Collected Speeches from the visit by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins to Latin America 2013

Page 1

Bailiúchán aitheasc ó Chuairt Oifigiúil Uachtarán na hÉireann, Mícheál D. Ó hUigínn, ar Mheicsiceo, El Salvador agus Costa Rica 2013

Collected Speeches from the Official Visit by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins to Mexico, El Salvador & Costa Rica 2013

President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina with Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas, Archbishop of San Salvador at the Cathedral of San Salvador.

Clár an Ábhair Contents Memorial to the Batallón de San Patricio, Mexico


Lunch hosted by H.E. Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico


Irish Community Reception, Mexico


Enterprise Ireland Business Breakfast, Mexico


Ireland and Mexico: Partners in Opening Gateways to Real and Sustainable Growth for the Twenty-First Century, Mexico


Distinguished Guest Ceremony, Mexico


Ireland and Mexico in the Twenty-First Century: A Legacy of Friendship and a Shared Future, Mexico


Acto de Reconocimiento [Ceremony of Acknowledgement], El Salvador


Of Memory and Testimony: The Importance of Paying Tribute to Those Who Were Emancipatory, El Salvador


Economic & Trade Lunch hosted by Roberto Murray Meza,Honorary Consul of Ireland San Salvador


Lunch hosted by H.E. Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica


Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century: Reasons For Hope, Costa Rica


Memorial to the Batallón de San Patricio

Speech by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

Plaza San Jacinto, San Ángel, Mexico City Sunday, 20th October, 2013

Estimado Licenciado José Antonio Meade, Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, Estimado Sr. Leonel Luna Estrada, Delegado de la delegación Álvaro Obregón, Miembros de la comunidad irlandesa, Amigas y amigos, Sabina y yo valoramos enormemente que se encuentren aquí esta mañana para rendir homenaje al valiente Batallón de San Patricio. Me conmueve sobremanera poder reflexionar sobre las vidas de los hombres de ese Batallón, cuyos nombres se encuentran plasmados en la Plaza San Jacinto. [Sabina and I appreciate very much that you have joined us here this morning to honour the valiant ‘Batallón de San Patricio.’ I am very moved to have this opportunity to reflect on the lives of the men of this battalion, whose names are inscribed here in the Plaza San Jacinto.] The year 1847 has a very significant historical resonance in Mexico. The same year is also a most significant one in Ireland. Here in Mexico, 1847 is associated with the war with the United States. For an Irish audience, that year evokes the horrors of the Great Famine, which reached its nadir in 1847, or Black ’47, as it is referred to by many in Ireland. This plaque was created in 1959 by the Mexican sculptor Lorenzo Rafael whose Irish wife Stephanie – with us here today – comes from Galway, the same county as Captain John Riley. Behind the Irish names listed on the plaque – names like Hanly, Delaney, Kelly, Murphy and Dalton, Riley’s second in command – there are individual trajectories, stories of exile, chosen or imposed. It is very poignant to be gathered here this morning to pay our respects to this gallant group, themselves in many ways the descendants of an earlier scattering of Irish men across the armies of Europe and its empires. While little is known of these men’s individual stories, we can assume that they lived in tumultuous times; some may have travelled from Ireland; others from elsewhere in Europe. In making their journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States and then on to Mexico, they were seeking to escape hunger and poverty and to secure a better future. Today the lives of migrants remain marked by an intense vulnerability, and the experience of emigration is one that has a deep resonance for the people of Ireland and Mexico. This sensitivity gives us a particular empathy towards the destiny of the men listed on this plaque – the survival they struggled for, the opportunities they pursued and the difficult choices that they made.

President Michael D. Higgins and Jose Antonio Meade, Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, after a wreath laying ceremony at a memorial to the ‘Batallon de San Patricio’ at the Plaza San Jacinto in Mexico City. 5

Historical accounts speak of the bravery of the Batallón de San Patricio, and of the tactical ability and experience of its leader, Captain John Riley. Riley, also known as O’Reilly, is commemorated in this Plaza with this bust donated by the Embassy of Ireland as a gesture of friendship between the people of Ireland and the people of Mexico. In reflecting on the life of John Riley, we can also reflect on the experiences of all those who fought alongside him in the Batallón de San Patricio, or ‘los San Patricios’ as its soldiers were usually known. Riley’s Battalion made its last stand at Churubusco. Popular historian Tim Pat Coogan tells us that the fighting lasted three hours and ended only when the San Patricios ran out of ammunition. Of the 204 San Patricios involved in Churubusco, military records show that 35 were killed and 85 were captured, with 70 subsequently condemned to death by hanging. Some sentences were commuted but the cruelty of the floggings and the brandings on the face were only exceeded by the brutal hangings at San Ángel in September 1847. John Riley’s story of emigration echoes that of so many others who left Ireland in the 1840s, a time of great distress for the country. Riley left his native land to simply survive, to escape poverty and to seek a better life. He was from the West of Ireland, from Clifden in County Galway, an area I represented in the Irish Parliament for over 20 years. Es conmovedor estar de pie hoy en el centro de la pujante y moderna Ciudad de México y considerar que Riley llegó aquí luego de zarpar desde una pequeña aldea en la costa atlántica de Irlanda, lo que me lleva a pensar en su resistencia y en el coraje que se necesita para adaptarse a circunstancias tan cambiantes. [It is very moving to stand today in the centre of a thriving, modern Mexico City, to consider that Riley made his way here from that small village on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, and to reflect on the resilience and the courage that were required to adapt to his changing circumstances.] With the outbreak of conflict between the US and Mexico, soldiers on both sides were deployed in harsh conditions. For the San Patricios this was not a new experience. Riley and his comrades who formed the Batallón de San Patricio were men who had already endured hardship, either in their homeland of Ireland or elsewhere in Europe. Historians suggest that, after arriving in the US, they found themselves the victims of discrimination based on a religious belief they shared with Mexicans and, instead of becoming the beneficiaries of the longed for hope and opportunity, they were pressed into service against co-religionists. It was against this harsh backdrop that Riley decided to offer his services to the Mexican side, acting on an empathy that he and others who joined the San Patricios felt with the Mexican people. For this choice, the San Patricios were reviled and cruelly punished by one side in the conflict, but cherished and remembered by the other. Now, more than 150 years later, we have thankfully moved from the animosity and the prejudices of that conflict. But the identification with the Mexican cause by ‘los San Patricios’ has created an unbreakable link between our two countries. The San Patricios are solemnly remembered here each year in San Ángel, at the ‘Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones’ in Coyoacán, in Monterrey, in Saltillo and also in the county of Galway, which my family and I call home. As the names of these soldiers are called out, the Irish and Mexican communities are brought together to reminisce and celebrate our shared history and to cherish our friendship which runs so deep.


The people of Ireland and Mexico share a similar cultural vibrancy that sees life as a joyful experience to be lived to the full. We also share a deep appreciation of our respective diasporas and the rich contribution that they have made, and continue to make, in their adopted homes as well as to their ‘patrias.’

