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Volume 16, Number 13
December 6, 2010


opinion

Also in this section:
Editorials: Political prosecutions; RSN on Wikileaks; and Banking secrecy
Sirias, Books that affected me
Inter American Press Association, Freedom of the press in Panama
Mining Watch Canada, On the Panama-Canada Free Trade Agreement (PDF)
Reporters Without Borders, Panama grants asylum to María del Pilar Hurtado
Bernal, Precautions?
Leis, Zero intolerance
Jackson, Bigotry and language
Article XIX and CIHRS, A problematic proposal to ban the vilification of religions (PDF)
Greenpeace, Suing US corporate spies
Amnesty International, Nicaragua must put an end to rape and sexual abuse of girls
Weisbrot, Economic integration and conflict resolution in South America (PDF)
Rafferty, Tax havens stunt Latin American development
McCartney, Dumbed-down nation
Steel, Bring back American manufacturing
Hightower, Simmering water war
Nasser, Peace held hostage to rotating US and Israeli elections
Avnery, "Islam is the solution"
Cristo, An encounter with the stars
Stimson, What America needs to learn from China
Letters to the editor

Zero intolerance
by Raúl Leis

It's clear that our country has advanced in tolerance, if it is compared with the colonial period when blacks and indigenous people, servants and slaves were expelled from within the walls of Panama City to the outskirts every afternoon. But an April 2010 human rights report shows that despite the integration of minority groups into society, there are still prejudices against new immigrants, blacks, indigenous people and homosexuals observed. It is unjustifiable that in the 21st century there are still these prejudices, which lead to intolerance and to discrimination against the mentioned groups. Despite constitutions and national laws inspired by the Declaration of the Rights of Man that give institutional assurances of toleration, transforming it into a moral principle and legal norm as a fundamental aspect of human rights, intolerance still permeates customs and social behavior.

The origin of intolerance is found in various factors that run from fanaticism, racism, religious and political fundamentalisms, authoritarianism and also ignorance. Its foundation rests upon an underlying exclusionary concept of others, which denies inclusion and denigrates and punishes diversity. It's an expression of Panamanian society, which is not only economically unequal, but also such in its social and cultural relationships.

Tolerance is upheld by two pillars. One is that no person has absolute possession of reason and truth. The second is the recognition and the placing of value upon the mutual respect that stems from the belief in the fundamental equality of all human beings.

It is essential to commit ourselves to respect the opinions of others, especially if they are different from ours, and to understand that conflict enriches when it is resolved democratically, and that all points of view express different ways of looking upon and appreciating a given situation.

Thus lifelong education for all, the communications media, churches, the non-governmental organizations of civil society, culture and the arts, and political leaders and parties play a fundamental role that should orient, educate and give examples of tolerance.

Our principal challenge is the pluralistic construction of a tolerance that emphasizes not exclusion, by the inclusion of the greatest number of initiatives and points of view which is necessary for the growth of a democratic society. Tolerance is part of a set of principles of civil coexistence that help to make citizenship full and wholesome. It was best expressed by Pablo Neruda: "Converse with everybody. Don't fear the contagiousness of adversaries. No conflict is a closed tunnel and the light of understanding can enter from both ends."




Also in this section:
Editorials: Political prosecutions; RSN on Wikileaks; and Banking secrecy
Sirias, Books that affected me
Inter American Press Association, Freedom of the press in Panama
Mining Watch Canada, On the Panama-Canada Free Trade Agreement (PDF)
Reporters Without Borders, Panama grants asylum to María del Pilar Hurtado
Bernal, Precautions?
Leis, Zero intolerance
Jackson, Bigotry and language
Article XIX and CIHRS, A problematic proposal to ban the vilification of religions (PDF)
Greenpeace, Suing US corporate spies
Amnesty International, Nicaragua must put an end to rape and sexual abuse of girls
Weisbrot, Economic integration and conflict resolution in South America (PDF)
Rafferty, Tax havens stunt Latin American development
McCartney, Dumbed-down nation
Steel, Bring back American manufacturing
Hightower, Simmering water war
Nasser, Peace held hostage to rotating US and Israeli elections
Avnery, "Islam is the solution"
Cristo, An encounter with the stars
Stimson, What America needs to learn from China
Letters to the editor

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