Tag Archives: Latin America

Colombia: First appearance of President Duque before the National Peace Council

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from La Republica (translation by CPNN)

In his first appearance before the National Peace Council, the government’s advisory body for coexistence, the President of the Republic, Iván Duque Márquez, assured that his administration is committed to peace, but made it clear that in order to achieve it, we must have justice and fairness.

Duque spoke after a series of spokespersons from social sectors, community leaders, businessmen and students, whom he listened to and responded to with criticisms and requests. In particular the students again complained about the lack of resources for public education,

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

Question related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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The President recalled that he started with an IPC + 3 and then increased to 4 and clarified that “we have had productive conversations with the students and we have reached the maximum possible and achievable offer, because what we can not continue to do is to exacerbate social tensions by making promises that are not then fulfilled..

The President said that “peace cannot be maintained if there is no legality and if there is no security in the territories,” and he explained that although the Constitution states that peace is a right and a duty of obligatory fulfillment, it also orders the State “to exercise the role of protector of life, property and honor of Colombians at all times and places in the territory.”

By insisting on the subject of security, he indicated that “it is not an embodiment of authoritarianism, much less the limitation of citizen rights. Security as a democratic value, principle and public good is precisely so that the absence of violence exists in the territories, that no citizen feels stigmatized or persecuted for what he thinks, what he believes or how he thinks, “he explained.

The National Peace Council is composed of three committees that deliberate on issues of education, culture of peace, implementation of agreements and territorial peace, as well as oversight and guarantees that the civil war will not be repeated.

Honduras: Program in 130 schools reduces violence and promotes culture

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article from La Tribuna, Honduras

A report has been published for the cooperative program between the Ministry of Education and UNICEF for the Construction of Peace, Coexistence and Citizenship. The report describes the results achieved in the reduction of violence and the strengthening of a culture of peace and coexistence in the 130 educational centers that participated in this initiative.


UNICEF and the Ministry of Education provide a vision to the country of protective school environments that can prevent bullying and other forms of violence against Honduran children. Both institutions, together with the International Center for Education and Human Development (CINDE), seek to realize this vision through the Program.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

Where is peace education taking place?

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According to the report presented, during the year 2018, 64,699 children and adolescents have benefited from the strategy.

Similarly, 6,500 parents and 520 teachers and counselors have improved their knowledge and skills in the prevention of violence in schools.

According to the report presented, 72% of the schools that participate in the strategy have reduced the acts of violence against children and adolescents.

Another key element in the reduction of violence in schools has been the creation of school and community coexistence committees that encourage the participation of children in the management of the school environment.

Children and adolescents consulted have indicated that 80% of educational centers take into account their opinions in the construction of the coexistence response plan.

Marcial Solís, Minister of Education, said that “strengthening institutions is important, but much more important is that girls, boys and young people enjoy attending school, have security and confidence.”

The representative of UNICEF Honduras, Mark Connolly, said that “today we have seen concrete results, girls and boys who can attend the school to learn useful things for their lives, in violence-free environments.

Claudia Sheinbaum, the first woman elected by popular vote to govern Mexico City

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from RT News

Throughout its history, Mexico City has had two women in charge of the Government. The first was in 1999: Rosario Robles was in charge of the government of the Mexican capital, appointed to replace Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, who was running for a third presidential candidacy.

Today, December 5, the Administration of the city returns to the hands of a woman, but unlike Robles, the new mayor was elected by popular vote on July 1. This is Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, who, in addition, during her inauguration was accompanied by the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is seen as her ‘political godfather’.


The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, accompanied Claudia Sheinbaum as she took the oath of office to become head of the Government of Mexico City. AMLO Press

“Today, as I become the Head of Government, it is a matter of pride for me to be faced with the commitment to transform the reality in which we live as the inhabitants of this beautiful city. We are not going to fail you!”

Sheinbaum, 56, a professor and PhD in Energy Engineering, has said that her government will be based on 12 main axes: austerity; open democratic government with zero tolerance for corruption; mobility; security; reconstruction of the city, as well as the improvement of the supply of drinking water.

Not only for those who voted for us, I am going to lead an honest, open, democratic, austere, inclusive government that acts with, for and for the citizenship, without distinction of party, religion or socioeconomic level, but putting all our effort to make of this, a city of rights, with justice and that diminishes the still serious social inequalities,” said the new mayor who has a degree in Physics, as she took the oath of office.