(L-R) Joe Costello TD Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Trade and Development, Antionio Saborit, Museum Director and Maria Teresa Franco Gonzalez Salals with President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina looking at the ‘Piedra del Sol’ at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

The late Patricia Bustamante Cox, a first generation Irish-Mexican who wrote two books about the San Patricios, describing their bravery on the battlefields of Matamoros, Monterrey and Churubusco, noted that:

“México y Irlanda son tierras de santos, héroes y poetas que no necesitan acudir a la leyenda para hallar en su realidad cotidiana elementos suficientes para hacer de la vida una obra de arte, donde hay que entregarlo todo, incluso la vida”. [Mexico and Ireland are lands of saints, heroes and poets who have no need to turn to legend to find in their everyday reality sufficient to convert life into a work of art, wherein all has to be given, even life itself”] The Irish community in Mexico has played a particular role in commemorating the San Patricios and we are indebted to people such as Patricia Cox and her family for making such a strong contribution to retaining this memory. We also recall the strong contribution to the Irish-Mexican narrative made by the late Séamus Fogarty, who sadly passed away very recently. Later today, I will be visiting the National Museum of Anthropology and I look forward to seeing the artefacts of the wonderful cultures that offer a tapestry of extraordinary richness from which contemporary Mexico can draw. Tomorrow, I will meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss the future of the great friendship between Ireland and Mexico. We shall of course discuss the considerable economic opportunities that clearly exist for our two countries and the potential for our businesses and educational institutions to work together, grow, and create jobs. Y me es grato decir que todo esto ocurrirá en un clima de mutuo entendimiento y empatía, arraigado en una historia en común entre amigos, una historia que se encuentra personificada en la memoria inspiradora del Batallón de San Patricio. Muchas Gracias. [All this, I am happy to say, will be against a background of common understanding and empathy, rooted in a history which is shared between friends – a history which is embodied in the inspiring memory of the Batallón de San Patricio. Thank you.] 7

Lunch hosted by H.E. Enrique Peña Nieto President of Mexico

Remarks by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

National Palace, Mexico City Monday, 21st October, 2013

Distinguido Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Licenciado Enrique Peña Nieto, Distinguida Sra. Angélica Rivera de Peña, Distinguidos representantes de los poderes legislativos y judiciales, Señores Secretarios, Distinguidos representantes de las comitivas oficiales de México e Irlanda, Amigas y Amigos, Es para mí un gran privilegio estar aquí para gozar de su distinguida compañía en el magnífico entorno del Palacio Nacional. Sr. Presidente, aprecio profundamente el gran honor que me ha concedido, así como a mi país, al invitarme a realizar esta visita a México. Le agradezco sinceramente a usted y a la Sra. Angélica Rivera de Peña la calidez de la bienvenida que recibimos mi esposa Sabina y yo. [It is a great privilege to be here today in your distinguished company and in the magnificent surroundings of the Palacio Nacional. [Sr. Presidente, I am deeply appreciative for the great honour that you have bestowed upon me, and upon my country, in inviting me to make this visit to Mexico. I thank you and Sra. Angélica Rivera de Peña most sincerely for the warmth of the welcome which has been extended to my wife Sabina and I.] Sr. Presidente, as I mentioned to you when we met earlier, this is not my first visit to Mexico. I first visited as a student in 1967 when Mexican friends introduced me to your wonderful country. Clearly much has changed in the intervening period. But what has not changed are the special qualities of Mexico and the Mexican people, the tangible and spiritual gifts, of this land and its people. Then, as now, I have been profoundly impressed by your extraordinary heritage and the value which the Mexican people attach to this legacy. I remember still the pride with which my Mexican friends turned to me 46 years ago as soon as we had crossed the border with the United States – “You are in Mexico now,” and I could feel it. Today we are gathered amidst an exhilarating blend of past and present manifestations of Mexican life. This Palacio Nacional, and the Zocaló on which it is located, resonate with a colonial past but interwoven below and between these buildings are reminders of Mexico’s rich lineage of earlier civilisations such as that represented in the Aztec Templo Mayor, just a few short metres away from where we are gathered. This extraordinary heritage which you protect so carefully, and in an exemplary fashion, provides Mexico with a rich complexity to its identity. The respect for the diverse legacy of this heritage provides a depth that adds real value to contemporary society in Mexico. A culture respected at home becomes all the more valuable and attractive for those who will visit. Later this week, I look forward to delivering an address at the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores. A theme running through my address will be that of the importance we in Ireland attach to the strong Irish thread that is woven through the rich tapestry of Mexican history and culture. I hope to recall some of the many Irish people who came to Mexico and settled here, and who brought their own values and stories to these shores. I may recall, for example, the narratives of those early Irish settlers such as Guillén Lambardo or William Lamport, born in Ireland and known as the ‘precursor of Mexican independence’ who, in the seventeenth century, championed the then radical ideas of racial equality, representative government and national independence. I will also make reference to figures such as Juan O’Donojú, the last Viceroy of Nueva España, 9

the man who accepted the independence of Mexico in 1821, and as a result risked not only the end of a distinguished career but even his own life. Particularly well-known in Mexico is John Riley and the Batallón de San Patricio that he led. The gallantry and sacrifice of ‘los San Patricios’ who chose to join the Mexican cause and gave their lives for their adopted ‘Patria’ in the war of 1846-1848 is widely recognised in Mexico. The San Patricios are honoured on the Wall of Honour in the Mexican Cámera de Diputados where they are described as ‘Defensores de la Patria’; and we in Ireland are moved when it is pointed out to us that they are the only non-Mexicans to be so honoured. Sr. Presidente, Ladies and Gentlemen, The peoples of Mexico and Ireland, our respective pueblos share a natural affinity with each other. We also share a deep appreciation of our respective diasporas, and of the rich contribution that those diasporas have made, continue to make and will make, to developments in the homeland, as well as in their adopted homes. I very much welcome the presence here today of representatives of our Irish community in Mexico, and I would like to thank them for their contribution to the positive bilateral relations between our two countries. An important aspect of these warm relations between our peoples and their governments is, of course, trade and business and I am delighted that Mexico is one of Ireland’s top twenty commercial partners in the world. At the heart of successful and sustained trading relations are, of course, people to people connections. I am very encouraged that some of Ireland’s most innovative and dynamic enterprises have invested in Mexico. Many of them are represented here with their key Mexican partners and I am very pleased that what we are witnessing today is the deepening of partnerships – partnerships which will contribute to economic prosperity, job creation and academic and scientific collaborations between our two countries.

