Pacifists Without Borders (PWB) and Federico Mayor Zaragoza condemned this state of affairs on the opening day of the Peace Summit, which will continue through Sunday.
During a videoconference intervention, Mayor Zaragoza spoke from the headquarters of his Foundation for the Culture of Peace in Madrid, saying, “We cannot tolerate the fact that more than 60,000 people die of hunger every day.”
This Spanish politician and scientist is one of 31 experts and activists from 20 countries invited to participate, either personally or by satellite, in the summit that was inaugurated today by the leftist mayor of Bogota Samuel Moreno and Father Francisco de Roux, head of the Jesuit Order in Colombia.
The event’s objective is to spawn a “citizens’ movement” for peace, and includes the adoption of the “Bogota Manifesto for World Peace” and the presentation of a petition to nominate the Arhuaco, Wiwa, Kogui and Kankuamo indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in the north of Colombia for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Throughout the four days of the encounter, experts will put forth proposals for resolving the current humanitarian crisis and the armed conflict in Colombia and toward achieving world peace.
“We have to fight to assure a progressive change from this unbridled, disproportionate military spending to investment in renewable energy and food production”, asserted Mayor Zaragoza, who was Director-General of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999.
The same sentiment was expressed by Guillermo Solarte, director of Pacifists Without Borders, after noting that with only a portion of the world’s “colossal arms budget” we could finance the solution to the hunger, health and education crises that the world suffers.
Solarte, however, showed himself to be less optimistic in his observation that the logic of military proliferation grows out of the need to maintain by force a system of world domination, “in which islands of opulence and waste exist alongside seas of poverty and want”.
“Poverty scourges a country that is a military objective”, the director of Pacifists Without Borders pointed out, disagreeing with those who defend military proliferation on the theory that all players must approach parity in their arms capacity to prevent a worldwide Armageddon.
The Colombian activist refuted the concept of parity with the observation that the military capacity of Great Britain alone “would be sufficient to bring the world to an end”; a reality that Mayor Zaragoza has stated must be changed, once and for all.
Mayor Zaragoza stated that from the World Peace Summit, “We wish to say clearly and unequivocally that the transition from violence, force and war to dialogue, conciliation and peace cannot be put off any longer”.
“We have to prepare ourselves for peace”, insisted the Spanish pacifist, recognizing the decisions taken by American president Barack Obama to cancel the anti-missile shield project in Europe and to take the lead in nuclear disarmament as important steps toward conciliation, which Mayor Zaragoza considers to be the ethical imperative of his generation.
The scientist said that these steps will allow humanity to shift from an war economy to one based in sustainable world development, from a longstanding situation of force to one of conciliation achieved via the United Nations and a multilateral system in which all countries, not only the most powerful, are taken into account.
“We will build peace, because it is the greatest legacy that we now have to bequeath to future generations”, affirmed the former director of UNESCO; generations on behalf of whom this peace summit sends a message to the world that, “now, in the dawning of a new century and a new millennium, resignation and submission have run their course.”
*(Translation provided by Jenni Lukac)*