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Questions related to this article:


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

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

Her main campaign promise was to end corruption, which – based on her estimates – will mean a saving of 25,000,000,000 pesos.

One of the main announcements made this day was the abolition of the body of grenadiers, a security group that has been associated with various human rights violations in Mexico City; the members of the body will be added to other corporations and civil protection tasks.

The duo Obrador-Sheinbaum

“I am very pleased, because Claudia Sheinbaum is a woman with convictions, she is an intelligent woman, she is an honest woman and she is going to make a good government,” said the president of Mexico, prior to the scientist’s installation as mayor.

When he was the Head of Government of the then Federal District, between 2000 and 2005, Lopez Obrador appointed Sheinbaum Secretary of the Environment, a period in which important infrastructure was built for cars in Mexico City. During the campaign they were attacked by their political adversaries with regard to this.

Sheinbaum was also a spokesperson for the failed presidential candidacy of López Obrador in 2006, accompanying him later when he left the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) to found the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), a party that took her to the head of the Government of the mayor of Tlalpan in 2015, where she had to cope with the collapse of a school in the earthquake of September 19, 2017, which left a balance of 19 children and seven adults dead.

Less than three months later, on December 5, 2017, Sheinbaum left office as head of the then Tlalpan delegation with the aim of seeking the leadership of the Government of Mexico City.

After competing for the candidacy with her co-promoters Martí Batres and Ricardo Monreal, Claudia Sheinbaum became the party’s candidate after winning a poll among activists in August 2017

(Editor’s note: Readers may note that we often use Russian news sources to obtain information about events in the West, although almost identical information is available in Western news sources. News sources in the West generally prohibit the reprinting of their reports, while websites like RT welcome the publicity they receive when their articles are reprinted. For example, RT says in its usage statement: “The information on the website is considered public (unless otherwise indicated) and may be distributed or copied for non-commercial purposes (for personal, educational, scientific, etc.), always referring to the link of actualidad.rt.com.” )

Argentina: Thousands of women march to the Plaza de Mayo to demand justice for Lucía Pérez

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Radio Mitre

Under the slogan “We are all Lucia. Patriarchal justice is impunity, ” thousands of women marched to Plaza de Mayo to claim justice for Lucía Pérez, who was found dead in Mar del Plata in October 2016.


Those accused of femicide and sexual abuse were acquitted at the end of November. In opposition to this ruling, the demonstration occupied more than two city blocks.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Questions related to this article:

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

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“Justice for Lucia / we march for life not femicide / not one less / we want to live”, was the chant that became louder and louder in the minutes before six o’clock, when thousands of women began the mobilization .

Marta Montero, Lucia’s mother, along with her son Matías, came especially from Mar del Plata, where there was also a mobilization in which Father Guillermo participated, to make his claim heard before the Courts, the point where the concentration began. The young man, who cried during several moments of the march, had in his hands a portrait of his sister with the words: “Justice for Lucia: it was a femicide.” Her death, in 2016, had prompted the first national strike of women.

“Not one less, we want to live”, was one of the chants of the march, which stopped at Diagonal Norte and Cerrito so that the more than one hundred women who headed the march that reached Plaza de Mayo could lie down, as if dead, on the asphalt.

With photos of Lucía Pérez, women of all ages demanded Justice: from a little girl who is no more than 3 years old to Nelly Minyersky, historical reference of the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion, who has already passed 80. “Feminism is going to win, patriarchy is going to fall, it is going to fall”, was the cry that generated tears in some of the girls lying down on the pavement.

Spain: Professor Marta Gonzalo, Keynote Speaker at the International Congress of Mediation and Culture of Peace

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article by Raúl García Hémonnet for the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (translated by CPNN)

Marta Gonzalo, professor of private international law at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC), has been the European and Spanish representative in the second edition of the International Congress of Mediation and Culture of Peace. Her intervention focused on comparing experiences and mediation proposals between Latin America and the European Union.

The Second Edition of the International Congress of Mediation and Culture of Peace, held at the end of November in Panama, brought together academics and professionals from countries such as Panama, Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba and other European countries. The meeting served to carry out a joint reflection on the current panorama of mediation and the different paths towards the Culture of Peace.

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(click here for the Spanish version)

Question for this article:

Mediation as a tool for nonviolence and culture of peace

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The URJC professor focused on making several concrete proposals in her keynote address: ‘Experiences and proposals for mediation compared: Latin America – European Union’

Through these proposals, she invited all attendees to conduct collaborative practices in conflict management. Not only from the point of view of mediation and law but also from a real and effective collaboration from all areas involved in the resolution of conflicts.

