Monday 31 December 2012

Fighting Poverty to Build Peace

Once again, as the new year begins, I want to extend good wishes for peace to people everywhere. With this Message I would like to propose a reflection on the theme: Fighting Poverty to Build Peace.

Poverty is often a contributory factor or a compounding element in conflicts, including armed ones. In turn, these conflicts fuel further tragic situations of poverty. “Our world shows increasing evidence of another grave threat to peace: many individuals and indeed whole peoples are living today in conditions of extreme poverty."

The gap between rich and poor has become more marked, even in the most economically developed nations. This is a problem which the conscience of humanity cannot ignore, since the conditions in which a great number of people are living are an insult to their innate dignity and as a result are a threat to the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community” 

In this context, fighting poverty requires attentive consideration of the complex phenomenon of globalization. This is important from a methodological standpoint, because it suggests drawing upon the fruits of economic and sociological research into the many different aspects of poverty. Yet the reference to globalization should also alert us to the spiritual and moral implications of the question, urging us, in our dealings with the poor, to set out from the clear recognition that we all share in a single divine plan: we are called to form one family in which all – individuals, peoples and nations – model their behaviour according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility.

Friday 14 December 2012


"You shall not kill" God


15 December at 19h, in Getafe, Madrid
From the City Hall Square to General Palacios

16 December at 19h, in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid
From Mayor Street to Cervantes Square

23 December at 18h in MADRID
From España Square to Puerta del Sol

Organised by Christian Cultural Movement, SAIn Political Party 
and Solidarity Youth Path


Campaign for Justice in North-South Relations
You shall not kill (God)

Every day over 100,000 people die of starvation; half of them are children.


In the European Union 89 million tonnes of food are thrown away yearly. One hundred people could be fed with the food thrown out by supermarkets. Meanwhile, each day 100,000 people die of starvation on a planet full of natural wealth. Hunger crushes 85% of the world population.

In the midst of the reorganization of the imperialist economic system – the so-called "crisis", the wealth of humanity has increased, but hunger and the gap between the rich and the impoverished have also soared. The richest 10% owns 83% of the world’s wealth, with the top 1% alone accounting for 43% of global assets.

Speculation on food commodities markets: in 2007, pension funds, insurance, banks, etc. sought another source of profitability and found it in food. In Africa alone, mutual funds and multinational companies invested in 41 million hectares of arable land. Speculation on food results in an immediate increase in prices. In 2010, wheat rose by 130%, rice by 74% and corn by 31%. What do international agencies do about this crime? They keep quiet and hide the truth. What do we do? Speculation on foodstuffs is a crime we cannot tolerate.


Horrific Fire Revealed a Gap in Safety for Global Brands

Tehera Begum, 25, survived the factory fire

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Democracy or Manipulation of the Masses?

Long before the Soviet Union broke up, a group of Russian writers touring the United States were astonished to find, after reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all the opinions on all the vital issues were the same. “In our country,” said one of them, “to get that result we have a dictatorship. We imprison people. We tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. How do you do it? What’s the secret?”
The secret is a form of censorship more insidious than a totalitarian state could ever hope to achieve. The myth is the opposite. Constitutional freedoms unmatched anywhere else guard against censorship; the press is a "fourth estate", a watchdog on democracy. The journalism schools boast this reputation, the influential East Coast press is especially proud of it, epitomised by the liberal paper of record, the New York Times, with its masthead slogan: "All the news that's fit to print."
It takes only a day or two back in the US to be reminded of how deep state censorship runs. It is censorship by omission, and voluntary. The source of most Americans' information, mainstream television, has been reduced to a set of marketing images shot and edited to the rhythms of a Coca-Cola commercial that flow seamlessly into the actual commercials. Rupert Murdoch's Fox network is the model, with its peep-shows of human tragedy. Non-American human beings are generally ignored, or treated with an anthropological curiosity reserved for wildlife documentaries.
Extract of an article by John Pilger
Napoleon was to say: “the politics of the future will be the art of mobilizing the masses.” 

