Peace Arena in Verona

Arena di Pace 2024 (May 17-18) resumes the experience of the Arenas of Peace of the eighties and nineties

Arena di Pace 2024 (May 17-18) resumes the experience of the Arenas of Peace of the eighties and nineties and arrives ten years after the last one (April 25, 2014). The initiative is born from the realization that the world scenario of a “third world war in pieces”, of which Pope Francis often speaks, is concrete and dramatic in its consequences, also touching Italy closely, given that there are conflicts in Europe and in the Mediterranean basin.

Hence the urgent need to ask ourselves how to understand peace in the current global context and what processes to invest in to build it. From the beginning, in fact, Arena di Pace 2024 was conceived as an open and participatory process. More than 200 civil society entities and associations, some of which are part of the 3MM Italy coordination, have joined the five thematic tables identified: 1) Peace and Disarmament; 2) Integral Ecology; 3) Migrations; 4) Work, Economy and Finance; 5) Democracy and Rights.

The tables correspond to many other areas considered essential to achieve a deeper and more adequate understanding of what needs to be done today to promote a just and authentic peace. The result of the tables is the result of the sharing of the different contributions that emerged in the areas to have an overall vision, just as Pope Francis invites us to do about the paradigm of integral ecology, from which to deepen and launch subsequent initiatives.

We have known Father Alex Zanotelli for years. Together we attended an event at the Federico II University of Naples during the Second World March in November 2019. He played the important role of messenger.

We report part of his speech in front of the Pope and the Arena audience (10,000 people). “…It is the first time that an Arena of Peace has the bishop and the mayor of Verona as sponsors. We have agreed together that the Arena of Peace cannot be an event, but rather a process to be held every two years.

The fundamental objective is to promote a broad convergence of the various associative and popular realities to form a great popular movement capable of shaking our government and also that of the EU itself, prisoners of an economic-financial-militarized system.

How can we talk about peace if we make war on the poor?

I am a Comboni missionary who went to Africa to convert. Indeed, how can we talk about peace if we make war on the poor? Indeed, today we live in a financial economic system that allows 10% of the world's population to consume 90% of the goods (scientists tell us that if everyone lived our way, we would need two or three more Earths).

Half of the world's population has to make do with 1% of the wealth, while 800 million people go hungry. And more than a billion live in shanties. Pope Francis states in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium: “This economy kills.” But this system is only sustained because the rich arm themselves to the teeth. Sipri data shows that in 2023 the world's rich spent $2440.000 billion on weapons. A small country like Italy spent 32.000 billion. Weapons that serve to defend our privileged place in this world and to obtain what we do not have.

How to talk about peace in a world where there are more than 50 active conflicts?

How to talk about peace in a world where there are more than 50 active conflicts? The path of rearmament underway in Europe and throughout the world could lead us to the abyss of a third atomic world war and, therefore, to “nuclear winter.” That is why Pope Francis affirms in the encyclical Fratelli Tutti that today “there can no longer be a just war.”

A painful consequence of this system of ours today are emigrants, more than 100 million according to the UN; They are the impoverished of the world who knock on the doors of the rich nations. But the United States and Australia reject them.

Europe, with its racist policies of “externalization” of its borders, tries to keep them as far away from us as possible, paying billions to the dictatorial governments of North Africa and Turkey, which has received more than nine billion euros to keep at least four million Afghans, Iraqis and Syrians fleeing the wars waged by the West in detention camps.

The most bitter consequence of these criminal policies is that 100.000 migrants are now buried in the Mediterranean! In the face of this serious global situation that grips us, hope can only emerge from below.

We must all become aware of reality, unite and little by little create strong popular movements that shake our governments, prisoners of this system.

The work carried out in the five tables among hundreds of popular realities and associations to prepare the Arena of Peace must be reproduced throughout the country to prepare the ground for a great popular movement.

And we will see you in two years at the “Arena for Peace 2026″… when the Third World March has passed (hopefully… after the experience of the second one with Covid we remain hopeful but aware that anything can be) and it has been planted. (perhaps at the beginning) the path to the fourth edition.

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