Inaugurating the recent OAS Assembly in San Pedro Sula, Honduaran President Manuel Zelaya spoke about nonviolence as follows:
“The topic of nonviolence is essential during this century. Violence has grown exponentially and has many faces. Nonviolence must be the guiding principle of society, of the state vis-à-vis citizens, and of the state vis-à-vis states.
“Nonviolence must take the form of ongoing dialogue for the creation of a just, equitable, and inclusive world order, based on solidarity and respect for human beings, the dignity of individuals, and restructuring of the international community and its institutions.
“Nonviolence is the principle of action that rejects force, which is the major cause of violence. While the causes of violence are numerous, as you all know, so too should be the responses and the actions of nonviolence.
“This is the approach we must have in the short, medium, and long terms if we are to build a society based on other principles, principles that must steer our ways of acting and thinking in our society.”
“Nonviolence is an active principle of society and of human beings. It is a principle that grants the right to legitimate civil disobedience, to resistance, and to peaceful protest and dissent.
Violence is a de facto situation. It is unacceptable for persons and for states. Violence can never be legitimate. Even though it is defending rights, violence cannot be viewed as more than a temporary de facto situation in a society. It should never be the means of solving problems. Rather violence exacerbates problems.
“Violence is any type of constraint in its many manifestations that makes it impossible for citizens to participate on equal terms, whether economic, social, or political. Any form of constraint constitutes violence.
“It has the Charter of the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, and the Democratic Charter, which must all be updated to include this change and this means of achieving nonviolence.”
He concluded his inaugural speech saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I declare installed this lofty Assembly, this thirty-ninth regular session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States. For freedom and hope in the Hemisphere, for a future in harmony with all countries of the Americas, we shall try to establish, forge, and develop a culture of nonviolence.
“Here among us is the voice of Mahatma Gandhi, the martyr of nonviolence; Jesus Christ, prophet and God made man who preached these words; Martin Luther King, who, with his life, defended the civil rights of people who had been the subject of discrimination; Abraham Lincoln, who did his utmost and gave his life to forge democratic nations respectful of the rule of law; and Morazán, Martí, Sandino, and Bolívar, who share our principles and our ideas.”Φ
Zelaya photo: http://www.examiner.com.