In Memoriam Mario Soares, lighthouse-man

Monday, January 30, 2017

"The future of humanity is threatened,
such as democracy itself,
  above all because of the absolute control of the markets over the States,
because money became the supreme value,
without ethical principles and without any respect for the dignity of people. "

Thus expresses at the end of his work "Un Poeme político asume-se"
in Vau / Campogrande, in September 2011.

“We must recognize -I am writing another of the paragraphs of this book- that the crisis of the world is in the farthest depths. We are in a moment of radical change of civilization. Poverty and the great inequalities -between people and States- are growing and less bearable on all continents.

The generations that were raised in the last decades of the twentieth century -and who dreamed of living in peace, in a better future for all and in more equal and
supportive societies- will hardly bear thinking about the current horizon without falling into deep skepticism, despair and rebellion.... ".

President Mario Soares is one of the great contemporary celebrities whose trajectory is permanently at the forefront of the struggle for equal human dignity. Conciliator, tireless in the search for peaceful solutions to conflicts. I have met him on many occasions and, especially in recent years, I have had frequent occasions to enjoy his teaching. At the age of ninety, he remained one of the few leading-examples of the present. He kept thinking of unusual solutions, in anticipations that are only possible when the world as a whole  is looked at from a high watchtower. In the midst of so much conceptual confusion, with such somber perspectives, President Mario Soares was able to bring new points of view, typical of an original way of looking at reality in order to change it.

Not only I enjoyed them very much but  learned a lot from the long conversations we had in 2005 and 2006 and which contributed to the book "An Iberian Dialogue", in which, from the peninsula, the present world situation is analyzed already in the digital era and the anthropocene, Mario Soares giving his visions and expectations according to the experience of his long journey.

His values and ethical principles applied to politics are the unifying thread of an exceptional life. In a moment of great precariousness of people who live up to the immense challenges we face, the leading figure of President Mario Soares is still increasing.

The moral fall of the West, with the United Nations substituted by plutocratic groups, can only be countered by following guidelines such as those that President Soares depicted and provided. "There is never a good wind for those who do not know where they are going," says a sailor saying. Mario Soares, lighthouse-man to foresee and to prevent.

It is obvious that at global level, only the democratic multilateralism based on the same principles of the United Nations Charter, updated and provided with personal, technical and financial resources, is one of the most urgent solutions that President Soares was committed to proposing and facilitating its implementation. "Only the United Nations can contribute to the design and construction of a new international order able of ensuring peace and welfare for all people, regardless of race, gender and social position. We are one world, getting increasingly interdependent”, wrote in his autobiographical political and ideological essay.

I am sure that Mr. Antonio Guterres, newly appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations, will be very aware of the guidelines of his great colleague, friend and President.

Interdependence, solidarity, eliminating walls, establishing bonds... "Building more solidarity-based societies from an economic and social point of view and eradicating the poverty that upsets two-thirds of humanity is our great task.  And consider on how after half a century we can renew the great United Nations’ pact so that international governance can become more effective and democratic, because the great problems of our time -poverty, aggression against the ecological balance of the planet, organized crime, education, scientific and cultural development - are of an international nature and go through the boundaries of national States... It is essential to progress towards a democratic global governance ... It is not enough to denounce.  It is necessary to propose solutions.”

He was born in 1924. He began at the age of seventeen his studies in 1942 at the Faculty of Arts in Lisbon. Later, during the "voyage" (exile), he studied Law.

In his long journey, Mario Soares, always reflective, always was meditating updated and
timely solutions, always republican, antifascist, communist militant at one time, Europeanist, anti-colonialist... and then the exile, later leading the socialist party..., with freedom as endowment and permanent commitment. From Portugal to the world, proclaiming that the solution is authentic democracy, of which he is today, citizen of the world, with a vision that includes the different dimensions of human life, an icon of special importance.

The "revolution of the carnations", putting flowers in the guns' bores, is a symbol and stimulus of the peaceful, firm revolution, but uses words and conciliation efforts instead of weapons. This revolution is the climax of a trajectory of deep human importance. It took place on 25 of April of 1974.