She called for collaboration of legal, social, political and cultural actors to favor mediation and seek collaborative solutions to conflicts that satisfy all those involved. Based on these elements, the professor urged changes in all areas, proposing specific measures in the host country, Panama, with concrete proposals about information, education, legislation, training and dissemination.

She also invited all attendees to join the Conference of Universities for the Study of Mediation and Conflict (CUEMYC) and to work in the international framework and in a global manner on practices that encourage and encourage mediation towards an authentic culture of peace.

First Indigenous woman is elected Federal Deputy in Brazil

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

Special for CPNN by Myrian Castello, on the basis of information from CIMI, El Pais and BBC

Joênia Wapichana has been elected as a federal deputy in Brazil, the first indigenous woman to occupy the position in 194 years of history of Parliament. She is a a lawyer, 43 years old, and was elected with more than 8,000 votes. “Everyone has a mission in life. Mine is to defend indigenous collective rights,” she says in her Instagram account. This is the second time that an indigenous is elected to the Chamber of Deputies. The first was Mário Juruna.


Photo: Valdir Wasmann

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

Question for this article

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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Among the cases that she can defend as an elected Federal Representative are indigenous collective rights, the struggle for indigenous women, sustainable development, respect for the environment, transparency, ethics and the fight against corruption.

In an interview with the Indigenous Missionary Council Joenia reiterates the need to demarcate indigenous lands by FUNAI [National Indian Foundaion] based on the criteria of the Constitution. As a strategy, she intends to begin her mandate as a member of the federal government, to devote her work to combat anti-indigenous proposals and to listen to all proposals considered as priorities by organizations and entities that defend indigenous rights.

 Through dialogue with indigenous peoples and organizations, Joênia intends to propose a system of indigenous school education of its own, to have laws that recognize indigenous professionals in other areas, and also in the long term to develop specific public policies for youth and women, in addition to working on sustainability and partnerships.

Colombia: Today the Truth Commission begins its mandate

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article from El Espectador (translation by CPNN)

The Truth Commission, which was born out of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, begins its mandate this Thursday [November 29] to clarify what happened during half a century of armed conflict.

With a symbolic ceremony, held in Corferias de Bogotá, this Thursday will begin on the day zero of this extrajudicial entity, which, for three years, will be challenged to hear, understand and interpret the voices of the actors of the armed conflict.

Its mission: to build a final report that establishes patterns of violence and facts of victimization. In the words of Father Francisco de Roux, president of the Truth Commission, from this day we are on a path that seeks reconciliation and that we will not repeat what happened.

“We hope we can contribute to Colombia seeking the truth in a sincere, transparent way, which is a public good and is the responsibility of all of us in Colombia. We hope to contribute in depth with our communication and pedagogy and with the Casas de la Verdad that we are starting to open in different regions in the form of a mobile team with the communities,” he said in an interview with the Justice for Peace chapter of Colombia2020 .

They will be eleven commissioners of the truth – accompanied by an interdisciplinary team – who will go to nine regions of the country and through mobile groups will collect testimonies from all sectors that will voluntarily provide information on the most serious facts of the conflict.

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

 

Question related to this article:

Truth Commissions, Do they improve human rights?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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“This division of the country, and the location of the 26 houses of truth, are the product of the six months of work carried out by the Commission. During this time they also defined patterns of victimization that they intend to study, for example, torture, forced displacement, sexual violence, etc.,” said Truth Commissioner Saul Franco.

In addition to victim organizations, other organizations have approached the Commission, including members of the Military Forces, members of the former FARC and paramilitaries. However, as De Roux acknowledged, the political sector has not approached them. Former President Ernesto Samper – he revealed – has been one of the few who has expressed his intention to give his testimony before the Truth Commission.

It should be remembered that the truth commission is an extrajudicial entity that will not make judgments or assign individual responsibilities. “We must be aware that testifying to the Commission has an advantage: we are not judges, we are not going to punish anyone. We will protect the testimonies we receive. We have to use them to interpret what happened, unless the person who brings it says: ‘I want to give this testimony in public, because I want to contribute in a public impact to the transformation of the country.’ “, said Roux.