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Slavery Today

Millions of people are exploited and enslaved in the world today, forced to work without any pay, beaten, abused…  there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history. 

Poverty makes slave “supply” today cheaper than ever before. If slaves get sick, injured, outlive their usefulness, or become troublesome, they are dumped or killed. New slavery is directly connected to the global economy. As in the past, most slaves are forced to work in agriculture, mining, textile industry, prostitution… From these sectors, their exploited labor flows into the global economy, and into our lives.

"Attention needs to be paid to the deeper causes of the increased "demand" which fuels the market for human slavery and tolerates the human cost which results." John Paul II

Friday 16 November 2012

The Truth about Helen Keller

"The world is moved not only by the mighty stories of heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."  

Helen Keller

“So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me ‘arch priestess of the sightless,’ ‘wonder woman,’ and a ‘modern miracle.’ But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics—that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world—that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind.”
—Helen Keller (letter to Senator Robert La Follette, 1924)

Click here to Read the article: The Truth about Helen Keller, by Ruth Shagoury

Published in the Zinn Educational Project

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Dadaab Refugee Camp

A Somali refugee girl sits perched on a tree in Ifo camp

Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: 

"I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. 

Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. 

One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." 

Paula Nelson

Friday 9 November 2012

Malala's best friend continues her heroine's fight for girls' education

The best friend of Taliban shooting victim Malala Yousafzai has said she is praying for her school friend and is calling for more education for girls in Pakistan.

Kainat Riaz, 16, who was shot in the arm when the gunmen attacked her and Malala as they were returning home from school last month, told ITV: ‘I miss Malala. I am praying for Malala.’
15-year-old Malala was left fighting for her life after being targeted by Taliban gunmen on October 9 for speaking out against the militants and promoting education for girls.
In the barbaric attack, which caused outrage around the world, Malala was shot in the head and neck at point-blank range.
Both Malala and Kainat live in north-west Pakistan’s Swat Valley, which was under complete Taliban control from 2007 to 2009.
Speaking over the internet from Swat Valley, Kainat told ITV that she was not afraid to return to school after the attack and is studying hard.
The teenager said: 'Education is very important for girls and we need education. More, more, more.

Friday 26 October 2012

Noam Chomsky - Top 10 Media Manipulation Strategies

Noam Chomsky, the distinguished American philosopher, political activist and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has compiled a list of the ten most powerful and efficacious strategies used by “masters of the world” to establish a manipulation of the population through the media.

The strategies are so well-elaborated that even the countries with the best educational systems, succumb to the power and terror of those mafias. Many things are reported in the news but few are explained.

The job of media is not to inform, but to misinform: Divert public attention from important issues and changes decided by the political and economic elites, by the technique of flood or continuous flood of distractions and insignificant information.

Journalists who have access to highly placed government and corporate sources have to keep them on their side by not reporting anything adverse about them or their organizations. Otherwise they risk losing them as sources of information. In return for this loyalty, their sources occasionally give them good stories, leaks and access to special interviews. Unofficial information, or leaks, give the impression of investigative journalism, but are often strategic manoeuvres on the part of those with position or power (Ricci 1993: 99). ‘It is a bitter irony of source journalism … that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the “best” sources’ (quoted in Lee and Solomon 1990: 18).

The 10 Top Strategies:

1. The strategy of distraction

The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction which is to divert public attention from important issues and changes determined by the political and economic elites, by the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information.

Distraction strategy is also essential to prevent the public interest in the essential knowledge in the area of the science, economics, psychology, neurobiology and cybernetics.

“Maintaining public attention diverted away from the real social problems, captivated by matters of no real importance. Keep the public busy, busy, busy, no time to think, back to farm and other animals” (quote from text Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars).


Friday 12 October 2012

‘The Forbidden Education’, a documentary film.

