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International Day of Peace Celebrated in Argentina


Buenos Aires, Argentina - UPF's commitment to peace was reaffirmed once more during the artistic, cultural and interreligious meeting organized by UPF-Argentina in relation to the UN International Day of Peace under the motto: “The Right of Peoples to Peace.” It was held on Sept. 22 at Club Español of Buenos Aires, where the prizes of the sixth annual International Poetry Contest “Bridges and Roads for Peace” were given, which had 343 participants from 25 countries. (For details of the winners, click here.)

The celebration, sponsored by the Information Center of United Nations for Argentina and Uruguay and the Ministry of Culture of Buenos Aires, sought to reaffirm the value the significance of culture and spiritual values in peacebuilding at a critical time when the world is surrounded by conflicts and crisis, which can be thought as a transition point towards new paradigms 100 and 75 years after the outbreaks of the First and Second World Wars, respectively, and almost 70 years after the establishment of the UN, which appeared with the noble purpose of avoiding a new world war.


The Chorus of the Higher Institute of Religious Culture, directed by Andrés Aciar, provided the prelude of the event. At the same time, the UN Secretary-General’s message for this date, read by Horacio Daboul, director of El Faro del Sur, was presented to the audience in the Autonomies Room of the beautiful and historical Hispanic center, which was declared a cultural site in Buenos Aires in 2004. After the reading, there was a minute of silence in memory of all the victims of violence. Then, participants listened to the reflections and prayers by the representatives of different faith communities. They each poured water on an olive tree, a symbol of good will and universal peace in different traditions, as a sign of commitment to peacebuilding. The representatives included Norma Terzo (Hinduism – Ramakrishna Order in Argentina), and the Islamic and Jewish representatives Sheikh Abdel Nabi Al Hafnawy (Al-Ahmad Mosque) and Dr. Julio Schlosser (DAIA), who embraced each other as brothers.

Other prayers were offered by Father Maghakia Amiryan (Orthodox Christianity - Armenian Apostolic Church), Pastor David Calvo (Evangelical Christianity – Evangelical Lutheran Church), and Fray Jorge Bender (Catholicism – Francis of Assisi’s Abby), who finished with “Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace,” the beautiful prayer by Francis of Assisi. Other representatives of different religions joined in, bringing the total to 12. This section was closed by Carlos Varga, Director of the Unification Movement in Argentina, which is also part of the UPF. He emphasized that “there is no peace without reconciliation or forgiveness,” and also the importance of “joining again” with the “Supreme Being” and making “a happier world” with the powerful energy of “true love.”

The emotional and much-anticipated reading of poems by their authors: “Por puentes y caminos,” by Irma Droz, and “Los jóvenes ya alzan sus brazos…” by Cecilia María Labanca (who shared the first prize), was the culmination of the awards on the sixth annual International Poetry Contest organized by UPF-Argentina, in relation to the International Day of Peace 2014. The poem “Los jóvenes ya alzan sus brazos…” included a surprise, since it was inspired by the 2000 graduates of the Gaiman’s Camwy School (Chubut Province), who had demonstrated an admirable gesture of solidarity that year: they donated the money collected for their graduation trip to help pay for a child’s surgery (read the news). This emotional story was revived by this poem, which was framed as a gift to the institution. All the members of that valuable group were given a diploma of recognition. The gifts were presented to Sebastián Fernández, from the Culture Section of Casa de Chubut in Buenos Aires, so he could send them to those teenagers, who are now adults of more than 30 years.

The contest was declared to be of educational interest by the Secretary of University Policies of the Education Ministry of the Nation (Resolution 3287 SPU). Many writers participated from countries such as Algeria, Bolivia, France, El Salvador, the United States, Honduras, England, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Dominican Republic, and Sweden. The nations with the most participants, after Argentina (225 from 20 provinces), were Spain (27 participants), Mexico (19), Uruguay (13), Colombia (11), Chile (8), Venezuela (7), Brazil (6), Cuba (6), Peru (5) and Ecuador (2).