For Juan Carlos Ospina, coordinator of Advocacy of the Colombian Commission of Jurists, the challenges of the commission can be summarized in three points: first, organize its work to address the knowledge of the armed conflict, which is very extensive and complex, in just three years ; second, to allow the widest participation of victims and citizens, and to manage expectations adequately (with publicity and transparency) about their work. Third, build trust from the beginning. Listen to all the actors in the conflict and generate conditions for the construction of a culture of peace (respect, coexistence, reconciliation, co-responsibility and non-repetition) based on their work. Fourth, carry out its work (keeping in mind its complexity) not to judge wherever possible in view of the adverse scenario for peace created by the change of government and congress.

Finally, another of the Commission’s challenges is to face the resistances of the sectors that question their positions and their suitability. The wide variety of voices and the inclusiveness of the story, as the commissioners affirm, will be decisive for their legitimacy.

Colombia’s rural radio stations are a key to peace

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from Vision of Humanity

Community radio stations are a hopeful medium for improving the free flow of information in Colombia, especially in the poorest and most remote regions. 

I want you to imagine a dilapidated but colourful radio station studio, nestled in verdant Colombian jungle and protected overhead by a dense canopy. Inside, a man speaks into a microphone. He strategically omits his name from his broadcast for fear of an armed group active in a village nearby.


Colombia has been at war for 60 years. It is one of the longest wars in modern history and is perpetuated by poverty, political underrepresentation and a lack of access to healthcare, education or land rights for rural people. In the mid-1960s, armed militias emerged from both ends of the political spectrum in these rural areas, many joining the FARC – the Armed Forces of the Republic of Colombia, the largest leftist rebel army in the country and some joining hard-right paramilitaries with corrupt ties to state security forces. In this context, the history of community radio runs deep in Colombia. In October 2016, former-President Juan Manuel Santos signed an historic peace agreement with FARC.

The agreement stipulated a commitment to media reform and community radio projects “in their production and dissemination of content to foster a culture of peace”.Today, some 450 internationally recognised community radio stations operate throughout rural and regional Colombia, actively opposing the armed conflict. Radio is a cheap and relatively accessible medium for most rural-dwelling Colombians in areas with poor infrastructure, no internet or electricity access. Inexpensive, battery-powered radios become a key source of information.

Community radio stations in Colombia date back to the early 1940s. Grassroots movements for peace used radio to protest against the treatment of rural farmers and poor families and to whistle blow the activity of illegal armed groups in their communities. In her book Citizens’ Media Against Armed Conflict, Clemencia Rodríguez highlights the significant role local media projects have played in networking grassroots organisations for peace in Colombia and in disrupting armed groups’ recruitment of young men. However, some stations are highjacked by armed groups and religious authorities with their own motives. Radio is a powerful medium.

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Question related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

Journalism in Latin America: Is it turning towards a culture of peace?

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Community radio stations and grassroots activists often become targets of armed groups, who see media projects as attempts to dissuade local people against their violent ideologies. In the post-peace agreement phase, it is critical that the international community, the Colombian Government and non-government organisations work together, to afford security measures to local radio stations and grassroots media workers.

According to a 2018 investigation by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Colombia is still one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. The World Press Freedom Index situates Colombia at a dismal 130 out of 180 countries. At most risk are those journalists situated in rural zones, where clashes between armed groups and drug cartels are frequent.The peace agreement in October 2016 saw a ceasefire and demobilisation of record numbers of FARC troops. However, other armed groups with similar ideologies to FARC remain active, such as the People’s Liberation Army, as well as right-wing paramilitaries and drug cartels. According to Human Rights Watch, right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia are responsible for a disproportionate number of extrajudicial killings, intimidation of journalists and censorship of violent events.

In Colombia, international and national policymakers, NGOs and citizens recognise local radio stations’ contributions to peace. The earliest examples of community radio networks supported by USAID, the EU and UNESCO, include Popular Cultural Action (ACPO). ACPO plays a role in educating rural communities and enabling them to have a voice on the aforementioned root causes of conflict in Colombia. Understanding how best to address these issues in the future remains a critical challenge for transitional justice policy. To build Positive Peace in the nation, local voices must be heard.

Organisations such as the Colombian Federation of Journalists and the Communication System for Peace (SIPAZ) today help to network local media projects and to ensure funding is directed to them. Funding is particularly critical given Colombia’s highly monopolised media context. According to RSF, small scale media projects have to compete for audience interest against more lucrative, pervasive media conglomerates and their ties to political and economic elites.