On August 13 the documentary film The Forbidden Education will premiere online and in independent film centers. The film is a collectively funded project based on a study which spans eight Latin American countries and analyzes 45 unconventional educational experiences, closely examining the logic of modern schooling and its understanding of education. Moreover, it includes interviews with more than 90 education professionals who are applying alternative educational proposals, including the Montessori method, homeschooling, systemic pedagogy, popular education, free education, logosophical pedagogy, Kilpatrick project methods, new active schools, democratic schools, Waldorf education and the Reggio Emilia approach.

As the filmmakers explain, schools have existed for over 200 years and are still regarded as the main way of accessing education. And yet nowadays the very concepts of school and education are subject of debate in academic forums, public policies, educational institutions, the communication media and civil society. Those who challenge existing educational structures and practices agree that current models do not take nature, the freedom of choice or the importance of love and human relationships into account in individual and collective development.

Over the years, these critical reflections have given rise to proposals and practices which see education in different light, which have dared to challenge the traditional school model of education and whose ideas and experiences venture to explore The Forbidden Education.

See this documentary film online:

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Beyond Burma: Lessons in hope for refugee children

An estimated three million Burmese citizens were in exile during the dictatorship, the vast majority slaving as undocumented migrant workers in Thailand and throughout South East Asia.

Around 350,000 Burmese fled to the Mae Sot border city area, where most lived in sprawling refugee camps and struggle to feed, clothe and educate their children.

The Mae Sot region has around 70 migrant schools that  spontaneously started to meet the needs of the 30,000 children who have crossed the border from Burma. The students are a mix of refugees and economic migrants. Of this number only 7000 are currently attending these schools. The schools range in size from 20 to over 650 students. These schools receive no support from the Thai government and rely solely on resourcefulness and international support.

Founded in 1999 by head teacher U Khaing Oo Maung, the Boarding High School for Orphans and Helpless Youths  has been famous for offering a good education.

Monday 8 October 2012

Julián Gómez del Castillo

On 10 October, 1924, Julián Gómez del Castillo was born to a working-class family devoted to the ideal of justice in the destitute Spain. His father, following in his grandfather’s footsteps, member of that militant PSOE, died in jail at the time of the bourgeois Second Republic.

Capitalism robbed him of his childhood. At an early age he started working, he soon joined the fight for social justice, and together with his siblings and other children, were able to obtain funds for strikes. He sometimes remembered that being a child, he used to steal into the prison to take newspapers to his father.

Being young, he converted to Catholicism and was christened. Since then, fight for justice and Christian life were embodied together in him. In the Christian militancy he met Trini, a workwoman, and they joined their lives in Christian marriage. Later, they had four children and several miscarriages.

At that time, his devotion to the Christian ideal of justice materialised through the promotion of culture centres.  By the mid-40s he met Guillermo Rovirosa and the HOAC and joined the group of converts who strengthened the organisation. Together, they launched the newspaper “Tú” (“You”), which Franco decided to ban and close down. Those militants gave back hope to an absolutely dejected and humiliated working-class. Workers’ centres, courses, informative leaflets, incursion in the vertical Union…, every means was tried to take up the torch of historical solidarity among the poor again. While PSOE started their placid holidays in exile and gave up the militant promotion in Spain, Julián was mercilessly persecuted by Franquism and was even imprisoned and put under surveillance.    

Julián Gómez del Castillo

"Love to others cannot be measured by my possibilities but by their needs."

Julián Gómez del Castillo

Saturday 22 September 2012

Solidarity Youth Path’s "Operation: Awakening”

Solidarity Youth Path proposes a campaign that will culminate in a great March against Child Slavery throughout Spain in 2014. The first part of the campaign is called Operation: Awakening.
With this video they invite all young people with a solidarity spirit of goodwill to join this unavoidable cause.
Not even a single child slave in the world! This is not one more problem. This is not mere sentimentality. The tragedy of child slavery is the glaring proof of the institutional dis-order we are in. "Operation: Awakening" is a strong commitment and determination of political action to reveal the inviolable dignity of the human person, and therefore, of any child or young person.
Do not hesitate to get in touch with this organisation if you are interested in getting more information.