President Michael D. Higgins with President Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City. 10

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ireland has recently, as you know, been dealing with the impact of a painful recession. We are working hard to rebalance our national economy and to return to a path of sustainable and inclusive growth. We are now, I am happy to say, emerging slowly – but I hope in a sustainable fashion – from our difficulties and we have returned to real, if as yet modest, growth. Our recovery is supported by factors such as our continued attractiveness as a location for investment, not least due to the highly educated quality of our labour force, and our growth continues to be driven by our robust export performance. Tomorrow, I will be travelling to the Cumbre de Negocios in Guadalajara and will have the honour to be the first serving European Head of State or Government to address that prestigious forum. I hope that my presence there will encourage even more Mexican and Irish businesses to consider greater trade and investment partnerships. Ireland is a dynamic, innovative, open market and is a gateway to a European Common Market of almost 500 million people. I will emphasise at the Cumbre also the continued importance of the wider Europe-Mexico relationship. As an open economy, Ireland’s future is dependent on its connections to our global partners. We are determined to ensure that a sustainable model of development will be based on what we do best: nurturing talented people, creating valuable goods and services, innovating and connecting to key players internationally. Mexico is a key partner for us and we look forward to Irish and Mexican businesses and universities expanding their relationships in the years ahead. The vision for Mexico which under your leadership, Sr. Presidente, is so impressively outlined in the Pacto por Mexico represents an exciting template of opportunity for further cooperation between our two countries. As countries that both understand and value the role of education in development, I believe that cooperation between our respective third level institutions, both at a national and inter-institutional level, offers a particularly rich seam of promise and possibility. I am therefore very encouraged that representatives of five third level institutions in Ireland have accompanied me on this visit to Mexico. You will find them keen to build on the successes they have already encountered in their connections with Latin America, its people and their institutions. Sr. Presidente, At a diplomatic level I am delighted to note that in 2015 we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of official relations between Mexico and Ireland. I am very proud to represent a country and a people that has had positive bonds with Mexico over centuries, and that now looks forward to building deeper links with your country, across a range of interests. Mexico and Ireland share so many common values. We are strong like-minded partners who work well together in global multilateral fora on areas of common interest and concern – such as sustainable development, non-proliferation and disarmament, human rights and the fight against hunger, undernutrition and climate change. Nuestras estrechas relaciones bilaterales también han promovido y enriquecido nuestros intercambios culturales en literatura y artes visuales entre artistas mexicanos e irlandeses, tales como las colaboraciones 11

entre Octavio Paz y Samuel Beckett, o entre Pura López-Colomé y Séamus Heaney. [Our close bilateral relationship has also fostered and nurtured rich cultural exchanges in literature and the visual arts between Mexican and Irish artists, collaborations such as those between Octavio Paz and Samuel Beckett or, more recently, between Pura López-Colomé and Séamus Heaney.] Today, the President and I discussed the considerable opportunities for cooperation that clearly exist between our two countries. The collaboration between our governments, between our respective pueblos and between the representatives of Mexican and Irish businesses and universities gathered here today constitutes a vital partnership that is building on the solid foundations of a mutual understanding and empathy. This affinity is rooted in a history which is shared between friends, a history which is embodied in the inspiring memory of the Batallón de San Patricio and other Mexican and Irish women and men who have led the way. Sr. Presidente, Sra. Angélica Rivera de Peña Les agradezco nuevamente la cordial bienvenida que ustedes nos han brindado, a mí, a mi esposa Sabina y a nuestra delegación. Espero que podamos recibirles en Irlanda dentro de poco. [Thank you again for the warm welcome that you have extended to me, my wife Sabina and our delegation. We look forward to receiving you in Ireland in the near future.] Quiero proponer un brindis Por el Presidente y por el Pueblo de México ¡Viva México! ¡Viva Irlanda!


Irish Community Reception

Remarks by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

Hotel Intercontinental, Mexico Monday, 21st October, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, Minister Costello, Ambassador Hyland and Patrick Scott, Ambassador García de Alba, Honorary Consul Leeman, Distinguidos Invitados, A cháirde Gael agus cáirde na hÉireann, Go raibh míle maith agaibh as an bhfáilte chaoin, chroíul a chur sibh rómham fhéin agus roimh mo bhean chéile Sabina. I am truly delighted to be here this evening in this great and historic city of Mexico, and to have this opportunity, as President of Ireland, to meet so many representatives of the Irish community and so many friends of Ireland in Mexico. Muchas gracias a todos ustedes por su presencia aquí esta noche. Gracias por la cálida bienvenida que nos han brindado a mi esposa Sabina y a mí. [Many thanks to all of you for your presence here this evening and for the warm welcome that you have given my wife Sabina and I.] En primer lugar, una cosa muy importante: I would like to express my deep regret on behalf of the Irish people for the great loss of life and damage which has been caused by Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid and to wish all those working in the recovery effort every best wish for their endeavours. I know that many of you have travelled some distance to be here this evening, from as far away as Oaxaca, Chiapas, Coahuila, Jalisco, Queretero, Tamaulipas, Morelos, Guanajuato and Quintana Roo. I welcome what these journeys and commitments signify – that Mexico continues to offer widespread possibilities and opportunities to Irish people, and that Irish people, in turn, are keen and happy to contribute to Mexico in so many different ways. So thank you all for taking the time to join us here this evening. I would also like to thank our Honorary Consul in Cancun, Anthony Leeman, for all his invaluable and tireless assistance to our Irish community and visitors to Cancun over the years.

President Michael D. Higgins at a wreath laying ceremony at the Altar of the Nation and Monument to Ninos Heros in Mexico City. 14

This is not my first visit to Mexico. I came here for the first time in the spring of 1967 when I was a postgraduate student at Indiana University. As some of my fellow students were heading on Spring break for Fort Lauderdale, I was brought to this country by Mexican friends Roberto Barnstone and Ricardo de Anda. Thus began my connection to a world that has remained close to my heart over the years. I am touched that Roberto’s wife, Anne Bauer and his sons Mateo and Anatole have travelled all the way from Texas to be here with us tonight. Thank you Anne for the unforgettable introduction that you and Roberto gave me to Mexican culture and hospitality. I have never forgotten it and the memory has accompanied me throughout forty-six fascinating and rewarding years. To have the opportunity now to return to Mexico as President of Ireland moves me greatly. Whether in 1967 – or now again in 2013 – I have been struck by Mexico’s warmth and vibrancy, the intensity of its welcome, and the immense richness of its culture. Indeed, it has many cultures - pre-Columbian, colonial, classical and modern cultures – no one of which can on their own explain contemporary Mexico. All of these sources are vital and impressive in their mythic, spiritual, theological, social and even military influences, as the scholarship of Octavio Paz has made us aware of. Since we arrived, Sabina and I have had the wonderful opportunity to get a taste of this fascinating story of cultural mingling. The Irish, like the Mexicans, are a migratory people, informed by the experience of exile, migration – both chosen and enforced. They are accustomed to finding themselves in distant lands. People from Ireland and of Irish descent have long come to the Americas, either fleeing from hardship and persecution at home, or simply imbued with a spirit of adventure and eager to explore new worlds and seek a new life elsewhere. Many Irish came to this country during colonial times, having first established roots or perhaps gained position in the Spanish royal service. Sometimes their efforts were emancipatory – while perhaps not often