The diplomas and gifts for the authors of the winning and selected poems were given by the jury, composed of: Mrs. Bertha Bilbao Richter, literary critic, member of the ILCH (Hispanic Cultural and Literary Institute) and the Argentinean Society of Writers (SADE); Mrs. Liria Guedes, writer and Honorable Belt of the SADE, member of the American Poetry Association, and the ILCH; writer and plastic artist Mabel Fontau, Honorable Belt of the SADE, member of the ILCH and “Men of Letters”; the poet Donato Perrone, from the Argentinean Poetry Athenaeum “Alfonsina Storni”, coordinator of the Lyrical Corner of Tortoni Cafe, and representative of the Group of Poets Livres of Santa Catarina (Brazil); and Mr. Miguel Werner, secretary general of UPF-Argentina. Mere words could not express the appreciation for their commitment to this annual event, after gathering four times to finish deciding the winning and selected poems.

Appreciation was also expressed to the godmothers: writer and poet Juana Alcira Arancibia, founder and chairman of the ILCH and director-editor of the prestigious international literary magazine “Alba de América”; the Brazilian poet Marina Fagundes Coello, bilingual writer (Portuguese-Spanish), member of the ILCH, and member of different and prominent literary groups in America, and who travelled from this neighboring country so as not to miss the party; and the writer and poet Nélida Pessagno, vice-president of the SADE and Councilor of the Foundation “El Libro” (The Book), who was appointed an Ambassador for Peace, an UPF initiative to encourage leaders from different fields as peacemakers. They considered the work of the entity and expressed their appreciation with emotion.

Peace in minds and hearts

In another emotional moment, Marcelo Gustavo Sánchez, director of “La gaceta del veterano de Guerra de Malvinas” (The gazette of the Malvinas war veteran), gave the UPF a container with archipelago peat and rocks from the Darwin cemetery, the place where the bodies of the Malvinas heroes rest, this being a sad episode of recent Argentinean history. Marcelo participated, as a way of reaffirming his commitment for peace, along with Timoteo Herrera, another Malvinas war veteran, who also donated a replica of the image of the Virgin of Luján.

The artistic interlude was in charge of tenor Ángel Emilio Cerricchio, who sang one of the many versions of "Hallelujah" (Hallelujah, Il Divo): “So that love will be the norm / And not government corruption / But the good and the best of a pure soul / Because God will protect us from a tragic ending/ Because one day we will be able to learn our lesson / From that which could end in such fury, Hallelujah / Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.” Then, as another sign of collective commitment, he sang along with the Higher Institute of Religious Culture chorus, directed by Andrés Aciar, the “Hymn for Reconciliation,” written by Concepción Rodríguez de Garaventa, winner of the first poetry contest organized by UPF Argentina in 2009, which at that time was related to the International Year of Reconciliation (UN Resolution: A/RES/61/17). The musical setting had been composed by Teresa Guedes, with the voice of Peruvian tenor Miguel Murguía Ruíz, musical arrangement and orchestration by Víctor Marchand, and general production by Dr. Luis Guedes.

The intonation of “Each with their log, / Feeding the fire / Of solidarity. / Each, / keeping it alive /the fire of LIFE, / the fire of LOVE, / the fire of PEACE” was the corollary of a meeting that sought to strengthen commitment, revitalize faith and spirituality, and uphold cultural and universal values as essential elements to build peace. According to the important paragraph of the UNESCO’s preamble (1945) which heads the contest bases: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”

The participants fraternized during the snacks and could take with them the collection of winning and selected poems of the contest, which also included the jury’s decision for giving the shared first prize, and a Peace Statement by the UPF (see below). The winners received 10 copies of these publications, books donated by the jury, and the UPF founder’s autobiography: “As a Peace-loving Global Citizen.”

