May 30, 2014
The city of Antigua Guatemala set the stage for the "Educating to Remember” educational forum carried out together with Universidad de San Carlos at the ruins of the Capuchinas Convent.
Dr. Carlos Guzmán Böckler, sociologist, anthropologist, humanist, lawyer, and writer emeritus of Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala participated in the forum. He gave a historical perspective as to the causes of WWII and the genocide of the Jewish people, emphasizing fundamental issues such as hate, intolerance, oppression, authoritarianism and brutality as determining factors in anti-Semitic laws, and reminding the audience that even nowadays, there is still an interplay between admiration for the Jews and discrimination against them.
Byron Arturo Pelén Morales, representative of Universidad de San Carlos addressed the importance of how, where and why different human rights violations can be committed either by states or institutions:
"Our Constitution specifically protects people from the moment of conception. And likewise, it is also worth noting that there are different ways that the rights of all human beings can be violated. There are systematic violations, there are violations through actions, violations of omission, and violations of exclusion. When the state basically goes above and beyond and tries in every way possible to prevent the development of society, to deny their rights and guarantees, when that integral development is truncated, we can say that there is a systematic violation."
Liseth Morales Porras, member of the National Council for the Protection of La Antigua Guatemala, said the following regarding respect:
“While respect is a fundamental value, we have to keep in mind that we must not confuse it with acts like complicit silence when we should instead make efforts that contribute to the solution of major problems. Respect implies tolerance, which is understood as the acceptance of others' conditions; nevertheless, tolerance is not simply giving in or reconciling the unreconciled. Respect begins within people themselves, and it is based on natural laws.
The original state of respect is based on the recognition of oneself as a unique individual, an inner life force, a spiritual being, a soul. The heightened awareness of knowing who I am emerges from a genuine space of pure value. With this perspective we can have faith in ourselves and our inner strength and integrity. By understanding our own selves we experience true self-respect, this is why "Education to Remember" is so important, so that we don’t forget the mistakes, the crimes against humanity committed against an individual or group.”
Other Forum participants included Maritza Moreira, representative of Universidad de San Carlos; Ms. Abigail Lopez, representative of the Human Rights Office in Sacatepequez; chroniclers of the Congress of Guatemala; university professors and students from Universidad de San Carlos, Universidad Mariano Gálvez, and Universidad Rural de Guatemala; high school students from Colegio Cayalá in San Pedro Las Huertas, and from Instituto Normal para Varones Antonio Larrazabal (INVAL).
At the conclusion of the forum, there was a photographic exhibition of the Holocaust, and the commemorative plaque of Holocaust survivor Regina Sztelcner Engelberg (who has lived in Guatemala since 1946) was displayed. The plaque contains a brief description of her life experiences during the Nazi regime.