President Michael D. Higgins at a wreath laying ceremony at the Altar of the Nation and Monument to Ninos Heros in Mexico City. 15

enough – and on occasion some distinguished themselves on the wrong side of the struggle against empire. Others came later, attracted by Mexico’s fight for independence and revolutionary ethos. Others, still, came to paint, design and write, finding in Mexico that vivid cultural life which nurtured so many of the world’s great creative talents: Diego Rivera, Frieda Kahlo, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes; any country could be proud to claim even one of these great artists. Irish people too have left their mark President Michael D. Higgins with President Enrique Peña Nieto, President of on this rich tapestry of Mexican Mexico at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City. history and culture, and at an even earlier stage than is usually acknowledged. Many are aware of the adventurous story of Wexford-born Guillém de Lamport who was the author of the first declaration of independence in what were then the Spanish Indies. Some even speculate that Lamport was the original model for the legend of “El Zorro”. But there is a further, perhaps tenuous, but undoubtedly interesting Irish-Mexican legend which relates to St Brendan the Navigator of Clonfert in Galway, who left Ireland sometime in the mid-sixth century and set sail west across the Atlantic ocean to find ‘the isles of the blessed.’ There are many who believe the Brendan story actually reflects early exploration of the North American coast by Europeans – and more specifically Irish people. But who knows whether the Toltec legend of an old man with fair skin and blonde beard who brought teaching in new ways of cultivating the land and working metal to ancient Mexico may not be another echo down through the years of this venerable Irish legend? What is not mythical is the strong Irish thread which runs through Mexican history and culture. This bond is expressed most strongly in the story of the Batallón de San Patricio, whose sacrifice continues to be celebrated today in San Ángel and Coyoacán, in Monterrey and in Saltillo, and also in the Irish town of Clifden, in my home county of Galway, where the battalion’s leader, John Riley, was born. I was greatly moved to have the opportunity yesterday afternoon, in the company of Secretario Meade, to pay tribute personally to the memory and heroism of the San Patricios. The appeal by the Mexican Government to the Irish who were serving in the US army invoked Daniel O’Connell and a shared religious belief. The story of these brave men still resonates strongly with us today, forming an essential element in the rich tapestry of people, culture and history which joins us. The gallant Battalion is also commemorated by the Banda de Gaitas del Batallón de San Patricio [the St Patrick’s Battalion Pipe Band] who have entertained us here this evening. I would like to thank them very much for their contribution to celebrating the link between our two countries. Other names who have played their part in this powerful mix include one of Mexico’s most famous architects, Juan O’Gorman, who has left such a memorable built legacy to this great city of Mexico; the late artists, Phil 16

Kelly and Leonora Carrington, whose remarkable work is being rediscovered by Irish audiences through the exhibition currently being hosted at the Irish Museum of Modern Art; as well as the remarkable literary collaborations between Nobel laureates Octavio Paz and Samuel Beckett, and the more contemporary poetic creativity shared by Séamus Heaney and Pura López-Colomé. Artist Brian Maguire also is continuing this collaborative tradition with his powerful work currently on display here in Mexico City – a work that examines contemporary lives, including those of women and families in Juarez and elsewhere. Tonight I am happy to have this opportunity to meet and pay tribute to our modern Irish diaspora in Mexico. In a year when, through the Gathering, we in Ireland are marking in a special way our connections to our diaspora, I am delighted to take part in this gathering here this evening, of the Irish community and the friends of Ireland in Mexico. I know that some of our long established Irish-Mexican community here this evening came to Mexico, in the spirit of St Brendan, as part of that admirable Irish missionary tradition of supporting the needy and empowering the vulnerable, and I want to pay tribute here to your contribution to the communities which you continue to serve today. Others have come more recently and are pursuing the economic opportunities offered by modern Mexico, investing in partnerships and founding companies, providing employment and developing the skills and technologies which are needed in today’s world. I am also delighted to see the development of links between our university sectors and very pleased that so many of Ireland’s higher education institutions have accompanied me on this visit and are furthering their cooperation with third level institutions here in Mexico. I know that others amongst you have been drawn to Mexico because of your connections of a more personal nature with Mexican partners. While you are in a sense far from your homeland, you have created another home here, where you have been embraced by your Mexican family; an experience, I am told, that is not unlike the embrace of an Irish family – marked by conviviality, inter-generational gatherings and a celebration of the importance of music, dance and song. Whether in delivering peace in Northern Ireland, helping to maintain peace in conflict zones, supporting the poorest of the poor, spurring economic development, raising awareness of our culture or creating a positive name for Ireland in their adopted homes, we are fortunate to possess an Irish diaspora network of such breadth and depth; one that creates such a sense of generous Irishness and makes a contribution with integrity, competence and compassion. Globalisation and communications technology have changed, in a significant way, the nature of the debate surrounding diaspora engagement. I am delighted that the narrative has evolved from what it was in the past, when those who left were lost. Our people abroad are no longer considered a lost generation. International discussion today revolves around building mutually beneficial partnerships with these communities, of a diverse kind and in global settings.

President Michael D. Higgins with President Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City. 17

Irish people pertaining of this new diaspora are creating partnerships which address their needs in the new homes, but they are also offering their experience and goodwill in support of economic and cultural agendas in their spiritual homes. For that we are grateful, and future generations will also be the beneficiaries. This morning I had meetings with President Peña Nieto, and, with Minister Costello, we witnessed the signature of many new contracts and agreements between Irish and Mexican companies, and Irish and Mexican Higher Education Institutes, marking a new step forward in the development of Ireland and Mexico’s relationship as we move forward together in the twenty-first century. Already over 1,600 Mexican students are studying in Ireland, every one of them a precious link in the connections between us. I look forward very much to this number growing, and also to encouraging more Irish students to discover how much Mexico has to offer them. El Presidente Peña Nieto y yo comentamos particularmente la oportunidad que se presenta con la conmemoración del 40° [Cuadragésimo] Aniversario de las Relaciones Diplomáticas entre México e Irlanda en el año 2015 para profundizar nuestros lazos culturales, académicos y económicos. Sé que tanto nuestra Embajada aquí en México como la Embajada de México en Dublín estarán trabajando con muchos de ustedes en el desarrollo de un programa para 2015 que celebre y fortalezca la diversidad y la vitalidad de nuestra relación. [President Peña Nieto and I noted in particular the opportunity provided by the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mexico and Ireland in 2015 to further deepen our cultural, academic and economic ties. I know that both our embassy here in Mexico City and the Mexican embassy in Dublin will be working with many of you here tonight to develop a programme for 2015 that celebrates and strengthens the diversity and the vibrancy of the relationship.]

President Michael D. Higgins with President Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City 18

Distinguished guests, Friends of Ireland and of Mexico Ireland has experienced difficult times in recent years. As many of you know, the cost of the banking collapse has been borne largely by our citizens, who have experienced great personal hardship. Yet we have also found great strength in adversity and recovery is now, finally, in sight. This has been made possible through determination, solidarity, creativity and hard work. It has also been made possible through our continued outward looking and internationalist policies, as we seek, through cooperation with our friends and partner countries abroad, and with our diaspora, to build key relationships and networks. These will serve us well in the future as we continue to rebuild our economy on the basis of the real values of work and innovation, and driven forward by our creative, dynamic and welleducated people. I look forward to a continued development and deepening of Ireland’s relationship with Mexico, to which those present this evening have personally contributed so much, and I salute our two great countries, the strong bonds that we have in common, and our shared future. ¡Viva México! ¡Viva Irlanda! Thank you, Muchísimas Gracias


