of local breeds, increasingly squeezed by introduced breeds for their higher productivity in milk and meat.

In Senegal, AVSF is supporting breeders’ organizations to improve the value of endemic ruminant livestock (the Ndama breed for example) and to demonstrate its competitiveness both in the markets and for the resilience of populations in the face of climatic or economic shocks. This breed is of small size, with good fecundity. Its speed of growth and its satisfactory qualities confer to it undeniable butchery qualities. This valorization is done through the organization of competitions, exhibitions and fairs specific to these species and races.

Through its numerous projects, AVSF has been working with farmers in the South for 40 years to preserve and reclaim agricultural and animal biodiversity and thus ensure their food security and that of the urban populations they feed.

DISCOVER OTHER ACTIONS

Read our background file

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

Bolivia to Foster a Culture of Peace at UN

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from Prensa Latina

 Bolivia will be Chair of the First Commission of Disarmament and International Security of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly with the responsibility of building a culture of peace at an international level, the newspaper Cambio pointed out on Monday [June 10].

Bolivia’s permanent representative to the UN, Sacha Llorenti, referred in an interview with Cambio newspaper to the tasks and missions with which he will start his administration.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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TAs he explained, the UNA’s First Committee’s mission starts in September. It has been scheduled for just one year, where Bolivia will argue for building a culture of peace, respectful of human rights and Mother Earth, for cordial resolution of disputes and in defense of multilateralism, international law, as well as principles and purposes of the UN Charter.

Cessation of the arms race in terms of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and preventing such a war are among teh main issues stressed by Llorenti during his term of office..

We will be also working on the implementation of arrangements in relation to conventional weapons, regional disarmament agreements and other measures to guarantee the United Nations fulfills its role in terms of disarmament and international security, he added.

It is about the first time in the history of the UN that Bolivia takes on the chair of the First Committee. In this regard, the Bolivian ambassador highlighted the leadership of President Evo Morales and export models in terms of economic growth, poverty reduction, inequality, recovery of natural resources, fight drug trafficking and peaceful resolution of disputes.

He also harped on that Bolivia is nowadays enjoying an independent and sovereign diplomacy, which along with aforesaid elements allow it to reach leading roles on the international stage, he said.

Barueri, Brazil: Culture of Peace Project is launched at meetings of parents in all municipal schools

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article from Correio Paulista (translation by CPNN)

55 Municipal Schools of Elementary School of Barueri (Emefs) are taking part in the “Culture of Peace” program carried out by the Secretary of Education. Talks, interactive activities between parents and children, music and other actions bring emotion and interactivity to all.


(Click here for the original article in Portuguese)

Questions for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

The program promotes school activities and projects that aim to structure the human relationships between the community it serves, creating positive relationships among all students, families and school staff.

The Education Secretariat aims to ensure that the Culture of Peace project goes beyond the classroom and moves forward to reduce violence numbers and increase empathy and harmony among teachers, students and their families.

According to Cineide Souza, the mother of a student of Emef Father Elídio, the meeting was very special. “We had a very important speech that warned about the misuse of social networks and the loneliness of the children. We could also declare our love to our children through messages on posters. The meeting was very beautiful and the direction of the school is to be congratulated. ”

School supervisor Vânia Santos was also happy with the implementation of the project. “Every song sung by the students, inspiring videos, panels and so many other meaningful activities filled our hearts with emotion, for in troubled times sharing peace and love brings calm and positivity to our souls. The positive energy of the Culture of Peace echoed throughout the city, thrilling every school community in a show of affection, affection, solidarity and love. The seed has been planted and we will certainly reap a lot of fruit.”

Testimonies from the First Advanced AVP Workshop in Apanteos Prison, El Salvador

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article by Antonio Salomón Medina Fuentes, National Coordinator of AVP El Salvador for Friends Peace Teams

All people should have the opportunity to be able to change and redeem themselves. Often, it is considered too late, especially when someone is completing some type of punishment because there are stigmas. Many people have prejudice and contempt for people who are in a prison.

Going back and realizing that there have been some interesting and significant changes in the lives of the incarcerated men is very rewarding. It motivates us to continue in everything we do to contribute and strengthen a Culture of Peace and Non- violence in vulnerable sectors, especially in places often excluded and sometimes even forgotten, like the jails of our country.


(Click on photo to enlarge)

The theme that we defined with this group was: A dialogue based on the Non-violence in human relations

It was an excellent and challenging topic! It allowed us the possibility of finding answers to some of the needs that the inmates of this penitentiary center currently have, which is evidenced by some of the testimonies that we share below:

“Well, what I learned from this workshop is to use dialogue to be able to resolve a conflict without violence. What I want to put into practice is to continue changing my attitude. The AVP program is an excellent program to continue transforming lives through Him. My testimony is that through AVP, I have been able to understand that one should respond before acting, that is, a conflict can be resolved without violence. I will think in the positive and discard the negative.”

