Time to act, not just talk: Aleida Guevara writes in The Guardian
Campaign News | Wednesday, 13 October 2004
Che's daughter in London for the European Social Forum
Wednesday October 13, 2004
It is extremely dangerous for humanity that the president of the mightiest power on the planet publicly says that he speaks with and acts on behalf of God. What lies ahead for us? More of what is happening today in Afghanistan or Iraq? Is that the future for our children? We need to pull all our strength together to avoid such a future.
Today, more than ever before, it is important that thousands of people are coming together to confront this situation and to look for ways to achieve a more just and equal world.
For me, it constitutes a big honour to represent my people at the European Social Forum in London this week. When I say "my people", I refer to my continent - to the Mandinga, Congo or Carabali blood that runs through my veins.
I also refer to the very wise Asian culture that is part and parcel of our own culture. I feel able to do this because I was educated to respect and accept other cultures even if I do not understand them in their totality. Since I was young, I have understood how right Benito Juárez, the outstanding Mexican patriot, was when he said: "Respecting others' rights is the way to peace."
Some time ago, I first visited Brazil. I felt a tight knot in my heart, and I mean that literally. I thought the pain I felt would not let me go on. To see children living in the poorest conditions, being used by unscrupulous people for prostitution and drug trafficking, all this really made me very angry - because Brazil is one of the richest countries in my continent, with as many natural resources as you can think of, with vast expanses of very fertile land, with enough cattle to feed the whole continent.
How can it be possible that there are people, especially children, who live or survive in these conditions? How can such a situation be tolerated?
There in Brazil, I thought that we humans must have a limit to our patience and that, somehow, we must decide whether it is better to starve to death or to die fighting in an attempt to change this reality. Then I thought that my way of thinking could be the result of my education in a socialist society, with a different cultural and professional level, and with a different ideology. But none of these things are important when your children are dying right in front of your eyes and no one is willing to extend a helping hand. It does not matter who you are, man or woman - you just cannot continue living like that.
Rosa, an ordinary Brazilian woman, showed me this. She not only said the same thing that I have said, but also put words into practice: she died defending a piece of land to feed her children. It is for mothers like Rosa that I raise my voice, and it is for Rosa and for many others that we have to move forward.
Neo-liberal policies are destroying my continent. We are now importers of grains, when we used to be major producers. But it happens that the grain we produce does not belong to us any longer.
We cannot go on like this. It is important that honest men and women in Europe awaken to the reality of the historical debt they have to our peoples.
It is only because of the wealth looted from our lands and our people that their present high standards of living are possible.
When will this be stopped? An urgent answer is needed. Time passes quickly and it may happen that, by the time we realise what we have lost, we will not even have a place to live.
We all need to live in a better world. Solidarity and unity are indispensable in these times. Let us do our best. It is likely that only humans can dream. I do not know. But what I know is that only we have the capacity to make our dreams come true.
A better world is possible. The challenge lies in being able to act, rather than just talk.
· Aleida Guevara is a consultant paediatrician and eldest daughter of the Argentinian-born revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara. She is based at the William Soler Children's Hospital in Havana and has also worked in Angola, Ecuador and Nicaragua. She is author of the forthcoming book Chavez, Venezuela and the new Latin America