Open Letter to George W. Bush
by Rigoberta Menchu Tum
1992 Nobel Peace Prize
Goodwill Ambassador for the Culture of Peace
23 September 2001
To Mr. George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
Washington DC, USA.
Your Excellency, Mr. President:
In the first place, I want to reiterate to you the solidarity and condolences
I expressed to all your people on Tues. Sept. 11 when I became aware
of the painful occurrences that had taken place in your country, as
well as to share my indignation and condemnation of the threats these
acts of terrorism constitute.
In recent days I have been following the evolution of events, using
my best efforts so that the response to them would be reflection, not
obsession; prudence, not rage; and the pursuit of justice, not revenge.
I invoked the consciousness of the world's peoples, the communications
media, the eminent personalities with whom I share an ethical commitment
to peace, the heads of state and leaders of international bodies, in
order that prudence illuminate our acts.
Nevertheless, Mr. President, upon listening to the message you gave
to the Congress of your country, I have been unable to overcome a sensation
of fear for what may come of your words. You call upon your people to
prepare for "a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever
seen" and for your soldiers to save their honour by marching to
a war in which you intend to involve all of us, the peoples of the world.
In the name of progress, pluralism, tolerance and liberty, you leave
no choice for those of us who are not fortunate enough to share this
sensation of liberty and the benefits of the civilization you wish to
defend for your people, we who never had sympathy for terrorism since
we were its victims.
We, who are proud expressions of other civilizations; who live day
to day with the hope of turning discrimination and plunder into recognition
and respect; who carry in our souls the pain of the genocide perpetrated
against our peoples; finally, we who are fed up with providing the dead
for wars that are not ours: we cannot share the arrogance of your infallibility
nor the single road onto which you want to push us when you declare
that "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make:
Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."
At the beginning of this year, I invited the men and women of the planet
to adopt a Code of Ethics for a Millennium of Peace sustaining 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 Progress
There will be no Progress if there is no Democracy There will be no
Democracy if there is no respect for the Identity and Dignity of the
Peoples and Cultures
In today's world, all these values and practices are scarce; nevertheless,
the unequal manner in which they are distributed does nothing but generate
impotence, hopelessness and hatred. The role of your country in the
present world order is far from being neutral. Last night, we hoped
for a sensible, reflective and self-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 declare that "its
outcome is certain", the only certainty that comes to me is that
of a new and gigantic useless sacrifice, of a new and colossal lie.
Before you cry "fire", I would like to invite you to consider
a different kind of world leadership, one in which it is necessary to
convince rather than to defeat; in which humanity is able to demonstrate
that in the last thousand years we have surpassed the meaning of "an
eye for an eye" which justice had for the barbarians who sank humanity
into medieval obscurantism; and that there is no need for new crusades
in order to learn to respect those who have a different conception of
God and the work of His creation; in which we would share in solidarity
the fruits of progress, taking better care of the resources still remaining
in the planet and that no child lack bread and a school.
With hope hanging by a thread, I greet you attentively,
Rigoberta Menchu Tum