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Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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“I learned to work on a team, about companionship, and to respect small and big people. I liked the games because it’s fun and I forget everything that hurts me psychologically. I would like to have more time to learn more. For me, this workshop is excellent because it has helped me to put my values ​​into practice and it has also helped me to solve problems in the best way.”

“It is totally and without any doubt an experience to live life fully well. To live without malice, remembering the good that I can give to others without expecting anything in return. I learned to always expect the best from others and always give the best of me. God bless the fantastic 4!”

“The truth is that this workshop has taught us many values ​​to be able to face any conflict or problem that we find ourselves, to always be positive. What I liked is that it taught us to respect everyone and to act wisely so as not to make mistakes. I would love to teach the other incarcerated men. For me, the workshop has been a great learning opportunity.While cultivating my values, ​​I have managed to learn that in any problem or situation, we always have or could use dialogue to solve all conflicts. Thanks for bringing the program here in the prison and sector!”

“One of the things I learned and will put into practice is to solve any problem through dialogue and not with violence, to think before acting to be able to do good to others in the future. My testimony is that thanks to the AVP workshop I have been able to relate more with my colleagues and to respect them and be able to help others without expecting something in return.”

“I learned to respect my fellow inmates, not to disrespect any security guards, to seek dialogue to avoid violence, and to listen to colleagues. I am grateful to the 4 facilitators for taking us into account. I thank God for bringing AVP to the penal centers. Actually when I found myself with no exit, without encouragement in this sector, God opened the doors to 4 excellent teachers, for which there were values ​​that we had forgotten. I learned how to recover the forgotten by thinking before acting, because everyone has the right not to be attacked. AVP has taught me to love my neighbor.”

“I learned to think before acting and to know how to value my friendships and empathize in order to give good advice to my friends. I liked the whispered affirmations because I remembered what my parents advised me. It has helped me to recover my lost values ​​and to remember again the advice that my parents gave me when I was little. It has allowed me to be able to control my emotions. I am grateful to the AVP workshops since they have come and dedicated their time to help me live my life as before.”

Once again as a facilitator team, we are very grateful for this valuable opportunity to serve the inmates considered emotionally unstable, with whom we had the enormous privilege of sharing their lives and experiences of how AVP has helped them and will continue to help them in the midst of of everything they live.

Latin America and the Caribbean need a culture of peace

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An letter to the editor of the Guyana Chronicle

Dear Editor,


THE situation in neighbouring Venezuela is very dangerous. It has led to many clashes between forces loyal to the government of President Maduro and the Opposition. The potential for escalation is great and the consequences for life and politics could be very serious.


Donald Ramotar, 
Former President of Guyana

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Question for this article:

Can peace be maintained in the Caribbean region?

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What happens in Venezuela would have repercussions on our whole continent. Outside intervention can be both positive and negative. I wish to urge that all efforts must be put to preventing the escalation of violence and to oppose any type of coup and military intervention.

Any action that could lead to the forceful overthrow of Maduro’s government would renew the culture of military coups and bloody dictatorship in Latin America, reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s. The scars from military intervention in our region hasn’t been totally healed as yet. To move for regime change through violence would only complicate and worsen an already serious situation.

The greatest contribution that external intervention can play is to encourage democratic solutions and promote political negotiations and dialogue, for a peaceful settlement. Any other course, such as economic sanctions, will only worsen the situation and lead to bloodshed and violence. Latin America and the Caribbean need a culture of peace.

Regards

Donald Ramotar

Former President [of Guyana]

Nicaragua: Technical students promote the culture of peace through murals

. . . EDUCATION FOR PEACE . . .

An article from Viva Nicaragua

More than 50 students participated in the National Muralism Contest promoting peace held by the National Technological Institute where 27 centers participated.


video

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

Question for this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?, What is, or should be, their role in our movement?

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The best works were exhibited and presented as part of the promotion of values, under the motto: “Technical students promoting peace”.

The objective of the contest is to promote dialogue and peace in technology centers, through different actions that promote spaces to strengthen artistic and creative attitudes.

The parameters to participate were to reflect the theme of promotion of a culture of peace, average size of the mural of 2 by 6 meters, it had to be elaborated in teams made up of 5 active technical students, working as a team, organization and creativity.

