“Love is the basis which sustains life” she once wrote and patented it as “her phrase”. This Argentinean-Italian woman, who lives in Madrid, has travelled a long road and she tells us about her project “The end is the beginning in the heights”. We spoke to Victoria Manno in Mendoza, a few days after the World March closed in Punta de Vacas.
*What is the project “Peace in 6 continents” about?*
It is a challenge that began in the new century. In copying children when they cry for attention in order to be heard, from the American continent to the world, I climbed Aconcagua to demand an end to women and children suffering a violation of their rights on a daily basis. I also demanded that what is still pure in the human race wakes up. The experience was very positive, much more than I ever imagined. On 1st January I sent out the third message from Aconcagua. It was 25 degrees below zero and the thermic feeling was 40 degrees below zero. I reached Piedras Blancas, at 6,100 m above sea level. I felt a very strange sensation: I had walked 50km, I saw the peak in front of my eyes, I was climbing for 15 days, with just four hours to go… I was well acclimatised to the height but I could not feel my fingers or toes, I knew that if my fingers and toes had frozen they would have to be amputated. I could not go on! I sat on a stone and cried. However that was the moment when I understood that my mission was recently started, and that on my return I would continue sending messages through the five other continents every 1st January of the new century.
*How did you continue the project year after year?*
Each year I sought a new challenge with “The end is the beginning in the heights”. Accompanied by UNIFEM (UN Development Fund for Women) I carried the same message in 2001 from the 320m of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, in 2002 from the Wall of China, in 2003 visiting the Pyramids of Egypt, in 2004, on the monolith “Uluru”, and closing the first part of 2005 from the Antarctic continent, reaching the six continents. On 1st January 2006, I arrived in Central America and brought the message from the Valle de Teotihuacán, which for the Aztecs meant the place where men became gods, and it is considered the most important culture in the central area of Mexico and one of the most important archaeological areas in the world. In 2007 I demanded peace from Red Square in Moscow, in 2008 from the city of Petra in Jordan and in 2009, from Havana in Cuba. This year and in joining the World March for Peace and Non Violence, I returned to Aconcagua.
*What did participating in the World March mean to you?*
I feel privileged to be part of this World March for Peace and Non Violence in order to raise awareness in the world of how essential Peace is on Earth and to wake everyone up to what is pure in the human race. I thought that the World March was something essential and we must not forget that this started recently.
I had the opportunity of being at the start in New Zealand, on 2nd October, in Madrid on 14th November, and at the end on 2nd January 2010. Along with Montserrat Ponsa Prieto, one of the main organisers of the World March and members of the base team, we were the first ones to leave Madrid for New Zealand, we set off via California, returning via Hong Kong, thus opening the way symbolically for the World March for Peace and Non Violence to pass through, going around the world in 10 days prior to accompanying the World March the whole way through New Zealand.
The World March was achieved and that is what is important, now we must work together to reach the long-awaited World Peace that respects Human Rights.
I would have liked the March’s closure to have taken place somewhere more popular than Punta de Vacas.
*How did you join the March?*
I contacted Rafael de la Rubia (coordinator of World without Wars) directly, we had a meeting and I began to work in the Press Cabinet of World without Wars and without Violence. At the same time I began to prepare the initiative, which happened at the same time we met, to climb Mount Aconcagua to carry the World March for Peace and Non Violence flag, together with my altruistic message to the world.
*Tell me about the ascent to Aconcagua…*
On 17th December 2009, I began to climb the Colossus of America, trying to make it to the peak for 1st January 2010, always with the slogan “The end is the beginning in the heights, Peace in 6 continents”, in other words, “The end of war, the beginning of Peace” and in the heights, because I began it on Mount Aconcagua 6962m above sea level. Peace in 6 Continents, because every 1st January, I send my message from the most representative place of each of the 6 Continents. Regarding the ascent, it was difficult to get a guide. At 5400 m, I broke the closing on the tent and the Thermos flask. On the final night I went outside into the elements, because I felt less cold outside than inside. It was 25 degrees below zero; storms and winds of up to 85km an hour were being reported. I was fine, I felt safe physically, but the guide I hired did not resolve the logistic problems. A climber had died at that time from frostbite at the summit and I witnessed them carrying the frozen body hung from the helicopter. Due to the problems I experienced and not being able to resolve them, I decided to descend, not to continue putting my life at risk and it was not easy.
*From all your experience throughout the last ten years, is there any moment in particular that you remember?*
Apart from my recent experience with the World March, I cannot forget when I began in 1999 with the project “The end is peace…” and I had to confront all the prejudices that could have harmed my work as actor, journalist and also as a woman when I said that I was going to climb Aconcagua to start the new millennium. I also remember in 2005 when I visited the Antarctic Continent. The only people who can go there are those with a pacific or scientific objective and I was authorised to stay to carry out my project. It was there that I could feel for the first time in my life what true human solitude is.
– More information on Victoria Manno –
Link World March:
Start of the World March:
*(Translation provided by Rhona Desmond)*