The Portuguese "revolutionary transition" achieved a rapid international recognition: Paris, London, Bonn,... The transition from a decades-long dictatorship to a democracy that was taking place in a way that only a few weeks ago was unpredictable. But the seeds that were planted in time had germinated. Over the years, Mario Soares established contact with many countries and politicians in the world as Minister of Foreign Affairs. As a good Portuguese knows that the earth is round and the human beings who inhabit it have a common destiny. Then, he becomes Prime Minister. Then, President of the Republic....

"I always thought it is necessary, that it is a duty, to fight for the values ​​on which a more just, better and more caring world can be based." Difficult and turbulent road, with ups and downs, forests and deserts, victories and defeats... at the service of the Portuguese people and, from this cross-road country, the world as a whole.

The deep crisis that we suffer is not only economic. It is, above all, democratic and ethical. We will not overcome it postponing with all sorts of intrigues the coming of the power of "We, the peoples”...

I vividly remember the World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre in 2003, which became the counterpoint to the Davos Economic Forum. Shortly before the mass event, where he had to address a real human tide, we were talking to the newly appointed President Lula, President Mario Soares, Danielle Mitterrand and I. I will never forget the importance of the recommendations and points of view that were expressed in that unusual occasion. I also now recall another occasion, also in Porto Alegre, with Ignacio Ramonet, José Saramago, Roberto Savio, Eduardo Galeano, Susan George, Rigoberta Menchú, Bonaventura de Sousa Santos, and Mario Soares, the "paused revolution", everyone in his eyes, admired catalyst.

"The culture of peace," he said at the Autonomous University of Madrid in January 2004- is to root the universality of human rights and democracy in the spirit of women and men of our planet, the value of dialogue between cultures and religions, based on respect for the other, on tolerance, on multiculturalism”. "

When he turned 90 on December 7, 2014, he said "there are only two leaders: Pope Francisco and Barack Obama”.

Today I add to these two preferences, also mine, the leading figure of Mario Soares. From my aversion to war, I admired at first who was able to guide a revolution peacefully and is today one of the examples that humanity has to inspire the coming transitions and historical inflections. Mario Soares, a lighthouse-man.


Friday, January 20, 2017

In the face of serious global threats, we, the citizens of the world must come together at once!

For the first time in history humanity is facing potentially irreversible processes that could lead to points of non-return if corrective actions are not taken on time.

It is essential to promote on a global scale awareness of the unacceptable irresponsibility we could be accused of if we don’t react vigorously to redress current trends.

In September 2015, in the “Joint Declaration on Social and Ecological Emergency” ( endorsed in the first place by Mikhail Gorbachev, Mario Soares, Garry Jacobs, Colin Archer, Roberto Savio and François de Bernard, we had already suggested that, within a context of non-solidarity that was becoming increasingly egoistical, xenophobic, racist and fanatical, actions should be taken immediately to address environmental issues, social inequalities and extreme poverty, and to eliminate nuclear weapons. We had also stressed that we could no longer postpone the reinstatement –initially through the establishment of an extraordinary permanent meeting– of the United Nations as a democratic multilateral system, a system that was set aside by neoliberalism and replaced by plutocratic groups (G6, G7, G8, G20).

As was the case with other recent manifestos and global calls (Statement of Nobel Peace Laureates, Barcelona, December 2015; Campaign on “Disarmament for Development”, at the initiative of the International Peace Bureau, Berlin, September-October 2016...), any information  eventual response was silenced by the huge media power, always keen to favour a submissive and misinformed attitude from audiences.

The Paris Agreement on climate change (COP), signed during the meeting held by the United Nations on this topic, as well as the proposal of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 2015-2030 period were seen as positive steps in the right direction.

But soon the expectations became less optimistic not only because resources were still too scarce to allow implementation of SGDs and the COP, but also because the OXFAM-INTERMON report had confirmed that wealth was progressively concentrated in a few hands: thousands of people were helplessly starving to death daily while 4.000 million dollars are invested in arms and military expenditure while development assistance had experienced a radical reduction, forcing many human beings to flee from their wretched homelands... to find upon their arrival -if they were fortunate enough to reach their destination- closed doors and hands -and minds!-  at the end of their dreams...

