Antonio Carvallo is one of the organizers of the WHF-Asia. With a background in law from the University of Chile, he joined the starting Humanist Movement founded by Silo, Argentine author and spiritual guide, in 1969. Over the subsequent years, he helped develop this current in Peru, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Australia and the United Kingdom. From 1989, as General Secretary of the Humanist International, he traveled to Zambia establishing high-level links with the Kaunda Government as it transitioned to multi-party elections. He worked in close collaboration with the Moscow Humanist Club and the Russian Academy of Science in the times of Perestroika. He was involved in the organization of the first Humanist Forum in Moscow in 1993. Presently, Antonio is occupied supporting the development of the World Humanist Forum in Asia. Here are his comments made during one of the weekly meetings of Forum organizers.

I will attempt to summarize some of the ideas we have expressed when discussing the forum:

The world is in a very difficult situation. Violence, poverty and malaise are on the increase everywhere, especially as a result of the pandemic. There is a big distortion of information. There are very hot problems that nobody seems to have a solution for. There is an increase of violence in all its different expressions, affecting both societies and individuals. The traditional media of information that we could trust to an extent; the nation-states and their institutions are failing, failing openly to the general public, failing in their objectives. Amazingly, the truth is they are lying and they are distorting reality, creating a situation which together with the pandemic, that we are still suffering, configure an unprecedented situation of great difficulty and suffering for humanity. Materially and psychologically difficult. It is a very critical period, and the crisis is experienced all over the world. This is a crisis of civilization, it happens before big transformations in society, a systemic change.

This is why we think it is so important now, to come forward and explain what do we, as Universalist Humanists, and like-minded organizations and individuals, believe are fundamental values capable of re-orientating this humanity in chaos: The human being has to be the central value of all social organization and no value can be placed above. When we talk about the human being, we include all beliefs, genders and sexual preferences, races, religions, cultures, ages… with all its diversities human beings are similar everywhere. No discrimination is ever tolerable. All change must be actioned in a non-violent manner.

We humans have similar needs and similar rights. This is not new. It has been consecrated and accepted by most nations in the world after the Second World War over 70 years ago, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But those human rights are not being applied and have been ignored. That is why it is so important to put all that right. The people in the base of our organizations need to have this clear, what we are aiming at.

Because of this disregard for fundamental sectors of our society and violations of fundamental human rights and because of the monopolies of power that have taken over the control of the nation-state in so many countries, there is no democracy. There is a fiction. The commonwealth is concentrated in a minority. There is an open abyss between greed and solidarity.

A group of transnational corporations in alliance with the local powers have appropriated the apparatus of the state. They use the national armies as if they were their personal police forces, creating conflicts as convenient to their interests. This happens in the United States, in Europe, in Asia in Africa. It happens almost everywhere. They have infiltrated and distorted the structure of the nation-state as a point of reference and organization for society.

This needs to be denounced and changed. The way to achieve this is by sharing, discussing and educating everyone. The people, the common person at the social base must acquire greater faith in its power and greater confidence that they can change things through non-violent procedures. The social movements have to become more self-aware of their potential to change. In that sense, we see lots of similarities in phenomena that are happening in some countries like Chile, in South America where I was born.

Recently, after many years of tolerating a brutal dictatorship and the following status quo defending governments of the right, the people woke up led by the younger generation and paralyzed the country in a non-violent continuous action that eventually forced the government to give in to their demands for equality fairness and constitutional change. The Movement won massively the last December elections, with the largest turnout on record, forming a government strictly democratic with lots of young people participating.  They have elected a 35-year-old president, the youngest in the country’s history, and about to assume its mandate in March. Now the new cabinet is composed of a majority of women, and the average age is under 50.

All this happened because the whole Chilean population reached a point of saturation. Because of the oppression, poverty, and inequal access to education, housing and health and the mismanagement and appropriation by an elite under the neo-liberal governments.

There are similarities between this political process in Chile and the Farmers Movement in India. The farmers’ unions have joined forces for over a year of non-violent struggle to force the neo-liberal government in Delhi to repeal laws they had approved allowing eventually the privatization of farming land by corporations.

We are starting to see in the present world, manifestations of a new order, a new way of participation and empowerment by the common people. When they get united organized and coordinated, with a clear orientation of what do they want and do not want. When the methodology in all cases is non-violent, that formula seems to be capable of transforming today’s society. The real power is The People. We are the blood and energy of the whole society. If we stop, all die.

The forum we are organizing is precisely to disseminate these ideas, these goals, the faith in the future of humanity and real Human Values. I think we have lots and lots of things in common. I think the efforts of Sudhir and our friends from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan Nepal and Bangladesh and Australia in the core team, are absolutely fantastic. I feel very inspired by all of this and I wanted to share this with you.”

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