Pluralistic and diverse focuses in the construction of an inclusive globalization

2001-03-21 00:00:00

Only the creation of plural and diverse societies, based upon the principles of equality, the autonomy of peoples and persons, the recognition of universal citizenship and independence from any colonial or neo-colonial imposition, will permit humanity to move towards this great advance of civilization that is the challenge of the new millennium.

Only the development of open and inclusive ways of thinking that recognize the diverse world views of peoples, their multiple forms of expression, production of knowledge, creation, art and wisdom will drive us toward the necessary rupture with having only one way of thinking, which imposes the hegemony of a dominant minority's values, passing them off as universal.

The necessary rupture with the idea of only one model, the model of neoliberal globalization, that of the god capital, that of exclusion as a rule and not exception and the rise of alternative models, based on the equality of people, that eliminate the gaps created by structural racism, will open the door to a universal reconciliation based on valuing all persons, peoples, and groups.

After centuries of producing a history of the submission of the majorities to the will and interests of a minority, plural and diverse thinking cannot spontaneously arise in one generation, but, rather, must be the fruit of a process of collective construction and consensus.

In this process, we must recognize that, in the Americas, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance do not affect only a minority, as commonly believed. On the contrary, they affect thousand-year-old indigenous peoples made up of millions, that are the backbone of powerful civilizations, that rise up and resist and because of this are living.

They affect persons of African descent that have syncretized the African with the local and invented a new universe, recent and ancient, that is still here today, after five centuries.

They affect millions of people categorized by sub-ethnicities, the results of innumerable mixtures and hierarchies of attachment or distance, real or fictitious, from the white standard.

They affect millions of persons who, to the rhythm of the processes of globalization, emigrate from the peripheries to international and local centers; those who, being natives on their own land, become "others," "outsiders," who in many contexts are considered undesirable.

They affect those who must flee, or, more precisely, are forced to flee in order to escape the bullets, and must settle in other lands, which are not always supportive.

They affect, in total, the majorities of all areas, who become minorities for various motives: gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, ways of life, age, and other circumstances, and for whom, with the addition of poverty, the exclusions multiply.

As such, discrimination, racism, and intolerance affect almost the entire world. They almost never come alone, as generally there is a combination of these and other forms of discrimination and exclusion.

The themes being dealt with in the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance, organized by the UN and whose preparations unite us here, touch upon the heart of these complexities in the Americas.

The problems that will be debated in this Forum, within the current context of globalization, have to do with the survival of the majority of ethnicities and cultures, peoples and nationalities, and with the creation of a collective future projection, where racism and discrimination no longer erode human, personal, and collective relations.

To set the foundation of this future in the whole and harmonious world views that for thousands of years have nourished what is ours, the movements of recent decades have joined the proposal for the future with visions of diversity and pluralism, where the recognition of peoples, diversity of ways of life and options, gender equality and, in sum, a search for the creation of human dignity, will not be mere rhetoric.

A proposal in which globalization is not the nightmare of a uniform and homogenous world defined by the market and its single authoritarian way of thinking, but rather a polychromatic world that expresses the multiplicity of peoples and cultures and the diverse alternatives of development, the multiple ways of thinking and doing things.

With our eyes set on the future, as organizations and movements from various parts, we set ourselves within the process of this Conference, the duty of exercising the diversity and pluralism among us, recognizing that these are the best foundations for the construction of sustainable democracies, from our proposals and practices, when this new century of resistance and fighting for what is ours has already begun.

In this part of the world, divided by racism, the convening this Conference cannot be just a date or an event, but rather an opportunity: that of making clear that racism is not a problem of blacks, nor an innate trauma of indigenous peoples; that xenophobia is not the maladjustment of emigrants in their new contexts; and that intolerance is not the maladjustment of "minority" groups, who dare to have their own beliefs, ways of life and cultures, but rather that of those who generally, under authoritarian criteria, do not admit the existence of a diverse world with equal rights for all, and foster racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism.

It is the opportunity to show that the antithesis of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination are proposals for a future that is plural, diverse, pluricultural and holistic, which, like all things possible, begins in the home. It is this that gathers us together here, the urgency of taking action so that endoracism does not destroy us from within, and so that, based in self-knowledge, the affirmation of identities, we continue with the process of coming to consensus on proposals and alternatives based in the recognition of the universal nature of human rights, in their interdependence and indivisibility, implying that all rights, individual and collective, civil, political , social, cultural and developmental, must be unconditionally applied by all governments and institutions, on the same level, to all people. It is this that we lack.

