Thursday, February 21, 2013
Congress of the Republic of Paraguay
National Deputy Emilia Alfaro Franco, First Lady of the Nation and Second Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies; Minister of National Defense, Dr. María Liz García de Arnold; Honorary Consul of Israel, Max Haber; esteemed congressmen; members of the diplomatic body accredited to the Republic of Paraguay; Holocaust survivor Sima de Gutsztein; and members of the Jewish community; ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
It is an honor for me to be in this democratic space and be able to address you regarding the installation of the Traces to Remember plaque, a project of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace that promotes and defends respect for life and human dignity, which emerged as a response to the serious problem of not learning from our mistakes.
We are surprised that in the 21st century, the voices that deny the Holocaust are not only being heard, but are being spread, despite the fact that the genocide that occurred during World War II is a stain on the history of the human species, and its aftermath continues to impact the lives of millions of people. There have been many more genocides, even you were victims of a genocide during the War of the Triple Alliance, after which your population decreased from 1,300,000 to 200,000 people. However, what happened with the Jewish people was developed with particular characteristics, because for the Nazis, it was even more important to kill the Jews than to win the war.
When the fighting was over, the Allies had to ratify the London Charter, which became the basis for the Nuremberg Trials and the legal tool to try the atrocities of the concentration camps and the gas chambers. Until then, there had been no definition of a crime depicting such horrific behavior.
Today we have Ms. Sima de Gutsztein with us, a Shoah survivor who has engraved her handprints, along with those of her descendants. The testimony of her suffering leads us with certainty to the urgency and need for creating legislation and supporting projects that promote the defense of human rights and respect for differences, be they political, religious, or of any other type.
Honorable legislators, you have been given the privilege of enforcing the beautiful words of the preamble of your national Constitution, which after invoking God, recognizes human dignity in order to secure freedom, equality, and justice. After reading this, we knew that our project, Traces to Remember, would fit within that supreme commandment.
Creating just laws that seek the peace, harmony, well-being, and prosperity of its fellow citizens is one of the highest honors to which one can aspire. These laws will become bastions against discrimination, hatred, and violence.
Additionally, there is another important tool for this purpose: education. For it is through education that we can prevent the recurrence of genocide anywhere in the world. May the Paraguayan people rise up in defense of human rights, upon the threat of a similar atrocity against any group of people, whether it be for reasons of religion, culture, or nationality. May the Paraguayan people be the leader of peace, harmony, and concord among nations.
To achieve this goal, I would like to propose to you with utmost respect that through a law of Congress, the Holocaust or Shoah be included as a subject of debate in high schools and colleges, and as a course of study or a case study in universities. And if this idea is welcome among you, I offer all the assistance that the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace can provide.
Thank you very much.
Dr. William Soto Santiago
Ambassador of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace