Friday, April 30, 2010

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


But to transition from passive recipients to active emissaries was very difficult and frequently risky. In addition to the ballot box, other forms of expression lacked influence and were often rigged. But with distance participation the emancipation of citizens vis-à-vis the powers that be will change radically in a very few years.

In that way, in less time than many may foresee, the 21st century will (finally!) be the century of the people, of the force of reason and never more of the reason of force, of a history worthy of the faculties that distinguish each unique human being, thus ending the history described by Fukoyama, which has so tarnished human dignity from the beginning of time. Thus, the last “Whereas” of the Preamble of the Declaration that inspired this article will have been implemented: “Considering that the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”… .

This concept of larger freedom, which those who drafted the Declaration so clearly envisioned in the terrible aftermath of World War II, is now within our reach. Let us serenely but courageously loosen our bonds and remove the muzzles from so many silenced voices. The provisions of the Universal Declaration will soon be a reality. I urge everyone to read them, especially politicians and parliamentarians. And even more specifically, those who so often talk of Human Rights when it is obvious that they have never read the Declaration. Or that they haven’t read it very carefully.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


When at last there are those who are able to become “educated,” that is, able to “be themselves”,… when the time has come not only to vote and be counted in elections, but to count and to be taken into account,… then the immense powers of the media unfurl their wings to reduce those citizens to mere passive spectators, to indifferent witnesses who can be activated and deactivated with Pavlov’s famous bell.

Until one day, after years and years of fragile and manipulative democracies, modern communications technology arrives with the possibility of building in cyberspace what “real life” has here-to-fore been able to prevent. With mobile phones and internet we can now change a reality that has been obstinately formed and remains unperturbed. We can now mobilize millions of human beings capable at last of joining their voices and wishes, to prompt a peaceful but steadfast rebellion, which the guardians of inertia and privilege, of the storehouses of the past, never allowed us to even dream of.

And this is because they ignore the next paragraph of the Preamble of the Universal Declaration: “Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law…”. Anything that subjugates and reduces human beings must be eliminated to prevent a justified popular uprising among those who have suffered so much and continue to do so.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


The voice / that could have been the remedy / but for fear / was nothing”.

It is time to take action against those who perceive the world simply as an immense market and the world’s inhabitants as mere consumers. It is time to apply our great stock of available knowledge to meet the challenges of a raging environment.

We must recover from our apathy, our fear. The first paragraph of the Preamble to the Universal Declaration that it has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of human kind "the advent of a world in which human beings, freed from fear and want, shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief…”.

From time immemorial humans have existed in very limited spaces, both physically and spiritually. Thus, with the exception of a few great minds capable of overcoming that confinement, they lived in fear of angry and merciless gods and lords of the manor here on earth. All possible efforts have been made to prevent citizens from abandoning their status as vassals. Until the 1980s education was always limited to teaching basic literacy and basic instruction on the part of the colonial powers, and authoritarian systems promoted indoctrination, dependence and herd mentality. There is no greater ignorance than the ignorance of a trapped man, and “kidnapped thought” (as Susan George calls it) leads to superstition… And this generates fanaticism, dogmatism, obstinacy and cowardice.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All of us should read and reread the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it is worth the effort to continue fighting for the great ethical principles our daily behavior. In order to realize that we "are endowed with reason and conscience" to remedy the temptation to resort to force.

All of us, in solidarity without our fellow men, living together and devoted to each other “in a spirit of brotherhood”, in the words of Article 1.

All equal in dignity: regardless of the color of our skin, gender, beliefs or ideologies… All of us –as the Declaration indicates in its Preamble- studying and remembering both the letter and the spirit of Human Rights, at all levels and in all types of educational institutions, in the communications media, in parliaments, in municipal councils, at all levels of government, in NGOs, in international agencies… “without distinction based on the political status of countries and territories”.