In August 2018, President Iván Duque, leader of the far-right Democratic Centre Party succeeded Santos. Duque opposed the peace agreement and its approach to transitional justice, vowing to renegotiate the agreement and prioritise justice for victims if elected. Ironically, it is victim’s voices that have been silenced in the process – the majority of peace agreement ‘yes’ voters are located in areas where the conflict has caused the most devastation. Duque’s campaign attracted voters from urban areas, but many rural voters lacked access to information on Duque’s political objectives or a medium through which to voice their concerns.

The link between access to information and peace is clear. Educational and talkback programmes on community radio stations have, and continue to be, significant platforms. Rural consumers can access information, have an opinion on political and justice processes and hold Duque’s government to account in the post-peace agreement phase.Evidently, these rural radio stations are key to peace because they are located where the majority of violence takes place, where international and even urban Colombian journalists rarely travel and where local people truly know and understand the causes and impact of conflict on their communities. This does not need to be a complex process. Rural communities have already laid the groundwork. They need recognition and support. Recognition that what they do makes a difference and support in one of the most hostile contexts in the world.

Peace Boat brings anti-war message to Cuba

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Granma

The danger posed to the world by the existence of nuclear weapons marked the focus of the debate in the Forum for Peace and Revolution, organized by the Japanese Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Peace Boat, which this November docked at the port of Havana for the nineteenth time, and the second this year.

A message, signed by several civil society organizations, including the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, the Cuban Movement for Peace, and the Cuban Association of the United Nations, reiterated Cuba’s firm commitment to strengthening and consolidating international treaties on disarmament.


Departure of the Peace Boat, November 4, 2018, with 1,200 passengers from 22 countries on board. The Boat headed to Jamaica after its stay in Havana. Photo: Orlando Perea

“Seventy-three years have passed since the criminal atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and humanity continues to be threatened by the existence of more than 14,400 nuclear weapons, of which 3,750 are deployed and almost 2,000 are on operational alert,” read the text released in the presence of two survivors of the 1945 attacks on Japan.

In addition, young people were called on to join this struggle, raise awareness regarding the threat of a nuclear disaster, and defend humanity’s right to a future of peace. “Together with the nations that long for an end to all wars, and with the power of civil society at the international level, we will continue to demand that nuclear weapons prohibition agreements be complied with until their total elimination, and we will contribute to the construction of a culture of peace around the world,” highlighted the Cuban message.

The heartbreaking and eloquent testimony of those who experienced the horrors of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, known as hibakushas, moved those present in the forum, as they described horrific images of walking among a multitude of corpses and burned people, whose faces no longer resembled those of human beings, screaming desperately for water.

Michiko Tsukamoto and Tamiko Sora were just girls at the time of the explosion, but it remains present in their memory. They suffered the loss of their loved ones, and today are among the few remaining survivors. They continue to talk about the tragedy because they recognize that the magnitude of the atomic attack has not yet been fully understood by all.

The Forum was also attended by Mako Ando, a Japanese youth representative committed to a world free of nuclear weapons, who works to raise awareness of the dangers posed if humanity fails to denuclearize. Referring to the hibakushas, she noted: “They suffer when they tell their stories, but they do so again and again because they do not want anyone else to experience such barbarism.”

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(Click here for the Spanish version of this article)

Question related to this article:

Peace Boat: Building a Culture of Peace around the World

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Speaking on the panel, D.Sc Leyde Rodríguez Hernández condemned the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: “We live in a time of enormous threats to international peace and security. The United States, the same power that has imposed an unjust and illegal economic, commercial, and financial blockade on the Cuban people, causing enormous human and material damages, has taken the initiative to destroy multilateralism in international relations and, with its devastating policy, dismantle the system of international treaties and agreements that served as a foundation for peace and security after WWII.”

He explained that nuclear weapons and missile defense systems today represent a serious threat to humanity, and the fight for their prohibition and total elimination should be of the highest priority, as a duty and a right of the peoples.

“The maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons consumes much of the resources that could and should be destined for economic development, job creation, the reduction of poverty and hunger, health, education, and to prevent and combat natural disasters caused by global climate change. These resources should be redirected toward the development and fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals included in the 2030 Agenda,” the vice-rector of the Higher Institute of International Relations added.

The Forum for Peace and Revolution was dedicated to commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolutionary triumph, the 73rd anniversary of the criminal U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to the memory of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, who received members of the boat twice (in 2010 and 2012).