Under discussion here also are the challenges of the common agenda: the rights of indigenous peoples and nationalities, which once again have to do with the "s" in peoples, so demanded within the framework of the decade, and which in the context of the World Conference that we are being called to must now correspond to a true place for the governments of these peoples in the community of nations.

There are also the rights of persons of African descent, their liberation from prisons, real and symbolic; the unconditional de-colonization of peoples and mentalities; the rights of all the peoples of the Diaspora, so that people can circulate freely, as merchandise and goods already do.

We also have the legislative proposals which look to penalize racism, xenophobia and intolerance, and their application where they already exist. And, moreover, that these are declared as crimes against humanity, so that impunity ends once and for all.

Related to this are the proposals for reparations to the victims, so that the sanctioning and the end of impunity become tangible.

Also a part of the proposals is the participation of excluded persons in all areas, in politics, decision-making, and the antiracist democratization of societies and institutions, both national and international.

We must point out that proposals have also been made to change cultures of communication, so that their mechanisms stop discriminating and serve to advance society.

This deals with a central aspect of any proposal for society in a context in which a good part of human relations are being defined, more and more, by structural relocation and by the collectivities dealing with communicational possibilities and access to information and knowledge, to which the social groups and peoples who are discriminated against and excluded find themselves affected and at an obvious disadvantage.

The relations of power generated in the political sphere are very much defined by access to information, whose shortage cuts off the participation of groups and peoples who are discriminated against and limits the viability of other practices inherent to democratic validity, such as: the freedom of thought and opinion, free will and expression, which can only be carried out when the flow of diversified and plural information allows for the creation of autonomous spaces for citizens and a public opinion with its own ideas.

The 21st century has just begun in a world divided by differences of ethnicity, religion, gender and others, and overcoming them depends upon the search for the creation of a world of dialogue, based in the strengthening of ethics, in whose process the media and systems of communication are key players.

The generation of open and democratic processes of communication, marked by an ethic of diversity and pluralism, is a necessary condition for the democratic consolidation of peoples and the construction of peace, whose sustainability will be optimized through the strengthening of mechanisms that increase the possibilities for dialogue, communication, exchange, and consensus.

In this context, the right to communicate, related as much with the possibility of creating, in equal conditions, interactions of citizens at various levels as with the possibility of exercising individual and societal options, is an indispensable requisite for the construction of a new global citizenry, collective and individual.

The creation of democracies free of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance depends greatly upon the effective exercise of the right to communicate, guaranteeing full international access to and usage by groups of people who are discriminated against.

This implies the adoption of an ethic of diversity and pluralism and the profound democratization of the media and systems of communication, based on the recognition of their social function, now limited by the technocratic and commercial conceptions that dominate them.

The media and systems of communication act in the area of the formation of ideas and mentalities, in the construction of thought and subjectivity, and as such have the social responsibility of contributing to the diversification of systems of thinking and the formation of critical focuses.

There is a need to go deeper in the formulation of global ethical frameworks, which will permit the development of a an ecosophy of transcendence. The United Nations can contribute to this by opening up spaces that generate these redefinitions.

In view of the close relation between communication, globalization, and construction of society - and citizens - we suggest some priorities that we would like to see reflected in the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Forms of Intolerance:

1. The recognition of the right to communicate within the framework of human rights, taking into account that this has to do with the exercise of democratic participation, liberty of thought and expression, the exercise of citizenry and its access to various social interactions.
2. The development of an ethical framework of universal character, based in the criteria of diversity and pluralism, that serves as the backdrop of any communicational proposal, whether local or global.
3. The democratization of all communication systems and media, their diversification on all scales, and, consequently, access for all citizens, especially those groups and peoples discriminated against, to communicational goods and knowledge.
4. The affirmation of the social role of the media and systems of communication, their commitment to the eradication of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance, which implies the permanent opening of spaces for the affected peoples and sectors; the suppression of ethno and andro-centric messages; the development of inclusive language; making visible the various world views, ways and options of life, and cultures.

The diverse participation we have here breaks away from the prejudice that racism, xenophobia, and intolerance are issues that only concern indigenous peoples, afro-Americans and immigrants, and brings us toward a vision of commitments and looks to affirm that humanity is each and every one of us and that, as such, the construction of new mentalities and focuses of life is the responsibility of all.

Thank-you for being here, for bringing our voices together for an antiracist and multiethnic America that is plural and diverse.