A few weeks after my arrival in Washington, DC, some myths and prejudices that I had about USA begin to fall. Being a Brazilian born in the 80’s and raised in the 90’s, the first thing that came to my mind when I heard the word “Washington” was the economic consensus reached in 1989, which was often referred by Latin American politicians as one of the biggest causes for the economic failures in the continent during the 90’s.
However, now I can say that Washington is much more than that. In USA I had a warming and friendly welcome week from the Atlas Corps and America Solidaria staff, everyone welcomed me with open arms and big smiles. Thanks for that USA! Among several great activities in DC, the one which I enjoyed most was the monuments tours. Not only because I could walk around and see this beautiful and well planned city, but also because it was a unique way to better understand US history. In particular, I was very touched by the WWII Memorial. I believe it is essential to any society to have this sort of monument in order to always remember those who lost their lives fighting for a better future. Yet, such peaceful sites sometimes can make us forget about how many lives are being lost nowadays in places like Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Darfur, Kivu, and others. According to a recent report from the UN, the number of people uprooted from their homes by war and persecution in 2014 was larger than in any year since this sort of detailed record-keeping began. In other words, this is the worst humanitarian crises since the WWII and world leaders are not taking any steps to really change that.
While I was in DC another Latin American came to the city and reminded us about all these lives. Pope Francis spoke to the US Congress and addressing the current humanitarian crises he asked lawmakers “to respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.” Clearly, the ongoing policy of USA in these matters is everything but fraternal. It is well known that USA, and other big powers like Russia and China, supply weapons to different conflict zones worldwide. In view of that the Pope added: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money—money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”
Under these circumstances, it seems urgent that USA, as the biggest military power in our planet, immediately change its policy on these issues. If not to receive refugees from these areas, at least to stop to send weapons and promote violence in these regions. Otherwise, nearby the memorial which reminds the role that USA proudly played during the WWII, the next generations of Atlas Corps fellows might see a memorial for the shameful reality that we are living nowadays.