The first World Without Wars and Without Violence march will embark around the planet in 2009. Its goals are as utopian as they are necessary. The challenge is as imposing and as resonant as it sounds. And it relies on detailed planning for its success, a march that hopes to pressure and move public opinion around the world.
The first step was taken in the Argentinian city of Mendoza, November of 2008. Members of the Humanist Movement launched the March in Punta de Vacas, in the heart of the Andes. Representatives from a number of nations were present, among them world without wars march organizer, Spains Rafael de la Rubia.
De la Rubia is an enthusiastic activist in charge of no more no less than creating a network to launch a movement to involve at least 90 different countries. And he has been doing well. Every day a number of notables from all walks of life join the list and boost its potential to mobilize the masses.
Among those who joined the march are Portugals José Saramago and Uruguays Eduardo Galeano; Desmond Tutu from South Africa; former head of Unesco Federico Mayor Zaragoza; the Israeli musician Zubin Mehta; Catalan singer Joan Manuel Serrat; the argentinian dancer Maximiliano Guerra; Chiles Ángel Parra; the World Association of Community Radios and the Chilean presidential candidate Tomás Hirsch.
They attribute crucial importance to understanding the risk posed by the global economic crisis, all crises of this nature end in war. De la Rubia points out that had the world invested a quarter of the sums spent trying to salvaging the financial market in policies targeting social equality there would be no violence generated by poverty.
When will the march start?
The march has already begun... From the moment we announced that it would take place. We had a European launch in Milan and one in Buenos Aires for Latin America. Of course I say it has begun because we are in the middle of the mobilization efforts. Our next launch will be in Nairobi, Kenya, for the African continent. The official launch of the world march will be October 2nd, 2009.
What do you expect to find as you go?
When we say we need to raise awareness we do so because we understand that peace is still narrowly understood as merely the absence of war. But there are other forms of violence, there is economic violence, there is hunger, there is gender based violence, domestic violence, violence in families, religious discrimination, racism, and so forth.
Because more people die from these forms of violence than in wars, we cannot say that populations are at peace...
Precisely, these populations are vulnerable to all these forms of violence. It is nevertheless, a challenge to have States admit to it, from lesser forms of violence to the current nuclear arms race.
You mean to say there is a real possibility that we see a return of classic wars, but this time to the level of nuclear warfare?
It is a very real possibility.
Is this not an exaggeration?
Look, it is not something that alarms society, and much less is it a topic that enters the agenda of governments, but in the middle of the semantic terrorism that is used in diplomacy there is the term nuclear coup. Of course if you are not paying close attention it may sound meaningless. But we must remind ourselves that the great European wars were sparked by economic disputes. We are living dangerous times.
And what does the March propose as solutions for these problems?
I believe that people are giving us daily recipes of how not to respond violently to the problems we face. Of course this is not true across the board. What I mean to say is that there are countless actions being developed as alternatives (to violence).
But if we do not know what they are?
That is only because they are not divulged with the same intensity as those that are terrible and violent! We only divulge violence, also there is this culture of efficiency, of immediate results and a culture based on power. Despite all the talk about democracy and participation, reality is quite something else. The fact is that we are reaching a very dangerous extreme.
How do you think that this coup will take place?
The emerging nations will certainly be the first to be affected, they are not those causing problems now, with the excuse that they do not have a nuclear arsenal. I mean African, Latin American nations Today problems have attained global scale and we cannot say that what happens elsewhere will not affect us.
What is the goal of the march?
The goal is to stress defusing violence. This is the main goal: go generate a global awareness of the problem. We need to unite a methodology based on non-violence with peace.
And how will that be done?
Peace action is wide ranging. It was not by accident that we began our march at the Gandhi Square in New Zealand, and that we will end it in Mendoza, in Punta de Vacas.
How will the march unfold?
Mobilizations will take place in all the continents and they will include smaller local marches and acts, statements and artistic and social manifestations.
So you will be going around the world?
We will, many times and in different ways. We have already covered 160 thousand kilometers, just to give you a sense of the size of it all, in July our schedule had not reached a list of 40 countries, now we have 90. In every single one of them we found support from local initiatives.
Is this march a type of political expression that is unique to Humanism?
There are a number of very different organizations across the world. From the grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, to the Chilean chapter of Amnesty International, actors, musicians, intellectuals, renowned people such as José Saramago, Maximiliano Guerra, Alejandro Jodorosvky, Ariel Dorfman,. We have people from all over the world, and already 250 organizations with us.
What is the first concrete measure you would ask of the world?
We would want an end to military bases. Also, if we had a quarter of the military spending or of the help given to financial institutions we would be able to diminish world hunger.
Translated by Lis Horta Moriconi/ ComunidadSegura.org (Brasil)