Enterprise Ireland Business Breakfast

Remarks by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

Hotel Presidente Intercontinental, Mexico City Tuesday, 22nd October 2013

Estimado Secretario Guajuardo, Estimado Sub Secretario de Rosensweig, Excelencias, Señoras y Señores, Les agradezco su presencia esta mañana. Es un gran honor para mí tener la oportunidad de visitar este país tan dinámico y vibrante como Presidente de Irlanda. [Thank you for joining us here this morning. It is a great honour for me to have the opportunity, as President of Ireland, to visit this vibrant and dynamic country.] Como mencionó el Ministro Costello, es un placer dar la bienvenida esta mañana a los representantes de las empresas irlandesas, pero en particular a nuestros invitados mexicanos. [As Minister Costello has said, we are delighted to welcome this morning representatives of Irish companies, but in particular to welcome our Mexican guests.] Es un honor para nosotros contar con la presencia del Secretario Guajardo y el Sub Secretario de Rosensweig. Valoro enormemente su participación y el duro trabajo que la Secretaría de Economía y la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores llevan a cabo para profundizar el desarrollo de la relación entre México e Irlanda a todos los niveles. [We are honoured to have Secretario Guajardo and Sub Secretario de Rosensweig with us here today. I am very appreciative of the engagement, the hard work, of the Secretaría de Economía and the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores in deepening the development of the relationship between Mexico and Ireland at every level.] Those of us in the Irish delegation wish also to extend our appreciation to the representatives here this morning from ProMexico and COMCE, and we welcome members from the Irish European Chamber of Commerce. These partners have been stalwart supporters of Ireland over many years and have worked unstintingly to encourage, develop and expand the economic, scientific and academic links between Ireland and Mexico. It was in the Spring of 1967 that I first encountered the charm and cultural richness of this country. So many years later, in the brief time I spent in Mexico since our arrival on Saturday, I have been struck by the pace of the city and its people. The indelible impression is of a city – and a country – on the move: fast, agile, flexible and full of opportunity. Mexico is, of course, a country of extraordinary diversity, a rich heritage from ancient civilisations and also full of the manifestations of the complexity that marked its later history. I had the pleasure of spending some time, on Sunday, in your magnificent Museum of Anthropology. Not a kilometre away from where we are sitting now, are the meticulously preserved, and beautifully presented, remnants of the extraordinary pre-Colombian civilisations that flourished in this part of the American continent for centuries. Before moving on to twenty-first century considerations, allow me to commend this country for the priority that it gives to protecting its rich heritage. As a former Minister for Culture, I can attest that your international reputation for care of your national heritage is one that you can rightly be proud of. I also have no doubt that your appreciation of the rich diversity of your past adds depth and value to your contemporary society.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Ireland and Mexico are linked by many bonds – of history, of culture, of business and of education. However, I am convinced that both countries have much more to offer each other. We are far from having exhausted the possibility of our contemporary connections and my visit is just one further step towards realising them. We are pleased that Ireland has a foothold in this important and vibrant market of Mexico. But we can do more. Significant opportunities remain for Irish businesses in Mexico. We also believe that there is unexplored potential in Ireland for Mexican businesses. I very much hope that more Irish and Mexican companies take up the reciprocal opportunities that exist to achieve mutual benefit for both countries. Yesterday at the Palacio Nacional, President Peña Nieto and I spoke at some length during our bilateral discussions about how we can further boost trade and investment between Ireland and Mexico. Both governments are fully committed to making this dimension of our relationship an even greater priority. Later this morning, I will travel to the Cumbre de Negocios in Guadalajara, where I will have the honour of being the first serving European Head of State or Government to address that prestigious forum. My message to the business, government and academic leaders from across Latin America who will be in attendance will be that Mexico is a valuable and valued partner for Ireland, and that Ireland should also be a valued partner of choice for Mexican business. Some of Ireland’s most innovative and dynamic companies have already invested in Mexico. In sectors from agri-business to engineering to manufacturing to education to aviation, Irish companies are helping to build Mexico’s economy and create high quality jobs for its citizens. Many representatives of those businesses are here with us today, and I want to recognise your contribution to this country, as well as to your homeland of Ireland. We are proud of your achievements and hope that you will act as mentors to the many new Irish businesses that I hope to hear of entering the Mexican market. Ladies and Gentlemen As many of you here know, Ireland has gone through a significant economic and social upheaval over the last few years. The global financial crisis of 2008, together with the collapse of our domestic banking sector, the fruit of both a credit lending and property boom, led our country into a long and painful recession. We are working hard to rebalance our national economy and to return to a path of sustainable and inclusive growth. The encouraging news is that we are emerging from our difficulties and have returned to real, although still modest growth. Recent predictions thus suggest GDP growth of 1.8% in 2014 as against 0.2% this year. As an open economy, we know that our future lies in a sustainable model of economy built on nurturing talented people, creating valuable goods and services, innovating and connecting to global partners, customers and investors in durable ways. While the economic shocks have affected us deeply, our recovery is underpinned by the resilient, creative and hardworking nature of our people. Our recovery is also supported by our young, highly educated population who, in their age cohort, constitute the largest proportion of third level graduates across the entire European Union. We are convinced that, through the pursuit of excellence in education and business, we can continue to provide sustainable jobs, significantly reduce unemployment and achieve prosperity for our people. The export sector in Ireland, and particularly the services export sector, is a key driver of our economic recovery. We are proud that the value of our exports last year exceeded the peaks reached before the economic crisis. 22

Irish exports to Mexico increased by 24% in 2012 and have continued to perform well above most of our other markets throughout 2013. On a global level and in terms of value, Ireland exports slightly more in services than we do in goods. Nevertheless, our trade in services with Mexico last year was less than 10% of our merchandise trade. There is clearly scope for more of our exports – and our expertise – to engage with Mexican markets and business partners. We want to support Irish companies in further growing their partnerships in Mexico and to encourage more companies to explore the Mexican market. Ireland has become a world leader in financial and ICT services, in agribusiness, and in biotech and life sciences: there are enormous opportunities for Mexican and Irish companies to collaborate more in each of these sectors. Throughout the global economic upheaval of recent years, Ireland has continued to offer a very attractive base for international companies doing business in Europe. Last year, international companies in Ireland created more net new jobs than they had in a decade. More than 1,000 global companies have chosen Ireland as their European Headquarters, including household names such as eBay, Intel and Facebook. In the first half of this year alone, 70 leading international companies established or expanded their operations in Ireland. Today Ireland is home to: •

9 of the world’s top 10 global pharmaceutical companies;

over 50% of the world’s leading financial services firms;

and 10 of the top “Born on the Internet” companies.

