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A. Flores-Araoz: Address to Latin America Summit 2018

 Address to Latin America Summit 2018, São Paulo, Brazil, August 2-5, 2018

Opening Banquet

Hon. Antero Flores-Araoz, President of Congress, Peru (2004-2006)

It’s a great honor for me to speak here today. I want to thank the Universal Peace Federation, International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, and Interreligious Association for Peace and Development, for the invitation to participate in this forum where we will talk about peace and development in Latin America.

I would like to begin by talking about who we are in Latin America. The Latin American countries together form one of the biggest territories in the world. Latin Americans are the result of a mix of various human groups: Latino Europeans, such as the Spanish and Portuguese, slaves brought from Africa, natives of America, and the offspring of the intermingling of these groups. This brought about the miscegenation that we are today.

Now I would like to quote Papa Francisco on a declaration that he made in 2014 for the newspaper El Pelegrino. He said, “Everyone talks about peace, everyone claims that they want it, but unfortunately, the proliferation of weapons of all kinds drives us in the opposite direction.” Nothing is more true than that.

Nowadays, Latin American governments make huge purchases of war material while at the same time there are portions of the population living in extreme poverty. Although it’s true that the regions have advanced, as can be seen in the economic indicators, it’s no less true that extreme poverty in Latin American countries still exists and is one of the main problems in each country. This leads us to the big question: Why is that? Why do Latin American countries continue to invest considerable amounts of money in weapons when there’s so many diverse and much more important problems like lack of basic services such as electricity, clean water, roads or medical care, that governments should be more concerned about? I can’t understand such infamy when there is no serious situation to justify the excessive spending on weapons by each Latin American country.

Latin American people have a particular identification with peace and unity, mainly because we speak the same language and second, because we feel like one big country. However, this sense of unity is being blocked by the existing armaments race. The OEA Democratic Letter establishes, among other things, that the purpose of the hemispheric organization is to bring about the limitation of conventional weapons. This would allow large amounts of resources to be dedicated to the economic and social development of all member states. Such a commitment is in all the statements but certainly this isn’t being accomplished.

What we have to do, in my opinion, is limit excessive spending on weapons and put this money toward much more important things such as social programs for the development of vulnerable and poor populations in each country, and also contribute to Latin American unity by setting common goals, creating more bonds among Latinos.

We are not going the right path because war destroys, war can break even brothers’ bonds; war outside a country or continent drives them away. We have to redirect our minds to bring prosperity to our nations. Only in this way will we succeed, creating a better world for our children.

In Latin America there is a kind of nationalism among Latinos, something that perhaps cannot be described with words, but nevertheless exists—the affinity between them. It is a kind of fellowship that makes us feel more at home while we are away. What we have to do as Latin Americans is to know ourselves, because we can only want the known. Through knowledge there can be understanding. We want a united Latin America that can bring peace, democracy and unity.

Thank you.



To go to the Latin America Summit 2018 Schedule page, click here.