to president Bush
Mexico D.F., September 21, 2001
Mr. D. George W. Bush,
President of the United States of America,
Washington, D.C., USA
Dear Mr. President,
In the first place, I wish to reiterate the solidarity and condolence that I expressed to your nation last Tuesday, September 11 following the news of the sad events that occurred in your country and likewise, my indignation and condemnation of the threats that these acts of terrorism imply.
During the last few days I have been watching expectantly the evolution of events, trying to use my good offices to obtain that the reply to these tragic happenings should be reflection, not blindness; gentleness, not anger; the search for justice, not revenge. I have appealed to the conscience of the nations of the world, to the communication media, to eminent personalities with whom I share an ethical commitment to peace, to the Heads of nations and leaders of international organisations so that gentleness would illuminate our acts.
However, Mr. President, when I heard last night the message that you addressed to the Congress of your country, I was unable to repress a feeling of fear for what could be interpreted from your words. You call your country to get ready for "a long campaign such as never been seen so far" and you have asked your armed forces to save their pride going to a war to which you want all nations of the world to form part of.
In the name of progress, pluralism, tolerance and freedom, you leave no option to those of us who do not have the good fortune of sharing the feeling of freedom and the fruits of civilisation that you desire to defend for your country, and who, moreover, have no sympathy for terrorism precisely because we have been its victims. We who are proud expressions of other civilisations; we who live day to day with the hope of converting discrimination and deprivation into recognition and respect, we who harbour in our hearts and minds the pain of genocide perpetrated against our peoples; we who are fed up of so many deaths in alien wars, we cannot share the arrogance of your infallibility nor the univocal road that you wish to push us on to when you affirm that "All nations in all regions must take a decision now: either they are with us or with the terrorists".
At the beginning of this year, I invited the men and women of the planet to share an Ethical Code for a Millennium of Peace claiming that:
There will be no Peace if there is no Justice There will be no Justice if there is no Equity There will be no Equity if there is no Development There will be no Development if there is no Democracy There will be no Democracy if there is no respect for the Identity and the Dignity of Nations and Cultures.
In the world of today, all these values and practices are scarce; however, the unequal way in which they are distributed only nourishes impotence, despair and hatred. The role of your country in the current world order is far from being neutral. Last night we were expecting a sensible, reflexive and auto-critical message but what we heard was an unacceptable threat. I agree with you that "the course of this conflict is not known" but when you affirm solemnly that "its result is certain", the only certainty that invades my mind is that of a new and useless gigantic sacrifice, that of a new and colossal lie.
Before you declare the word "Fire", I would like to invite you to think of a different kind of world leadership - a leadership in which you will need not to conquer but to convince; a leadership in which the human race can show that in the last thousand years we have overcome the meaning of "eye for eye" that justice had for the barbarians who plunged humanity in mediaeval obscurantism; a leadership in which new crusades would be unnecessary to learn to respect those who have a different idea of God and the work of His creation; and finally a leadership in which we share with solidarity the fruits of progress and take better care of the resources that still remain on the planet, seeing to it that bread and a school is lacking to no child.
With hope hanging from a thread, I take this opportunity to renew to you the assurances of my highest consideration.
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Nobel Prize Winner for Peace
Ambassador for Goodwill and Culture of Peace
Published by ALAI