These companies continue to find what they need in Ireland – that is talented, educated and innovative people, an English-speaking country that is a member of the Eurozone, and a clear, transparent and efficient regulatory environment. In turn, the presence of so many international companies in Ireland, notably in the ICT and life sciences sectors, has stimulated the growth of clusters of innovative, entrepreneurial small and medium Irish companies, thereby fostering mutually beneficial exchanges of ideas and technologies. Companies such as Twitter, Pfizer, Yahoo and Huawei all increased their existing operations in Ireland over the last 9 months including, crucially, through investment in significant new Research and Development activities. Research, creativity and innovation are particular strengths of ours. While our Nobel laureates for literature – Yeats, Shaw, Beckett and Heaney – are very well known, we also have a track-record of scientific innovations. I am pleased to say that this found a further contemporary expression in recent weeks, with the launch by Intel of its latest micro chip. This chip, which was developed entirely in Ireland, will be sold across the world with each product bearing the trademark “designed in Ireland.” Ireland looks forward to sharing this creativity and knowledge through the companies and educational institutions represented here this morning. We also want to build on the already very strong academic partnerships between Mexico and Ireland. I have been hugely encouraged to watch the fast growing links between Mexican and Irish universities over the last few years. Five of our most respected universities are accompanying me on my visit to Mexico and are working with Mexican third level partners in areas from nano-technology to sustainable water management to business administration to electronic engineering. There is room for many more partnerships of this sort and I know that this will be a particular focus of the work of Enterprise Ireland and our embassy here in Mexico over the coming months. 23

We would like to see more Mexican companies join the US, European and Asian companies that have invested in Ireland and have, as a result, seen their operations throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa thrive. We suggest that Mexico look towards Ireland. A forthcoming opportunity that may be of interest to some of you here will be a seminar that the Lord Mayor of Dublin will host next year focused on Mexican businesses interested in exploring opportunities in Ireland. Ireland’s embassy in Mexico, or the Mexican embassy in Dublin, will, I know, be happy to put interested Mexican companies in touch with the organisers of this seminar. Ladies and Gentlemen, El domingo pasado, tuve el honor de asistir a la Plaza de San Jacinto para rendir tributo a la memoria del Batallón de San Patricio, que combatió y murió en la guerra de 1846 a 1848. Muchos de esos hombres vinieron de Irlanda y combatieron en las filas mexicanas del conflicto porque sentían una afinidad especial con este país y su pueblo. Como ex Ministro de Cultura, también me enorgullecen los lazos culturales entre nuestros países, incluyendo los vínculos literarios que, de diferentes formas, conectaron a nuestros premios nobel Samuel Beckett, Octavio Paz y Séamus Heaney. [Last Sunday, I had the honour of standing in the Plaza de San Jacinto and paying tribute to the memory of the Batallón de San Patricio who fought and died in the war of 1846-48. Many of these men who came from Ireland fought on the Mexican side of that conflict because they felt a special affinity with this country and its people. As a former Minister of Culture, I am also very proud of the cultural links between our two countries, including the literary links that in different ways connected our Nobel laureates – Samuel Beckett, Octavio Paz and Séamus Heaney] No menos orgulloso estoy de las alianzas que se están desarrollando entre nuestros países en las áreas de negocios y educación. Espero que mi visita a México no solo haya facilitado el fortalecimiento de esos vínculos existentes entre las empresas e instituciones educativas irlandesas y sus socios mexicanos, sino que también haya abierto puertas a nuevas alianzas, relaciones e ideas. [I am equally proud of the partnerships that are developing between our two countries in areas of business and education. I very much hope that my visit to Mexico will not only have facilitated the strengthening of existing links between Irish businesses and educational institutions, and their Mexican partners, but also opened paths for new partnerships, new relationships and new ideas.] Estoy convencido de que hay grandes oportunidades para un mayor compromiso, seguimiento y construcción de un vínculo aún más dinámico y creativo. Espero que las relaciones prosperen aún más en los años por venir. [I am convinced that there are significant opportunities for increased engagement, for follow up and for the crafting of an ever more dynamic and creative relationship. I look forward to flourishing relations in the years ahead.] Viva Irlanda! Viva México! Vivan las relaciones entre nuestros pueblos. Muchas gracias.


Ireland and Mexico: Partners in Opening Gateways to Real and Sustainable Growth for the Twenty-First Century

Address by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

Cumbre de Negocios, Guadalajara, Mexico Tuesday, 22nd October, 2013

Distinguido Ministro, Distinguido Gobernador del Estado de Jalisco, Distinguido Licenciado Miguel Aleman Velasco, Distinguido Alcalde de Guadalajara, Distinguidos Diputados, Senadores y Embajadores, Estimados amigos de la comunidad empresarial irlandesa en Guadalajara, Señoras y Señores, Es un gran placer para mí presentarme en este prestigioso encuentro y tener la oportunidad de brindar mi aporte a sus debates y reflexiones. Con gran sorpresa me enteré de que soy el primer Jefe de Estado o Gobierno europeo en funciones que se ha dirigido a la Cumbre de Negocios en sus once años de existencia. A través de los años, la Cumbre ha escuchado las palabras de distinguidos líderes de todo el continente americano. Me complace poder ser una pequeña pieza de la historia y seguir el camino trazado por muchos de mis colegas de este lado del Atlántico frente a este importante foro. [I am delighted to be here with you for this prestigious gathering and to have the opportunity today to contribute to your discussions and reflections. It was with some surprise that I learnt that I am the first serving European Head of State or Government ever to address the Cumbre de Negocios in its eleven years of existence. The Cumbre has been honoured over the years to hear from distinguished leaders from across the continent of the Americas; I am very glad to be able to make a small piece of history by following the path of many of my colleagues from this side of the Atlantic in addressing this important forum.] I should say at the outset that I come to this conversation with a strong sense that Ireland and the world have much to learn from Mexico and from other countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Last year I had the opportunity for reflection on this theme when I addressed the EU-CEPAL High Level Seminar on Investment for Sustainable Development in Santiago de Chile. On that occasion I offered a consideration of the economic crisis; of what, in dealing with it, had worked and not worked; of the variety of possible responses to this crisis; and of the emergence of a new thinking on the connections between society, the economy, economic policy and economic theory. I stressed the value of the originality I saw in the younger Latin American economists’ writing on achieving growth that delivered both sustainability and poverty reduction. In particular, I reflected on how the Latin American and Caribbean region had continued to develop and progress in the face of the global economic and financial crisis, and what we, not only in Ireland, but as a European Union could learn from countries, like Mexico, who were continuing to register positive economic growth and, at the same time, prioritizing social inclusion and increased well-being for their people, ending the misery of extreme poverty for many, and enabling many more to participate in the economy through employment creation. The global financial crisis has disrupted economies, and people’s lives, across the world. It has hastened the realisation in Europe, in the US and elsewhere, that global economic rebalancing, so long foretold, has happened, continues to evolve and that our thinking and critical analysis, our policy formation, also needs to adapt and consider different, alternative models of growth and development. We need to be able, at academic level, to teach in a way that not only allows pluralism of models but gives us policy choices driven by our real economies; policies that protect our citizens from the consequences of reckless speculative movements in economies, that have rightly been labelled ‘fictive’ versions of the economy. Your region, in prioritizing poverty reduction, while at the same time attracting quality investment and 26