This “active reading” is urgent, since our present errors are not being remedied. We are not decidedly replacing plutocracy with multilateralism. We are not finally closing tax havens that facilitate trafficking (in drugs, weapons and people!...). We are not regulating speculation or irresponsible economics. We are not off-setting the power of the media. We are not taking steps toward a new productive model of sustainable global development. As was the case before the crisis, the important thing is to barter, sell… to manufacture at the lowest possible cost by delocalizing to the East, where no one cares about the living conditions of the “manufacturers” in those countries, nor whether their human rights are protected… More of the same… while society continues to remain silent, looking the other way.

Although they were incapable of foreseeing or preventing the crisis, public institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as hardly impartial private institutions, are now acting in the interests of those who caused the present serious situation.

And what are the scientific, academic and artistic communities doing? They are generally distracted, subjugated spectators, controlled from afar by the media that prevent them from reflecting on our serious problems and acting in consequence.

African Woman, Woman!

Monday, April 12, 2010

In an unforgettable late afternoon interview in Pretoria with the much admired President Mandela, he told me that there will never be a culture of peace until women have greater influence in decision-making.

A study conducted in that regard by UNESCO showed that in 1996 the influence of women was hardly 5%, which meant that 95% of all decisions were at that time made by men. Thus, it is no surprise that throughout the centuries a culture of force and imposition has prevailed over a culture of dialogue, an inherent respect for life, and a constant desire to refrain from the use of violence.

Now, with the favorable evolution we have seen, especially in the last few years, the percentage of women in decision-making positions is nearly 9%. And soon, with 18-20%, there will be a substantial change in the “culture” of society, and a transition from force to the word, to conversation and conciliation will finally begin to be possible.

Yes, at the dawn of this century and millennium, an event so vitally important as the appearance of women in positions of power can finally transpire, when previously throughout history their presence was normally fleeting purely and anecdotic.

For the last few days a great meeting in support of the participation of women has been held in Valencia. I believe it is one of the now irreversible phenomena that should fill us all with hope. I would like to underscore again that it is precisely in Africa where I have found people with so much wisdom, generosity and selflessness, and especially women, who at dawn each day must “invent” a way to survive with dignity until sundown, defenseless and without the aid that has been promised so many times.

If Europe would only exchange know-how for wisdom!, with the African people to whom we owe so much, and who bear us so little resentment despite the shady relations we have had with them, despite slavery, despite how even today we continue to exploit their fantastic natural resources while looking the other way.

"All human beings, equal in dignity", is the essential basic principle that must now be urgently applied for the good of all, for all women and for African women in particular.

In 1995, at a great meeting held in Beijing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, which was devoted precisely to the fundamental role of women in development and in the transition from a culture of dominance and violence to a culture of conciliation and peace, instead of giving a speech as Director General of UNESCO, I read the following poem:


you brought a new


on your lips.

But we wouldn’t

let you sing

although you are

the voice

of half

the world.


your eyes

viewed the world

from another perspective.

But we refused

to see the depth

and the warmth

of your glance.


you carried in your skin

of all colors

the seeds

of tomorrow,

the light

capable of illuminating

unknown paths,


but peaceful roads,



woman-root and fruit

of love

and tenderness.


your outstretched hands

and your laps

are immense places

of refuge

and comfort.

But we have never understood

the strength of your embrace

nor the cry

of your silence,

and we wander

without compass

or relief.


having no one

who owns you

but yourself,

you will rise,

from this day forward

equal and free,


in the same dream

to be henceforth


First Things First: JUSTICE

Friday, April 9, 2010

Accept... and then appeal, if warranted, when the time comes.

Those who seek to influence the initial proceedings in a court case, independently of their opinion as to whether the matter has merit, seem to know little of what constitutes a State, its institutional pillars and the prerogatives of its citizens. They will have time to appeal if they deem it right and needed.

The justice system is not infallible. It is based on the strict application of laws, which frequently need to be amended, improved or adapted. And when there is manifest partiality in the interpretation or application of the law –which is particularly untenable when it reflects political bias- those affected have every right to appeal to the highest national and international courts.