 Haiti – Dominican Republic : “For a culture of peace at the binational level”, theme of the 8th edition (2019) of the week of the diaspora

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from Alterpresse (translation by CPNN)

The 8th edition of the week of the diaspora takes place, from Monday 22 to Sunday 28 April 2019, in the Dominican Republic, around the theme “For a culture of peace at the binational level,” says AlterRadio Edwin Paraison, executive director of the Zile Foundation.

(This article is continued in the column on the right.)

(Click here for the original artile in French.)

Question related to this article:

Solidarity across national borders, What are some good examples?>

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The activities will begin in the afternoon of Monday, April 22, 2019, in the presence of representatives of the Haitian and Dominican authorities, among others.

A craft exhibition takes place on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in the heart of tourist Santo Domingo.among the activities announced.

Among the activities announced are the “diaspora” awards, the organization of a baseball game in San Pedro de Macoris (Eastern Dominican Republic), between a Haitian team and another Dominican, and the holding of an ecumenical ceremony.

The university “Acción pro educación y cultura” (Apec) will host the academic activities, with two conferences on binational tourism and Haitian-Dominican relations, as well as a workshop of coaching, personal motivation and community leadership, according to the Espacinsular website.

The 8th edition of Diaspora Week aims to strengthen ties between the two peoples and promote cultural, tourist and commercial exchanges.

April 20 is the date chosen in Haiti to mark the national day of the diaspora.

Colombia: Scars that build peace

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from Kienyke Historias

Coming from different places in the south of Colombia, they arrive in groups, dressed in coats, hats and gloves, since many of them are not used to the cold. In their eyes you see a mixture of emotion, expectation and some fear. From different parts of the country, these women have experienced the harshness of violence in the armed conflict.

They are organized in two groups. They greet each other and embrace each other. Some are old acquaintances. They are on the road to rebuilding their lives after having survived different forms of violence. Each story is a world, but all these worlds intersect with common elements.

Those who do not yet know each other present themselves and talk about their hopes, struggles and expectations. Little by little they gain confidence and gather the courage to experience an encounter never before possible. At the end of the afternoon, spontaneously, the group of members of the Departmental Table of Victims decide to go to the room where the other group is assembled, composed of women who were part of the FARC guerrillas in the past.

With songs performed by themselves, they still meet to dance without speaking. Music works as a balm for pains and fears. Finally, they relax and take turns interpreting music from their regions. This is the start of a 3-day meeting in which 40 women, all affected in one way or another by violence, will carry out a process of healing, encounter and forgiveness.

The second day passes and all are working in detail on a drawing of themselves. They portray in each silhouette their feelings, wounds, hopes. Then, around the fire, they talk and share their stories of pain and resilience. Crying is difficult to contain, but it serves to cleanse the soul. Talking about what happened, being heard by others in solidary silence is a way of letting go of the past. Knowing that other women went through the same thing helps relieve the burden. Finally, they are not alone.

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Question related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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

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In both halls similar stories are heard. The armed conflict affected the lives of all and left scars, in some physical, in other more emotional.

It’s time to meet again. All the drawn silhouettes are displayed on the wall of the room, without names or faces, all with similar pains. Each woman can see and read the pain of the others and in a symbolic act, all are prepared to write messages of encouragement about the silhouettes they are seeing: “Better days will come, trust in God.

Here are some of the messages that are now seen on the wounds drawn on the silhouettes: “You are a very strong woman”; “Smile at life, since we have life, there is still much to be done”; “Perseverance and resilience”; “Change the pain for gratitude, the world wants to discover all your potential”; “Do not let the bad moments steal your peace, smile”; “There will always be a reason to be happy, women are more than just a face”; “Light to follow, to live, to have hope” … “that those scars are used to build peace”.

There are also hugs of consolation and they lend each other handkerchiefs to dry their tears.

At the end, the participants share some reflections. “Looking at the other drawings make merealize that we share many pains,” says one of them. “The body helps tell our story,” says another.

Now each one paints a clay pot. Landscapes, positive messages, many colors and details are seen in each piece. They work with great dedication and great detail. They leave a part of each craft. Another day has passed and they leave their vessels drying during the night.

The third day arrives and the time of the meeting is over. In a mandala, each group makes an offering. They exchange flowers, vessels, messages of forgiveness and solidarity and reconciliation hugs. Enthusiastic, they express their gratitude for the space and commit to promoting more similar encounters.

Between hugs, music and smiles culminates this first “Meeting of Women, My body, Territory of Peace”, a scenario of recognition among groups of women who have been affected by the conflict. They have gone through a process of psychosocial care enabling to turn the reunion into a true process of reconciliation. A first step has been taken in their joint work, recognizing their transforming role and promoter of a culture of peace. It is no longer two groups that you see in the room. Now they are a single group of women united by solidarity and determined to work together to write a new history.