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December 2017
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International Day of Peace Observed in Peru

Ayacucho, Peru—UPF-Peru hosted the Peace Road and held events to celebrate the International Day of Peace over two days in September in Ayacucho, a mountain city 2,800 meters above sea level located in south-central Peru.

The staff of the UPF chapter and a group of Ambassadors for Peace travelled together from Lima to Ayacucho for the events, which took place on September 20 and 21.

In 1980, the insurgent organization known as the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) used Ayacucho as its base for its terrorist campaign against the Peruvian government. The region of Ayacucho is rural and one of the poorest in the country. For the past four years UPF has been working in the city, appointing a regional president and more than 40 Ambassadors for Peace, including the mayor, Mr. Aedo Mendoza, and Catholic Archbishop Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón.

On September 19, the staff of UPF-Peru met with Ambassadors for Peace and the mayor, and gave a presentation on UPF’s Principles of Peace and explained the schedule of events for the next two days.

Early on the morning of September 20, UPF-Peru’s staff gathered in Ayacucho’s town for a formal meeting with the mayor. UPF-Peru president, Dr. Trevor Jones, gave him a Peace Road 2017 t-shirt and the mayor in turn presented Dr. Jones with a white flag, which he and Dr. Jones took together to the second floor balcony, where they raised it over the main square of the city. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a breakfast of local food, which had been prepared by an international chef and his staff, and then visited a display of artwork about peace that had been prepared by local secondary school students.

In the afternoon, UPF-Peru held a forum for peace in the Municipal Theatre, which more than 200 guests attended. Among the invited speakers were the former president of the Congress of Peru, Dr. Antero Flores Araoz; another former Peruvian congressman; the mayor; and other representatives. Fifteen new Ambassadors for Peace were appointed during the program, including a group of victims of Peru’s internal conflict (1980-2000) who are still hoping to discover what happened to their relatives who suddenly disappeared more than 20 years ago (los desaparecidos, those who disappeared during the conflict).  

The evening concluded with a march around the main square, which was lined with students holding lanterns for peace.

On September 21, the International Day of Peace, UPF-Peru organized a peace march. Peruvian congressman Dr. Yonhy Lescano and his wife came from Lima to participate in the event. Around 2,000 people, including local leaders and representatives of local groups, walked through the streets of Ayacucho, waving white flags and balloons and carrying banners representing their organizations. Upon arriving at the main square in the city, the flags of Peru and UPF were raised and then everyone stood for Peru’s national anthem. Afterwards, congressman Lescano and several others gathered on a stage in the square and gave speeches, and trophies and banners were presented to various institutions in recognition of their work for peace.

On the following day, September 22, most of the local newspapers reported on the event,  especially because congressman Lescano promised during his speech to put a motion before Peru’s Congress to name Ayacucho as the “city of peace.” He also spoke well about his long relationship with UPF and the work we are doing.

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