Operation: Awakening: against the causes of Child Slavery, Unemplyment and Labour Exploitation!

Saturday 15 September 2012

Chinese Slaves Write to Us

Extracted from

In Santiago de Compostela, a woman told us that while doing her Christmas shopping, she went past a Chinese Bazaar where she saw a note written in Chinese on a slip of cardboard but, as she couldn’t understanding a word, she gave it no importance. 
After translating it into Spanish, we were impressed by its content, which we want to make publicly known.

Dear friends,

When you are wearing these bags, do you know where they are made? These bags come from a Chinese prison. As prisoners, we have to work 19 hours a day. We have no time to rest, or much to eat, and still less do we have human rights. There is no freedom here, just work to do day and night non-stop.

Monday 10 September 2012

Samsung Accused of Enslaving Children and Exploiting Workers in China


Samsung Electronics, the world's largest mobile and smartphone maker, is being accused of exploiting younger workers and using factories in China where some employees were physically and verbally abused, and forced to work more than 100 hours per month of overtime.

China Labor Watch, a New York-based organisation set up by Chinese activist Li Quang in 2000, also alleges that its investigation of six Samsung-owned plants and two of its suppliers showed that safety measures – such as providing protective clothing for workers – were not followed.

Workers were barred from sitting during shifts and some suffered physical and verbal abuse, the organisation alleges in the 122-page report. The organisation said it investigated eight plants in China that produce mobile phones, media players, DVD players, TV components, mobile displays, printers, home appliances and mobile phone casings for Samsung. The plants' staff totals more than 24,000 workers.

Investigators entered the factories undercover, or spoke to workers away from the factories.

Samsung acknowledged to the Associated Press that poor working conditions "may have arisen" due to production demands and that a review would take place immediately.

Retail Fashion Chain Zara Accused of Child Slavery and Exploitation in Brazil

Zara owner is world's third-richest person

Amancio Ortega has been placed third on Bloomberg's latest list of the world's richest people thanks to his fashion company Inditex, and thanks to children and women's exploitation in Brazil, Morocco...

A number of articles in the international media over recent days have reported on an investigation by Brazil’s Ministry of Labour into the Spanish retail fashion chain Zara after a contractor in São Paulo was found to be using employees in sweatshop conditions to make garments for the company. According to The Guardian newspaper in the UK: “The Brazilian government listed 52 charges against Inditex, Zara’s parent company, after it ‘rescued’ 15 workers from a factory sub-contracted by AHA, the company responsible for 90% of Zara’s Brazilian production. Fourteen of the workers were Bolivians and one was from Peru. One was 14.”

Sunday 5 August 2012

Charles Dickens' Walk Against Child Slavery

On the occasion of Charles Dickens’ 200 birth anniversary, many tours have taken place along the streets of London. However, to our knowledge, none of them has had Child Slavery as its main theme. Dickens was not only a writer full of literary invention, but a moralist with a strong social conscience who showed empathy with the poor and criticised an inhumane system.

On this account and because there are 400 million child slaves in the world, Solidarity Youth Path, the youth organisation of Christian Cultural Movement, wishing to denounce this evil and to pay homage to Charles Dickens as a writer who appealed to society to take action for social change, is pleased to invite you to a Dickens’ Walk and Exhibition against Child Slavery along the streets of London.


This Walk starts at Borough Tube Station on 22nd August at 10:00 –we recommend being there 10 or 15 minutes before. The next stops will be as follows: John Harvard Library (Marshalsea Prison); Saint George Martyr Church; the George Coaching Inn; Borough Market; Clink Prison Museum; Southwark Cathedral; London Bridge; The Monument and Saint Paul’s Cathedral, where the Walk finishes. Afterwards, we are going to have lunch at Postman’s Park. We would be pleased to share the lunchtime with you to be able to talk about this experience and the different activities against child slavery that are being carried out worldwide, and particularly in Spain.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Fists of Freedom: An Olympic Story

It's been almost 44 years since Tommie Smith and John Carlos took the medal stand following the 200-meter dash at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and created what must be considered the most enduring, riveting image in the history of either sports or protest. But while the image has stood the test of time, the struggle that led to that moment has been cast aside.

