Letter to Obama, by Pérez Esquivel

12.05.2011 - Buenos Aires - Redacción Chile

Indignation at the attitude of sections of the population in the USA, of European heads of state and other countries which came out in support of the killing of Bin Laden, ordered by your government and your satisfaction in an alleged justice.

They did not seek to detain him and try him for the crimes which he has supposedly committed, which casts greater doubt on them; the objective was to kill him.

The dead cannot talk and for fear that the accused could say things which were not desirable for the USA, he was killed to ensure that “death of a dog would end the madness”, without considering that it only increases it.

When they awarded you the Nobel Peace Prize, which we are both recipients of, I sent you a letter which said: “Barack, I was very surprised that they awarded you the Nobel Peace Prize, but now that you have it, you must use it for Peace among peoples. You have every opportunity to do so, to end wars and start to reverse the serious situation which your country and the world are living in.”

However, you have increased hatred and betrayed the principals established in the electoral campaign before your people, such as ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and closing the prisons in Guantanamo and Abu Graib in Iraq. You have not managed to do any of this and, on the contrary, you decided to start another war against Libya, supported by NATO and the shameful United Nations resolution. This lofty organisation, diminished and unable to think for itself, lost its way and submitted to the whims and interests of the dominant powers.

The founding base of the UN is the defence and promotion of Peace and dignity among peoples. Its preamble states: “We, the peoples of the world….” today absent from this organisation.

I want to recall a mystic and teacher who had a great influence in my life, the Trappist monk from the Getsemani Abbey in Kentucky, Thomas Merton, who said “The greatest necessity of our time is cleaning the enormous amount of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds and turns all political and social life into an illness of the masses. Without this domestic cleaning, we cannot begin to see. If we cannot see, we cannot think.”

Barack, you were very young during the Vietnam War, perhaps you don’t remember the North American people’s fight to oppose the war.

Those who died, were injured and mutilated in Vietnam still suffer the consequences even today.

Thomas Merton said, looking at a postmark which had just arrived “The U.S Army, key to peace”. No army is the key to peace. No nation has the key to anything but war. Power has nothing to do with peace. The more men increase military power, the more they violate and destroy peace.”

I have shared with and supported the veterans of the Vietnam War, particularly Brian Wilson and his companions who were victims of this war and of all wars.

Life has a certain *je ne sais quoi*, an unexpected and surprising fragrance and beauty that God gave us for all humanity and which we must protect to leave future generations with a fairer and more fraternal life, re-establishing the balance with Mother Earth.

If we don’t act to change the current situation of suicidal arrogance which drags peoples down and which extinguishes hope, it will be difficult to get out and see the light; humanity deserves a better destiny.

You know that hope is like the lotus which grows in the mud and flowers in all its glory, showing its beauty.

Leopoldo Marechal, a great Argentinian writer, said that; “you get out of the maze by going up.”

And I think Barack, that after following your mistaken paths, you find yourself in a maze unable to find the exit and you bury yourself deeper and deeper in violence and uncertainty, consumed by the power to dominate. You think that the world is at the USA’s feet because it has strength and weapons and you invade countries with complete impunity. It’s a painful reality, but there is also the resistance of the peoples who don’t give in to the powerful.

There are so many atrocities which have been committed by your country in the world, too many to list. It’s a challenge for historians who will have to investigate and understand the behaviours, politics, large and small which have led the USA to the monoculture of minds which doesn’t allow them to see other realities.

Bin Laden, the alleged ideological author of the attack on the Twin Towers, has been identified as the Devil incarnate who terrorised the world, and your government’s propaganda identified him as the “axis of evil”, using this to declare the wars that the industrial military complex wanted, to place its products of death.

You know that investigators of the September 11 tragedy stated that the attack had a lot of “auto-coup” about it, like the plane into Pentagon and the prior evacuation of offices in the towers. An attack which provided a motive to begin the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan and now against Libya, lying that everything is done to save the people, in the name of “freedom and defending democracy”, and with the cynicism of saying that the death of women and children is “collateral damage”. I saw this in Iraq, in Baghdad, with the combing of the city and the children’s hospital and in the refuge for children who were victims of this “collateral damage.”

Words are empty of value and meaning, where killing is called death and the USA has finally “killed” Bin Laden. I am not in any way trying to make excuses for him, I am completely against all terrorism, both by such armed groups, and the state terrorism that your country carried out in various parts of the world, supporting dictators, imposing military bases and armed intervention, using violence to maintain its position on the global axis of power. Today is there only one “axis of evil”? What would you call it?

This is why the people of the USA live in such fear of the reprisals by those they call the “axis of evil”. The simple hypocrisy of defending the indefensible.

Peace is a dynamic of life in relations between people and communities; it’s a challenge for the human conscience, it’s a difficult, daily and hopeful path, where people build their own lives and their own history. Peace cannot be given, it is built and this is what you’re lacking son, courage to assume the historic responsibility with your people and with humanity.

You can’t live in the maze of fear and domination of those who govern the USA, ignoring International Treaties, Pacts and Protocols of governments which sign but do not ratify any and don’t fulfil the agreements, but talk in the name of freedom and right.

How can you talk about Peace if you do not want to honour anything, except your own country’s interests?

How can you talk about freedom when you keep innocent people prisoners in Guantanamo, in the USA, in Iraqi jails, like Abu Graib and in Afghanistan?

How can you talk about human rights and peoples’ dignity when you constantly violate them and blockade those who don’t share you ideology and who must endure your abuse?

How can you send armed forces to Haiti after the devastating earthquake and not humanitarian aid for its suffering people?

How can you talk about freedom when or massacre people in the Middle East and Foster wars and torture, in ongoing conflicts which bleed the Palestinians and Israelis?

Barack, look up out of your maze, you can find a guiding star, although, as Eduardo Galeano said, you know you can never reach it.

Try to be consistent with what you say and do, it’s the only way not to lose your path. It’s a challenge in life.

The Nobel Peace Prize is a tool to be used for people, never for personal vanity.

I wish you great strength and hope, and let’s hope that you have the courage to correct your path and find the wisdom of Peace.

5th May, 2011

*Translated from Spanish by Kirsty Cumming*

Categories: International, Opinions, Politics, South America

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