The event was sponsored by the Center of Information of the United Nations for Argentina and Uruguay (CINU) and the Ministry of Culture of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (RESOL-2014-7302-MCGC); it was supported by the IFLAC Latin America – International Forum for a Literature and Culture of Peace / Peace Council of Argentina / Mercantile Marine University / the Higher Institute of Religious Studies / Association “Friends of National Parks” / “Pacis Nuntii” Movement / Joining Nations / Apostolic and Prophetic Christian Ministry for a Better World / Association of Educators from Latin America and the Caribbean branch in Buenos Aires / A. F. R. I. C. A. – Federal Association of Refugees and Residents from the African Collectivity in Argentina / Argentinean Poetry Space “Alfonsina Storni” / SADE – Atlantic Section – Mar del Plata / Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Tourism, and Services from Parque de los Patricios / Committee of Gender Equality – Advisory Council of the non-profit association of the Argentinean Chancery / World Federation for Ladies Grand Masters / Human Neurocapital / Argentinean School of Yoga and Ayurveda / Argentinean Austrian Culture Association in Buenos Aires / “Read me a book” – Argentinean virtual magazine of children's literature / Newspaper “El Faro del Sur” / La gaceta del veterano de guerra de Malvinas / School of Puppets of Montecarlo – Misiones / Paranin Association – Member of the CONIN Family / Federation of Association of Italian-Argentinean Ladies (FADIA) / Association “Sister City” of San Clemente – International Program of Sister Schools – Worldwide Network for Peace.

This activity supported the seventh annual Round of Peace 2014: “Peace in our hearts… Peace in the world.”

Olive tree “for life and peace”

With another gesture supporting the International Day of Peace, also on September 22nd at noon, the UPF Argentina participated in an olive tree planting “for life and peace” in the park of Nueva Pompeya, in front of the Parish Nuestra Señora del Rosario of Nueva Pompeya. The participants were the priest of the temple and the Sanctuary “San Antonio de Padua” from Parque Patricios, representatives of the CGP 4, the Association of Cultural and Social Arab League, Rotary Club from Parque de los Patricios, Rotary Club from Nueva Pompeya, and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Tourism, and Services from Parque de los Patricios.

International Day of Peace 2014


First: Conflict and violence are rooted in the absence of dialogue in human relationships, and they originate from the removal of our highest ideals and hopes. Aggression is a symptom of social, moral and spiritual failure. If we really want to end violence and weapons of mass destruction, we should commit ourselves for a moral and spiritual awakening.

Second: Lasting peace cannot be ensured by simply avoiding the use of weapons and nuclear arsenals. It is grounded in the solidarity of the community and the recognition that we are all brothers and sisters who share the same planetary home, the same origin and spiritual heritage, an inalienable dignity. The understanding that we are a great family under the same, one God raises the collective will to end violent conflicts.

Third: Family, being the cornerstone of society, is the primary school of ethics, the institution where children should learn about respect, values and living for others. By strengthening marriage and such families, we can establish a culture of coexistence and fraternity. The countless resources which are now used for weapons instead of solving conflicts by peaceful means can be reassigned to human development, starting with that “basic cell” for the progress of societies and peoples.

Fourth: Law alone cannot change the culture of violence. It has to be upheld by significant educational programs related to character development, conflict resolution and the promotion of a “culture of encounter,” dialogue, cooperation and service to others, transcending ethnicities, nationalities and religions. Men and women who have been educated by these values will fulfill their duties and responsibilities to others and will respect and live for the sake of their community and nation. Goodness and harmony with other peoples and cultures will result in coexistence with our natural environment.

UPF Argentina embraces and celebrates the International Day of Peace, established in 1981 by the UN Resolution 36/67, which calls us to dedicate every September 21 “to reinforce the ideals of peace in all nations and peoples of the world.”

Buenos Aires, September 21st, 2014.-

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