In the photo, the U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised gloved fists in protest against discrimination. Smith and Carlos' famous gesture of resistance was the product of what was called "The Revolt of the Black Athlete." Amateur black athletes formed OPHR, the Olympic Project for Human Rights, to organize a black boycott of the 1968 Olympic Games. OPHR, its lead organizer, Dr. Harry Edwards, and its primary athletic spokespeople, Smith and the 400-meter sprinter Lee Evans, were deeply influenced by the black freedom struggle. Their goal was nothing less than to expose how the United States used black athletes to project a lie about race relations both at home and internationally.

OPHR had four central demands: restore Muhammad Ali's heavyweight boxing title, remove Avery Brundage as head of the International Olympic Committee, hire more black coaches, and disinvite South Africa and Rhodesia from the Olympics. Ali's belt had been taken by boxing's powers-that-be earlier in the year for his resistance to the Vietnam draft. By standing with Ali, OPHR was expressing its opposition to the war.

By calling for the hiring of more black coaches as well as the ouster of Brundage, they were dragging out of the shadows a part of Olympic history those in power wanted to bury: Brundage was an anti-Semite and a white supremacist, best remembered today for sealing the deal on Hitler's hosting the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. By demanding the exclusion of South Africa and Rhodesia, they aimed to convey their internationalism and solidarity with the black freedom struggles against apartheid in Africa.

Monday 25 June 2012

Opening Stanza from "The Rock", by T. S. Eliot

Knowledge without Wisdom, Poster by Paulo Zerbato

Opening Stanza from Choruses from "The Rock" (1934)

by  T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.

O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying.

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

How The Internet Is Making Us Stupid

Although the worldwide web has been around for just 20 years, it is hard to imagine life without it. It has given us instant access to vast amounts of information, and we’re able to stay in touch with friends and colleagues more or less continuously.

But our dependence on the internet has a dark side. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.

I’ve been studying this research for the past three years, in the course of writing my new book The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember. But my interest in the subject is not just academic. It’s personal. I was inspired to write the book after I realised that I was losing my own capacity for concentration and contemplation. Even when I was away from my computer, my mind seemed hungry for constant stimulation, for quick hits of information. I felt perpetually distracted.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Who Stole Helen Keller?

In these times of vast economic disparities and ecological crisis, children need examples of people throughout history who committed their lives to justice -- to bringing more equality and fairness to the world. Helen Keller, whose birthday we celebrate this month -- June 27th -- could be one of those role models. Instead, textbooks and children's literature distort her life's work and miss key opportunities to inspire young people to make a difference in the world.

Helen Keller worked throughout her long life to achieve social justice; she was an integral part of many social movements in the 20th century. Yet today, she is remembered chiefly as a child who overcame the obstacles of being deaf and blind largely through the efforts of her teacher, Annie Sullivan. While she may be hailed as a "hero" in lesson plans for today's children, the books recount only a fraction of what makes Helen Keller heroic.

Helen should be remembered for two things after she grew up: her "courage" and her "work with the blind and deaf." Of course, both are true. But none of the many books I reviewed mentioned her work as a socialist and suffragist -- movements that framed most of her life and were connected to her advocacy for people with disabilities. As Keller wrote in 1913, "The way to help the blind is to understand, correct, remove the incapacities and inequalities of our entire civilization."

As I continue today to search for thoughtful curriculum on people who worked for social change, I returned to more recent texts and web information on Helen Keller, hoping the last decade had served to renew an interest in her true heroism. Sadly, her life -- and life's work -- continue to be distorted.