Natsue Onda, director of this Peace Boat trip, condemned the interventionist policy of the U.S. blockade against Cuba, and said she was pleased to hold the event aboard the ship, in the presence of so many Cubans. She highlighted the friendship between Cuba and the organization, who share the same commitments in this field.

The Peace Boat has been visiting Cuba since 1989, and this is its 99th voyage around the world, carrying a message of peace and friendship. On this occasion, the ship was carrying 1,200 passengers of 22 nationalities (most of them Japanese), who toured different historic and tourist sites of Havana, and exchanged with community organizations related to senior citizens, culture, and with students.

In a press conference, travel coordinator Adrián Godínez stressed that passengers were very interested in visiting the island, thanks to the stories of previous participants, who highlighted the warm welcome received. Other motivations to visit include the popularization of Cuban culture on the Asian continent, especially salsa music, and interest in the history of the Cuban Revolution and its leaders.

The Peace Boat promotes its voyages online, on posters in public spaces, and through the 11 friendship with Cuba organizations that operate in Japan. The NGO Peace Boat received the Order of Solidarity awarded by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba in 2009.

As a result of the first meeting with passengers of the ship in 2010, the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, wrote a reflection titled “We will never forget,” in which he noted: “Now, as for your slogan – which, in my view has very special value, ‘Learn from past wars to build a future of peace,’ will undoubtedly always have meaning – at this moment it is more relevant than ever. I would dare say, without fear of being mistaken, that never in the history of humanity was there such a dangerous moment as this…”


Artist’s Portraits Show Migrant Caravan’s Hope, Joy: ‘These Are Regular People’

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from 12 News Online

A third-generation Mexican-American artist hopes to show fellow Americans a more personal view of individuals in the migrant caravan making their way to the United States from Central America.
“These are regular people,” said Scarlett Baily, a Mexico City visual artist who talked to some of the 5,000 or so people in the caravan while they rested in Mexico recently. As she considered how to help, she said she “decided to go draw portraits.”


(Click on the photo to enlarge)

“It was hilarious, delightful, and the joy and courage of this crew is truly contagious,” Baily told HuffPost. 

President Donald Trump has been claiming the caravan is an invasion, filled with terrorists, gang members and drug dealers. But Baily’s drawings show the worn but hopeful faces of people in the midst of an epic trek from poverty and violence in their home countries to the U.S., where many aim to apply for asylum

Trump, whose campaigning ahead of last week’s elections relied on fear of the migrants, ordered more than 7,000 active-duty troops to the border to deter asylum-seekers. He has been silent on the topic on social media  since the election. 

Their story “felt too mythical to be real,” Baily said via email, and she “had to meet these people.” 

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Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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“I think the bravest people on this journey are the mothers and children,” Baily said. News coverage, she added, “paints a very different picture of what I saw in my time spent at the camp.”

“Images of desperation, exhaustion, and suffering dominate a lot of the reports, when the reality is, there is actually a lot of joy,” she said. “This journey they are on is indeed hard-core. But imagine the conditions that someone leaves behind. I think there is a certain sense of freedom that comes with this decision.”

Mexico City officials turned a stadium into a camp where the migrants could pause on their journey, and “offered them every type of city service,” according to The New York Times. Doctors and dentists provided free checkups.

The caravan departed on Saturday morning to continue the walk north.

Baily said 25-year-old Jean Carlos told her he’s from Choloma, Honduras, worked in a bodega, goes to church every Sunday, loves to drive, and one day hopes to own a Mazda. He’s heading to Canada with cans of tuna in his pocket. 

Two young girls, Lincy and Nataly, are traveling with their mother, father, and 1-month old brother, who was born in Honduras just before they left. Lincy told Baily that she hates brushing her hair. Nataly loves to draw.

The family told Baily that traveling has been hard, but “so many families on the caravan together have created a great support system.”

Baily also spoke with a barber named Osman, whose friends call him the “Talento Catracho,” or the local Honduran talent. He told her he’s walking “because he wants to be able to support himself with his craft, without fearing the mafia system taking over Honduras.”

“Sitting with someone to do their portrait is a very personal exchange,” Baily said. The mood of most of those she talked to, she added, is dominated by hope. 

“My hope is that the caricatures provide a nice memory for people who left everything behind, a moment to feel celebrated, rooted for, and an alternative to what we see in mass media,” Baily said. “Perhaps these portraits may swap fear of migrants for a collective empathy.”  

[Click here to see more of Baily’s drawings of people in the caravan.]