The Words of the Jones Family
Lima, Peru - During a time of violent clashes over plans to open up Peru's northern Amazon region to development, UPF-Peru held a forum in the Congress on a culture peace.
June 2009 has proved to be a difficult month for Peru. Following a long period of disagreement between the Alan Garcia government and the indigenous people in the Amazon forest in the north of Peru, the native residents blocked the main roads in protest against plans to allow oil and logging companies to enter what they consider to be their own land. Unfortunately, the fighting that followed this blockade left 24 policemen and 11 local people dead. (These are official figures, but there are rumors that many bodies were hidden after the conflict.)
Prior to these terrible circumstances, UPF-Peru had been planning together with Congresswoman Margarita Sucari to hold a forum entitled “Constructing a Culture of Peace in Peru.” The planning committee members were very concerned about the security of this event, since protest marches and demonstrations were being held daily in the center of Lima. However, after some serious consideration, we decided to proceed with the meeting.
On June 18, in the Congress of Peru, some leading speakers and an audience of dignitaries, Ambassadors for Peace, and students gathered in the Faustino Sánchez Carrión auditorium. The meeting was opened by Congresswoman Sucari, the co-sponsor of the event. Distinguished speakers included the Minister of Defense, Dr. Antero Flores Araoz, whose theme was “The Defense of Peace.” Other presenters included Congressman Dr. Pedro Santos, spng on Ethics in Education; sociologist Manuel Arana Soto, on “Constructing Peace in Civil Society”; and Dra. Bertha Chong Long, speaking about the Education of Values. UPF President Arq. Luis Huarcaya’s topic was “Social Inclusion -- The Way to True Peace in Peru.” He also gave a report about the World Summit on Peace that he recently attended in Seoul, Korea. Women's Federation for World Peace Advisor Mrs. Faith Jones concluded this part of the program by speaking on the theme of “ Living For the Sake of Others.”
The stage was then prepared for our traditional inter-religious ceremony of lighting candles for peace. Representatives of various Christian denominations together with the imam for Peru and the President of the Muslim Association (currently Vice President of UPF) joined with an Inca priest to participate in this simple but significant ceremony. Participants included:
Willca Tahuiro, Inca Priest
Rev. Roberto Abugattas, Church of Christ
Imam Sheikh Kalil Muhamed
Pastor Luis Acero, Christian Missionary Church
Rev. David Cauracuri, Representative of the Brotherhood of Peruvian Pastors
Mrs. Faith Jones, Women's Federation for World Peace
Pastor Orestes Sanchez, Evangelical Church
Sr. Damin Awad, President of the Muslim Association of Peru
Prayers were offered in conclusion and the imam, Sheik Kalil Muhamed, offered a few words. The meeting concluded with offerings of peace poems by two guests and the appointment of new Ambassadors for Peace.
The reflections of many people who attended were that this meeting had made an important contribution to the work for peace in Peru. Everyone was impressed by the presence of the Minister of Defense who, even though he is deeply involved in the resolution of the problems in the north, took time to come and share his vision for peace.