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April 2019
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Peace Education

Consultations in Montevideo on Promoting Values in Government

Montevideo, Uruguay - Uruguay is a small, peaceful and beautiful country – and for anyone spiritually connected to the UPF work, going to Uruguay has an aspect of coming home. A great deal of Rev. and Mrs. Moon’s heart, mind, and hands have been invested here. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that when Dr. Hyun Jin Moon came here on April 21, 2008, to meet and greet, that he would be received by leaders of government, business, academia, and the clergy, 70 or 90 at a time, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Some of the Ambassadors for Peace have been working with us for 25 years to help give birth to North-South unity. Hyun Jin Moon met for about an hour with Uruguay’s personable and distinguished president, H.E. Tabaré Vásquez, They were immediately able to find a common language in discussing the responsibility of each of us to reach out in good faith to the “other” across our cultural and national divides.

One thing that helps in the discussion of serving people is the fact that President Vásquez is also a physician, a healer. His practice is in the treatment of cancer, and he is maybe the only sitting president who takes off for one day a week to treat ordinary patients in his office at the hospital.

Hyun Jin Moon brought up the topic of closer cooperation between Uruguay and Paraguay, even suggesting that interests of both countries would be served if they approached MERCOSUR (the common market among Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) with one unified voice. While acknowledging the obvious advantages of Uruguay and Paraguay doubling their strength in this way, he sees many challenges in how such a thing could be rendered practically.

A meeting with former Uruguayan President Julio Sanguinetti found a common ground on the topic of values in government. Hyun Jin Moon said, “For me the American dream was never a political dream. Democracy does not lead to greatness. Capitalism also does not lead to greatness. Human beings are flawed, and I believe great nations need to be built on a recognition of God. Nazi Germany was democratic and capitalist, but it created its own rules and definitions of values. The value system that leads to true human rights can come only with the inclusion of God. Absolute and immutable principles are our guiding light.”

A meeting Hyun Jin Moon found particularly enjoyable on a personal level was with Paraguayan soccer legend José Chilavert. “Chila,” as his fans call him, was voted “World’s Best Goalkeeper” in 1995, 1997, and 1998 by IFFHS, the international football ranking organization that works alongside FIFA. He played for Paraguay but is equally known in Uruguay. He is now in his early 40s and has been retired from the sport for four years.

We first came to his attention when Hyun Jin Moon was in Paraguay for an International Leadership Conference in February. Chilavert was invited to an event at the hotel by one of the Ambassadors for Peace. He wasn’t able to make that meeting, but he heard someone talking about Hyun Jin Moon’s speech in the Congress Building. Something resonated with him and so he called us. “I would like to meet him sometime,” he said, “and shake his hand.”

He got his chance to do that in Uruguay during this recent visit.

His fans, who seem to be everyone in both countries, still recognize him and called out the name they know him by, “Chila! Chila!” as he and Hyun Jin Moon walked to the coffee shop down the block. A man walked up to the table and quietly interrupted the conversation, offering his hand to Chila. “Thank you,” was all he said. Chila paused briefly to shake hands with the gentleman and look up at his face. “Thank you,” he responded.

He is approachable and much loved – the chairman of every street he walks down. His gentle demeanor off the field is a sharp contrast to the relentless, brawling style and fierce gameface he presented to opponents during his playing days.

We left the coffee shop and went to the park across the street from the hotel. While crossing the street the driver of a delivery truck stopped at the light called out his name and waved him over to sign an autograph. Lacking a proper piece of paper, the driver asked him to sign the front of the delivery order on his clipboard. With carbons, the driver now has three of Chila’s signature.

The park across from the hotel is dominated by a statue of José Gervasio Artigas, Uruguay's greatest national hero. Artigas led Uruguay’s fight for independence from Spain, then Argentina, and then Spain again in 1816 after Spain restored its presence. After those successful battles, he had to face Brazil, which annexed part of the country and forced Artigas into exile in Paraguay.

Artigas sits astride a majestic horse atop an enormous pedestal, the whole thing rising 30-something feet into the air. The horse’s right leg is off the ground, denoting a hero who was wounded in battle but did not die from his wounds.

Beneath the statue down marble stairs, his ashes lie in state, flanked by two ceremonial honor guards.

Hyun Jin Moon and those with him went down to the room where the hero’s victories are chronicled in block letters on the walls. He stood before the large wooden urn holding the ashes of General Artigas and prayed silently for quite a while, perhaps thinking of how to build cooperation even among those in the spiritual realm with those in the physical realm.

Uruguay has a lot to recommend itself, not the least of which is the climate. April is autumn south of the equator, and the skies are clear and blue. In each of these countries we tried to build in some time to get out and see some nature, even if only for a few hours. On our last day in Montevideo, Hyun Jin Moon decided to take his core team for a brisk 10-kilometer walk along the shoreline. It was a wonderful experience, although that distance can be arduous if you take it at a fast clip. Of course everything tends to be slower in Uruguay. But not a walk with Hyun Jin Moon.

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