Peace Education

Conference in Paraguay Calls for Development and Peace in the Americas

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Asunción, Paraguay - Calling people to become “transformers of their societies,” Neil Bush, brother of US President George W. Bush, joined distinguished leaders at an International Leadership Conference February 27-29, 2008, at the five-star Excelsior Hotel in Asunción, Paraguay.

He spoke of a “culture of service” and a vision of uniting individuals and organizations to promote peace and the common good, calling service “an essential component of any complete life.”

These themes were echoed by many speakers. Dr. Miguel Abdón Saguier, president of the Senate, opened the conference at a prestigious honor session held inside the general assembly hall of the National Congress. Julio María Sanguinetti, former President of Uruguay, also addressed the session, underscoring the need for greater emphasis on education, interreligious dialogue, and the family.

This conference built on a similar International Leadership Conference held in Uruguay in January, in which another former Uruguayan president, Luis Alberto Lacalle, called for closer bonds between North and South America based on universal values and democracy, in order to reduce the inequalities among the peoples of the region.

The Paraguay conference featured presentations from UPF’s peacebuilding curriculum. Topics included God’s Ideal for Peace, presented by Thomas Field, director of the news agency UPI for Latin America; Spirituality and Leadership by Jorge Guldenzoph, President of the Uruguayan National Conference on Leadership; the Cause and Origin of Conflicts, by Ricardo de Sena, Director of UPF’s Office of UN Relations; the Principles of Reconciliation, by Dr. Antonio Betancourt, director of UPF’s Office of Government Relations; and Character Education, by Lic. Jesús González, President of the International Educational Foundation.

Conference participants included government officials, legislators, diplomats, academics, spiritual leaders, and heads of civil society organizations.

Participants working with the youth of their country were especially impressed by the presentations. Architect Julia Maciel, former Minister of Planning, commented, “I have always thought that by helping and educating the youth, we can build a great country. Now I know why this is true.” Dr. Alda Cardoso, Director of the Marco Aguayo Foundation against AIDS, said, “We have the same principles and ideals, and I will double my efforts on topics such as the morality of our country’s youth.”

Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, chairman of the International Leadership Conference, envisions a moral transformation in Paraguay that could yield a model for Latin America and promote increased friendship, cooperation, and trade throughout the hemisphere. He talked about his father, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and his dream of building one family under God.

Lic. Hugo Britez, a sociologist, commented: “I was surprised to find such a broad, variable, and heterogeneous level of different segments of Paraguay’s high society. This demonstrates that Dr. Moon’s message is inclusive and potentially useful especially on topics such as tolerance and development.”

The International Leadership Conferences offer a comprehensive vision of peacebuilding involving the collaborative efforts of governments, faith-based organizations, religions, civil society, and the private sector.

“This is what Paraguay needed,” commented Engineer Oscar Ruben Salomón, Chairman of Paraguay’s House of Representatives;. “I commit myself to support the Federation’s projects from my position and as a common citizen.” Congressman Sebastián Acha from the Patria Querida Party said “I commit myself to continue supporting you in all the subjects, especially the topic of character.”

The international delegation paid a courtesy call on the President of Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte Frutos. They discussed the importance of public service and ways to encourage young people to contribute their energy and creativity as volunteers to serve their community and nation.

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