San José, 21 April 2017. The University for Peace commemorated the victims of the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 with an all-day event organized in cooperation with the Berg Institute and the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio.  Guests included Costa Rican First Lady, Mercedes Peñas, and representatives from the Embassy of Spain and the European Union in Costa Rica, as well as scholars and artists.

In her opening speech, the First Lady said “Guernica, without a doubt, represents a human tragedy, but it is also a reminder of the worst actions that the darkest spirits of our species are capable of executing.

“In Costa Rica, we have managed to consecrate social harmony based on justice and education, with political stability, founded on the abolition of the armed forces as a permanent institution since 1948.

“It is not strange, therefore, that we are now in the campus of the University for Peace in Costa Rica and it is not strange either that, less than one kilometer away from this room, in a beautiful monument which I invite you all to visit at some point, the words of Japanese philanthropist Rioichi Sasakawa are displayed. In a moment of profound inspiration, he said ‘fortunate is the Costa Rican mother who knows, at the time of giving birth, that her child will never be a soldier’.

May destiny and life make it possible for the words of Sasakawa to become a prophecy throughout the world.  So the mothers of the world, like the mothers of Guernica, never have to suffer the death of their children by the machine gun of the invading soldier.”

You can watch Ms. Mercedes Peñas full presentation here: https://youtu.be/ra2lDuMDQVs