sustainable, inclusive development, can be a major contributor to the search for new economic paradigms as we seek the best way to move forward from the failures of the past. Agenda-setting conversations as to what is achievable, necessary and developmental, can no longer play out in small, hermetically-sealed groups of elites from just one or two parts of the world. We need to talk to, and listen to, each other. I know that in Mexico, the Pacto por Mexico opens with the clear statement: ‘México tiene una sociedad plural.’ I would echo – and amplify – this by pointing out that ‘el mundo es una sociedad plural.’ If group-think, premised on the false suggestion of a single inevitable path of growth based on virtual products rather than real economic value was one cause of the financial crisis, worldwide and indeed in Ireland, then this rebalancing – not just of the global economy, but of the wider global conversation – is a welcome and a necessary correction. Señoras y Señores, Ireland has experienced the consequences of economic reversal painfully and directly – flowing simultaneously from the global financial and economic crisis, over which we had little control, and from the destructive fallout from the collapse of a domestic construction and banking bubble. 2013 marks the sixth year of a painful rebalancing of our national economy – a rebalancing that has deeply affected ordinary Irish citizens, families and businesses. We have been burdened with unemployment and debt levels that mean that there is no easy short-term solution to dealing with the legacy of the crisis. But we are emerging from this situation, steadily, with determination, and with a much deeper appreciation of the dynamics of the global economy that we must navigate. We are also resolved not to waste the chastening experience of a recession and to learn the positive lessons for the future. The resilience and creativity of our people have been called upon, and we are determined to build on that creativity, innovation, high level of education, and openness to new models. We will not waste our energies on seeking to relive that which has failed. Invention rather than imitation has been our strength, be it in James Joyce’s Ulysses or in the new micro chip from Intel, in Co. Kildare. Both go out as Irish around the world. As a small country, on the periphery of Europe, our future lies not in returning to the failed economic path of reckless speculation and bubble economics, but to a sustainable model of nurturing talented people, creating valuable goods and services, innovating and connecting to global partners, customers, and investors in enduring ways. It is the difference between pursuing opportunism and embracing opportunity – between the illusion of a virtual economy and the sustainability of a real economy. Ireland has returned to economic stability and to modest growth. We are the country in Europe with the youngest and one of the most highly educated populations. We are outward-looking, and our exports, including those from an expanding indigenous sector, now at record levels – exceeding the peaks they reached before the economic crisis. Our exporters are reaching new markets, well beyond our traditional customers in the UK, Europe and the US. Irish exports to Mexico increased by 24% in 2012 and have continued to perform well above most of our other markets throughout 2013. Our companies, our educational institutions, many of whom are with me here in Mexico, are very anxious to secure new opportunities, new partners, new ideas, new frontiers. I visited Mexico, and indeed Guadalajara, for the first time in the Spring of 1967 when I was a post-graduate student at Indiana University. Where some of my fellow students were heading for Fort Lauderdale, I was brought by Mexican friends Roberto Barnstone and Ricardo de Anda to Mexico.


Mexico represents one of the most important new frontiers for Irish businesses and one of the most welcome grounds for new partners. Here in Guadalajara, we are proud to have a small but vibrant community of Irish business, in sectors ranging from manufacturing to financial services to clean tech to electronics. I know that many of our Guadalajara-based Irish business people are in the audience today. I want to recognise your contribution to creating prosperity and high quality employment in Mexico. We are proud of your achievements and we hope that you will act as mentors to the new Irish businesses entering Mexico in the years ahead. Ireland’s progress in exiting from fiscal and economic crisis is driven by, and will continue to rely heavily on, a dynamic and innovative export sector. But our economic future in Ireland must also be underpinned by our continued ability to attract high quality investment. It pleases us that those who have chosen to locate in Ireland are staying, conducting research and development, and expanding. Seventy internationally renowned companies established or expanded their operations in Ireland in the first half of this year alone. Companies such as Ebay, Twitter, Pfizer, Yahoo and Huawei all grew their existing operations in Ireland over the last nine months, including, crucially, through investment in significant new Research and Development activities. So, I am pleased to report that through a period of unprecedented economic upheaval, Ireland continues to perform very well as a base for international companies doing business in Europe and the wider world. Last year, international companies in Ireland created more net new jobs than they had in ten years. Those companies continue to find what they need in Ireland – talented, educated and innovative people in an English-speaking country in the Eurozone with a clear, transparent and effective regulatory environment. I said earlier that our experience of economic crisis has honed our understanding of the dynamics of the new global economy. We are proud that Ireland remains a leading recipient of investment from the US and Europe. We value enormously our relationship with our traditional partners. But we keenly recognise too that we need to attract new investment from new partners. We want to place, alongside the investment from those US, European and Asian companies, investment by Mexican companies. Ireland offers enormous potential to Mexican companies as a gateway to the European market. We want to work with Mexico in a way that is mutually beneficial, to attract more of your companies to Ireland. Some of Ireland’s most dynamic and innovative companies have already invested in the Mexican market and are steadily growing their presence and their impact. We want this relationship to be reciprocated. For that reason, the City of Dublin will host a two-day seminar in May next year, specifically targeted at increasing Mexican investment in Dublin and Ireland more generally. I know that our Embassy here in Mexico, as well as your Embassy in Dublin, have been working hard on deepening the investment relationship and will in the next few months be following up with many of you present here today to encourage you to explore these opportunities. The investment decision may be an outcome of calculation, but it is also a relationship between individuals and peoples, based on trust, ethics and mutuality. The personal chemistry in all of these areas between Irish people and Mexican people is very good.


Señoras y Señores, I have spoken in some detail about Ireland as a gateway to Europe. Let me take a moment to reflect on the wider European project and the EU-Mexico relationship. Being in this extraordinarily vibrant country, I see how Mexico is simultaneously turning its political, economic and diplomatic face south towards its Latin American partners through its engagement in CELAC and the Pacific Alliance; north towards its powerful and historic partners of the US and Canada; and east across the Pacific towards exciting and fast-growing countries in Asia. However, let us pause for a moment and recall the importance of the European Union as a major partner for Mexico and the Latin American and Caribbean region as a whole. The relationship between Mexico and the European Union is one of shared history and memory that tries to accommodate differing narratives with respect and even forgiveness; the legacy is one of a common language, culture and values, at the heart of which today lies a deep understanding of the global challenges we must all face together, and which we can only overcome if we all work together. I know too that in Mexico in recent years the word ‘Europe’ has in some accounts, particularly certain financial accounts, often been linked with the word ‘crisis’. Many of you gathered here this afternoon have a personal appreciation of the impact of this economic uncertainty. You will also, I feel sure, have an appreciation of the harsh effects of the recession on the lives of many European citizens, the hard economic choices facing their elected representatives and the overall impact of this crisis on the self-confidence and credibility of the European Union. Those of us in Europe who grew up with a vision of Europe, not only as a place beyond war but one that enjoyed a common freedom from insecurity, cannot take the legacy of the achievements of the founders of the European Union for granted. Our Union, in its founding treaties, is based on shared fundamental values – respect for personal dignity; freedom; democracy; equality; the rule of law and respect for human rights. We have before us the task of addressing the challenges that now face us in a way that recreates, for the twenty-

