PAZ in contexts of violence

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, location of the MCC Retreat January 2012

Adriana Koehn is the Connecting Peoples Program Coordinator in MCC Guatemala.  This article was posted on January 24 on their program website

A quick search on the Internet and one can find more than enough reports on the current reality of violence that most of Central America and Mexico are experiencing. Indeed the situation at times seems quite grim, leaving one to wonder just what things like the newly elected ex-military President will bring to Guatemala.

While many of the region’s cities can be found on various “most dangerous” lists, it was more than fitting that the topic of working at peace in this violent context was the focus of the regional retreat for MCC workers in Mexico and Central America earlier this month.

The similarities between the various countries and the struggles that they all seem to share is alarming, causing one to feel that this little part of the world is going down, and going down fast. (Read more here about these difficult issues that connect the North with the South).

We of course don’t want to live in fear nor scare others with these headlines, but it is always important to be aware and question the root causes of these issues. It is important to remind ourselves that these types of things don’t happen alone and that like it or not, we are all far more connected than we think. Take the issue of U.S. gun control and firearm smuggling as an example, something that is explained so well on the MCC Latin America Advocacy blog (Mexican Day of the Dead: Cause of Death?).

So often with these overwhelming and seemingly unsolvable issues, one feels like there is nothing that can be done. And although the discussions that we had at the regional retreat were tough and a bit depressing at times, I still left with a sense of solidarity and reassurance knowing that we’re not in this alone. It was hopeful to be reminded of the important work communities and partners are doing to take steps towards sustainable change in the region.

Climbing the Agua Volcano, Guatemala, to stop violence against women January 21, 2012

It was also timely that this past weekend a Guatemalan campaign called “Break the Cycle” organized an activity in which 10,000 people formed a human chain up the “Agua” volcano outside of Antigua, speaking out against domestic violence and the general “culture of violence” that permeates the country; videoshere and here. As a side note, President Otto Perez was also at the event, either looking for good publicity or hopefully truly supporting this call for peace, and I was there when he arrived (like him or not, it was exciting to be 5 feet away from the President).

Another encouraging aspect of all of this is that there are small things that you out there can also do to speak out against violence and work at supporting this same sustainable change; for example, learn about and get involved in the Stop Gun Smuggling campaign here and here. Or consider supporting MCC partners like these in Honduras: Proyecto Aldea Global and Proyecto MAMA

It’s the tradition at the end of the MCC retreat for each team to present a talent of sorts during the famous “Noche de Talentos.” Among many other creative and entertaining acts this year, the Honduras team shared the following song from the Honduran artist Polache; a fitting reminder of the need to work towards change, both on a large scale and within each of us.

Polache, Honduran musician

“Mira Honduras”

May your eyes not be covered
Careful with the corruption and incomprehension
The indifference and delinquency
More and more no one can be found in this nation
Pay attention to this heart song
We have more good here
More those we love, we believe in this land
It is a blessing

Look at Honduras with different eyes
This is your land
I discovered that by looking at it with different eyes you will deserve it
Look at Honduras with different eyes
You have to love it
I discovered that by looking at it with different eyes you will deserve it

May your eyes not be covered
Deforestation and contamination
The poverty, injustice, and vulgarity
More and more no one can be found in this nation
Pay attention to this heart song
The richness, grandness, nobleness is more, and more the beauty
That there is in this land is a blessing

This entry was posted in By country, Guatemala, Urban Peacebuilding. Bookmark the permalink.

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