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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cognitive dissonance and UNESCO

If you are content with the old world, try to preserve it, it is very sick and cannot hold out much longer. But if you cannot bear to live in everlasting dissonance between your beliefs and your life, thinking one thing and doing another, get out of the medieval whited sepulchers, and face your fears. I know very well it is not easy.  - Leo Tolstoy

Kendra Cherry describes cognitive dissonance as something that "can occur in many areas of life, but it is particularly evident in situations where an individual's behavior conflicts with beliefs that are integral to his or her self-identity."

The same holds true for international organizations such as the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that was created in 1945, according to its online introduction, "in order to respond to the firm belief of nations, forged by two world wars in less than a generation, that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace. Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity." 

This is the fundamental belief and mission statement of UNESCO that is contradicted by its celebration and preservation of the works of a man who advocated war without limits that led to a generation plunged into dirty wars and bloodshed.

The man whose life and works UNESCO is now safeguarding and no doubt seeking to impart to others is the man who advocated killing without mercy.
"Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy." - Ernesto "Che" Guevara Havana, Message to the Tricontinental April 16, 1967.
 This is the Ernesto "Che" Guevara who stood in the podium of the United Nations on December 11, 1964 and bragged of the firing squads were underway in Cuba: 

We must say here something that is a well-known truth and that we have always asserted before the whole world: executions? Yes, we have executed people; we are executing people and shall continue to execute people as long as it is necessary.
 Che Guevara was an admirer of Mao Zedong and his formulation of guerilla warfare is adapted from the Chinese leader. Che published influential manuals Guerrilla Warfare (1961) and Guerrilla Warfare: A Method (1963), which were based on his own experiences and partly chairman Mao Zedong's writings. Guevara stated that revolution in Latin America must come through insurgent forces developed in rural areas with peasant support. His international legacy of glorifying violence through an erroneous analysis of guerilla warfare, based on his experiences with the Batista army, which was too incompetent and corrupt to fight, and applying Zedong’s writings on the subject led to bloodbaths in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chiapas, Congo, Angola and decades of military dictatorship and political violence. 

Meanwhile, a man of peace, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas who died on July 22, 2012 under suspicious circumstances that point to Cuban government involvement whose writings are ignored by UNESCO. Until the present date the request by the Payá family to the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the killings of Oswaldo and Harold Cepero have not been responded to. Perhaps, the inaction is another example of cognitive dissonance at the United Nations.

UNESCO claims to want to defend peace and sustainable development and offers as part of its mission concrete parameters to build and enable networks of solidarity between and among nations by:
  • Mobilizing for education: so that every child, boy or girl, has access to quality education as a fundamental human right and as a prerequisite for human development.
  • Building intercultural understanding: through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity. UNESCO created the idea of World Heritage to protect sites of outstanding universal value.
  • Pursuing scientific cooperation: such as early warning systems for tsunamis or trans-boundary water management agreements, to strengthen ties between nations and societies.
  • Protecting freedom of expression: an essential condition for democracy, development and human dignity.
 Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his allies that took power in Cuba did away with freedom of expression and created a totalitarian dictatorship that has prevented the return of democracy to Cuba for over 54 years. Even today Amnesty International describes the climate of fear that exists in Cuba imposed by restrictions on freedom of expression.

Instead of the shameful celebration of Guevara perhaps UNESCO should look to preserving and protecting the works and legacy of  Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas who on December 17, 2002 said the following at the European Parliament and lived it until his dying day:
 “ The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear. I do not wish to impose my truth, nor do I wish you to impose yours on me. We are going to seek the truth together.”
This would be an act in accordance with the mission and values that UNESCO claims to uphold and would starkly contrast with the shameful action of June 18, 2013 that is in contradiction to the very values this organization claims to uphold.

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