Eduardo Galeano, spur for the urgent mobilization of civil society

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I think it is very important to underscore several aspects of Eduardo Galeano’s address delivered at the meeting sponsored IPS (Inter Press Service) and AECID (Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development) in Madrid on September 7, 2010.

Entitled "Some of the Capital Sins in a World Turned Upside Down”, he emphasized the importance of indigenous cultures; sexist traditions; failure to recognize reality; disdain for work; lies; fear and the "life is killing me" attitude...

Galeano said much that was of extraordinary interest. With his pleasant crosscurrent voice, he noted that “It is said that Núñez de Balboa was the first person to see both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans at the same time.” And then he asked, “so the indigenous peoples were all blind?”

He underscored the naivety of so many citizens who passively accept the guidelines of the present economic system and act uopn its aberrant estimates and evaluations. "Before, price depended on value. Now, frequently, price determines value", he remarked.

How can we speak of “human capital"? "The nobodies, those who own nothing, those who never were and never will be, those who are not human beings but merely hands that work for others..." We should cease to use the expression “human capital”. All people are equal in dignity and every part of them is worthy, especially their heads and their hearts.

We will no longer remain silent, since to become the voice of the voiceless we must first listen. "If you don’t want to be mute, you should begin by not being deaf". All together, then, eyes wide open and ears pricked up. Especially journalists, whose vital profession precisely requires them to reflect events accurately.

He also mentioned the walls of shame existing in the world. The Berlin Wall fell, but what can we say of the one separating the U.S. and Mexico? or Israel and the West Bank? and the Moroccan wall in the Sahara?..." We still have to pull down many walls that are a collective shame clearly violating United Nations resolutions.

And lies... like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (thousands have died paying the price of that sinister deceit)... and news about the personal lives of show people that hide for a long time things that we should know...

But above all, fear. "Fear of losing our jobs or of not finding one... Men’s fear of fearless women, fear of the masses, fear of solitude, fear of living, fear of dying..."

Fear that is mentioned so prominently in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "The exercise of those rights will free humanity from fear"... From the dawn of time we have feared the powerful on earth and beliefs from above, which threaten us with hellfire rather than offering us comfort, protection and love. Mercy. Friendship...

How long will we continue to accept a world order based on lies and fear?

They will take away our capacity to speak, they will immobilize us... but they can’t take away our ideas or the truth. He finished his presentation with an excellent anecdote: "A man was traveling from one town to another with two mules. He rode on one of the mules and on the other he had tied his harp. He was assaulted and wounded. When he recovered consciousness he exclaimed: "They’ve taken my mules and my harp. They’ve stolen everything... but my music!