The situation of social and ecological emergency was already a cause of concern and everybody expected that diagnoses would soon give rise to immediate treatments that would be specially tailored for new generations, since this is the inalienable duty of the present ones.

And suddenly Mr. Donald Trump, United States President-elect, appeared on stage. The Republican party has always favoured US hegemony and has strongly opposed a democratic multilateralism (remember how it opposed to the League of Nations in 1919; to the United Nations System, especially in the eighties, when it entrusted worldwide governance to autarchic groups; it refused to endorse the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989; it placed the World Trade Organisation outside the scope of the United Nations; it ignored the Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council when Iraq was invaded in 2003...).

Statements made by President-elect Donald Trump concerning nuclear weapons, his rejection of United Nations and his intention to breach the Agreements on Climate Change represent a global threat that cannot be tolerated.

We cannot accept in any way the immediate risk for humanity as a whole and, in particular, for young and future generations posed by the behaviour of the leader of the most powerful country in the Earth, who has repeatedly ignored the warnings of the scientific community –he has in fact nominated as Secretary of State a former Chief Executive of the Exxon Mobil Company, who during more than fifteen years (1980-1996) generously funded pseudo-experts whose task was to deny the adverse effect of CO2 and other “greenhouse” gasses emissions on the Earth’s habitability!

Until very recently, “We the Peoples...” -as lucidly referred at the  beginning of the Charter of the United Nations- were unable to express themselves. Today, with the new digital technology, they can express ourselves freely. And we know what happens worldwide. Now, we must raise our voices. Otherwise, we would become accomplices. Accomplices of a crime of silence.

Today, we, citizens of the world must raise a huge clamour in the cyberspace, and make it clear to President Trump that, if he persists to fulfil his dark purposes, there will be millions of human beings, driven by their profound concern to ensure the common destiny and, in particular, the future of young people, who will no longer buy products from or supply products to a country whose leader represents a hazard with irreversible consequences for humanity as a whole.

All human beings equal in dignity, “We, the peoples...” will lead the way towards a future free of nuclear weapons, a future where everyone will enjoy the appropriate conditions to live a decent life in a controlled ecological environment. The future must still be built. It's time for action. Tomorrow might be too late.

Now that it’s within our reach, let’s start the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace, from force to word.

Citizens of the world, the time has come to unite! Starting from 20 January 2017, we ask you to convey through the new comunication media your firm resolution to go ahead if Mr. Trump doesn’t change his program.

In the face of a global threat, a global response must be given to anyone who prevents us from fulfilling our supreme duty: taking care of the new generations. To betray them would be a huge historical mistake.

If we succeed in preventing these gloomy expectations from being met, “We, the peoples...” should be able to take the next step: the reinstatement of multilateralism that will allow a smooth transition along the first stages of the new era.

It is necessary to remain alert and vigilant, with an attitude permanently proactive, wide spreading  this message, suggesting eventually improvements and, above all, requesting support to very concrete aspects of it.

Against terrorism,

Monday, January 9, 2017

an effective democratic multilateral system, a re-founding United Nations endowed with the necessary personal, technical and financial resources; a planetary solidarity that allows a decent life to all human beings (today, less than 100 people possess a wealth greater than half of humanity ; every day more than 4 billion dollars are spent on weapons and military expenditures while thousands of people die of hunger and extreme poverty , most of them boys and girls from one to five years of age); to provide support for human and sustainable development, both at a global level (United Nations Development Program) and bilaterally; to ensure the fulfillment of the human rights for all people, excluding absolute power in any case; ... and a deep and neutral analysis of the causes that, to the extent that they correspond, triggered animosity, xenophobia, prevalence and fanaticism...

The force alone, no. Its incorrect use -as in the invasion of Iraq- is precisely found at the origin of many terrorist sentiments and actions. In front of terrorism, it is a mistake to call on just to force. What caused it to a great extent cannot be the only solution.