First, carefully read the laws or draft laws; second, respect the judicial process and the confidentiality of criminal investigations. Later, when warranted, express your disagreement with the judgment and appeal it. And proceed to pass better laws and amend them.

We have fought too long for freedom, including the unrestricted freedom of expression, to now passively and timidly contemplate how the power of the media permeates everything, convincing the people that those “presumed guilty” are not, and that those who discovered and accused them should directly be deemed guilty, without any presumption of innocence.

But they won’t get their way. The people can put up with a lot, but not this much. They are distracting us excessively, with spectacles for the masses, with football players or race car drivers, detailing there successes and their injuries,... but not to the point of allowing justice, that great support for democrats and the foundation of a better future, to be manipulated so that the “good guys” appear to be the bad guys, and the “bad guys”, as if by magic, are exonerated of all responsibility.

Sooner than many expect, the 21st century will be the century of authentic citizen participation. And the people will react to such abuses and excesses.

More about Europe

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Those who found so much money to “rescue” the financial institutions that were to a large extent responsible for this current grave crisis, are now unable to find a few million to help Greece comply with the conditions likewise to a large extent imposed by the financial institutions, nor to clean up the environment, frenetically seeking funds that are less than the amount invested in weapons and military spending in 56 hours.

And they don’t dare close down the tax havens that give refuge to mafias, money laundering and trafficking in drugs and people... There are no clear movements toward multilateralism, while power continues to be centered in the plutocratic groups (G8 / G20) that have caused so much damage to our social, economic and environmental fabric on a worldwide scale.

They are once again buying and selling expensive war machinery... while Africa and other poor or impoverished countries continue to be ignored and exploited. They don’t dare replace NATO with their own defense system or to limit it to the North Atlantic... but without Europe having to relinquish its presence in the South Atlantic and in the Pacific (most importantly!) and without having the march to the drumbeat of our great ally. Friends, yes… subjects, no.

In other respects, without considering living standards or respect for human rights, the “globalizers” promoted the delocalization of production toward the East and a simultaneous delocalization of executives and a brain drain toward the West. The results are there for all to see.

Instead of daring to embrace a system based on sustainable global development, they insist that those who already live in the rich neighborhood of our global village should consume more. And the others can wait (but how long will they wait without rebelling?) until a few crumbs from the tables of abundance fall their way...

With the available knowledge and by reducing the immense daily military spending, together we could produce food for everyone, water for everyone, energy for everyone, housing for everyone... and we would be capable of improving health and the environmental conditions that we must bequeath to future generations.

Europe must not sink in a sea of bilateralism, between the United States– where only Obama’s outstanding character has, at least for the present, won out over the steely dense resistance of those who cling to the past, incapable of feeling a sense of solidarity toward those around them- and China, which has paradoxically been converted into the world’s factory by those who only seek short term profits. World democracy is the key: multilateralism. Europe must react quickly or in a few years it will have lost any possibility to assume a leadership role.

Rebellion in Cyberspace

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Until recently it was very difficult for citizens to express their opinions freely. The ballot boxes –which was already a lot-, are no longer enough. The immense amount of available information from all over the world, and in real time, should not represent a threat nor reduce us to mere passive recipients.

Today we have vast amounts of knowledge... and we can no longer sit back as silent, stunned accomplices. When global conscience and knowledge urge us to break our silence, when we are “compelled to have recourse to rebellion...", in the words of the brilliant Preamble to the Universal Declaration, we must express ourselves. And now, with modern communications technology, we need no longer remain as speechless fearful witnesses, distracted by the all-embracing entertaining but distorted influence of the power of the media.

People will be able to participate in cyberspace. Millions and millions of people will express their points of view. They will be citizens of new democracies in which power really emanates from the people, as proclaimed in Article 21.3 of the Universal Declaration.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Those currently in power should take note, those who are so busy with the same old policies, trying to convince the same people that the tried and true formulas no longer work, they should be aware that the roads to the future are being mapped out by the masses in cyberspace. Yes, a great change in on the horizon. The age of silent citizens has come to an end. It is the people’s hour. The time for a new global and planetary democracy.