President Michael D. Higgins with Pelé in Guadalajara, Mexico. 29

first century, the vision and idealism of the European Union’s original post-war founders, a European Union of citizens within a global community of citizens. We have the responsibility to ensure that the interests of European citizens – the women and men who are dealing on a daily basis with the fall-out from the crisis – are at the centre of our institutional response; that responsibility also extends to our global community where, in partnership with our Latin American friends, we can seek to solve global challenges together. I spoke earlier of a welcome and necessary rebalancing of the global economy and the wider global policy discourse. Within that process, the European project has much to contribute. The EU remains the greatest and most successful conflict resolution project ever undertaken, as well as the home of half a billion people and some of the most creative companies and higher education institutions in the world. The project of European integration has brought enormous benefits for Ireland, for Europe and for the world. We in Ireland are working with our partners in the European Union to emerge from the severely testing time we have faced and to make changes that will underpin a safer, stronger, stable European financial system, a European economy of real growth which will again create employment for our people and a flourishing European society which promotes the participation of all its citizens. The European Union continues to lead and to build partnerships with those, like Mexico, who share its values, not just in the economic sphere, but with regard to the global issues that confront us all today. As we look to the world post 2015, and seek to grapple with the enormous challenges of climate change, poverty and world hunger, Mexico and the European Union, already strategic partners in so many senses, can, together, achieve great things. I know that discussions are now beginning on a formal upgrading of the Global Agreement between Mexico and the EU. These are vital discussions. We need each other as political, economic and development partners. Mexico and Europe together represent almost 30% of the global economy. Our shared history, shared culture and – vitally – shared values have a weight and an importance beyond economic measure. Europe is rebuilding its economies and societies. Europe – and Ireland – are embracing the opportunity of playing a dynamic and creative role in a transformed global economy. Half the population of Ireland is under 35 years of age. The economy in which our young people are beginning their working life is very different than five years ago, let alone ten. Their individual and communal worlds have been shaped by technology in a way unimaginable to previous generations. Sometimes it seems that technology changes and advances so fast, we barely have time to assess the implications of one development before it is surpassed. But it is not a source of trepidation. It is a vista of opportunity. At present, the Internet economy accounts for roughly 3% of Irish GDP and this is set to double to 6% over the next four years. In terms of jobs, the digital economy has become as big an industry in Ireland as Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing and it is growing about 10 times as fast as the economy as a whole. Our challenge as leaders is to ensure that our rising generation is well placed to meet this opportunity. Yes, with the right technical skills but, even more important, with an academic formation that can direct and deal with change in a creative and ethical way. Mexico and Ireland share this challenge equally. President Peña Nieto, in his State of the Union address last month, emphasized that the job of government is not merely to administer but to transform. This transformation requires the technological applications of science be delivered throughout the entire economy, as a tool of commerce available to enterprises of all types and sizes Currently, less than a quarter of small companies in Ireland are selling online, while 70% of what Irish consumers spend online is currently going out of Ireland. This has to change. We are anxious to provide the widespread application of the crucial skills and the technical tools our workforce will require to find their place in this new digital economy. It is our intention in Ireland to lead Europe in terms of ICT graduates as a percentage of all third level graduates within five years. Our young people are 30

increasingly choosing Science, Technology and Mathematics subjects in university – 21% more in 2012 than the year before. I know that Mexico too is also keenly aware of this challenge and has set the ambitious goal of increasing investment in Science, Technology and Innovation to 1% of GDP by 2018. I have been hugely encouraged to watch the fast growing links between Mexican and Irish Universities over the last few years; five of our most respected Universities are accompanying me on my visit to Mexico and are working with Mexican third level partners in areas from nano-technology to sustainable water management to business administration to electronic engineering. We seek to broaden and accelerate our academic and scientific links with Mexico in every subject. I would like that wonderful fruit of cooperation that characterised the working relationship between Octavio Paz and his fellow Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett to be replicated in every area of our lives together, students, scholars and scientists. I am delighted to say that this very city in which we gather is ‘digitally twinned’ with our capital city of Dublin. Guadalajara’s project to be a thriving centre for the digital economy in Mexico has much in common with the Digital Hub project launched in Dublin 10 years ago. Our Embassy is working with ProMéxico to see how we can best leverage this relationship to intensify cooperation in the digital and creative industries in particular. We are learning from each other. And it is from conversations like these that we can move from conceptions of the digital revolution as some modern gold-rush of competitive opportunism, to understanding it as the basis for a sustainable, interconnected and thriving future. The implication of this is that we must be prepared to meet this opportunity with even more fundamental skills and aptitudes – for critical thinking, for creativity, for context. In a rush of change and information, those core abilities of reasoning, discernment and imagination become more important, not less. This is also why it is so important for our society that our efforts to adapt to this new on-line world involves all of us and not just the young or the affluent. Research suggests that within a few years, only 1 job in 10 in Europe will not entail any digital skills. This, therefore, is not a sectoral issue, not an elite issue, not a narrow interest. It is an issue for our whole economy and our whole society. We cannot afford to respond to digital capacity by opening up new fissures of inequality at any level. Our adaptation to the digital economy must be inclusive. The internet, and the democratisation of information that it brings, can be a revolutionary tool to promote transparency, fairness, accountability and active citizenship. If I can once again draw from the Pacto por México, I believe that the digital revolution can be a tool for achieving what the Pacto describes as “la democratización de la economía y la política …. y la ampliación y aplicación eficaz de los derechos sociales’” – the democratisation of the economy and politics and the broadening and effective application of social rights. We must be about the creation of a new modernity – an ethical modernity; in creating this we must not see it as an automatic gift from the past. As Octavio Paz put it in his 1978 reflection in The Labyrinth of Solitude: “I do not preach return to the past, imaginary as are all pasts, nor do I advocate that we go back into the clutches of a tradition that was strangling us. I believe that Mexico, like the other LatinAmerican countries, must find her own modernity. In a certain sense she must invent it. But she must start with the ways of living and dying, acquiring and spending, working and playing that our people has created. It is a task that demands not only favourable historic and social circumstances but an extraordinary imagination. The rebirth of imagination, in the realm of art as in that of politics, has always been prepared for and preceded by analysis and criticism. I believe that this duty has fallen to our generation and the next. But before undertaking the criticism of our societies, their history and their actuality, we Hispanic American writers must begin by criticising ourselves. First, we must cure ourselves of the intoxication of simplistic and simplifying ideologies.” 31

México e Irlanda se enorgullecen de sus herencias. Comparten legados culturales, intelectuales y artísticos que poseen la capacidad de enriquecer nuestros futuros y la condición humana en todo el mundo. Nuestras culturas tan distintivas no son impedimentos de los que nos tengamos de deshacer en la carrera por la homogeneidad digital, son ventajas de la composición de un tapiz compartido hecho de hilos y colores diversos, formados con nuestras habilidades en común. Están en el corazón de lo que tenemos para ofrecer al mundo. Definen nuestra voz, nuestras ideas y, utilizando una frase ubicua de hoy en día, nuestro “contenido”. En Irlanda, como en México, nos enorgullecen los logros imaginativos de nuestra gente. Y mientras puede ser un poco desconcertante imaginar a W. B. Yeats o a Carlos Fuentes tuiteando, no hay dudas de que veremos a los nuevos y talentosos hijos e hijas de México e Irlanda expresar sus dotes de manera entrelazada con las capacidades instrumentales del mundo digital. [Mexico and Ireland have proud heritages. They share cultural, intellectual, artistic legacies that have the capacity to enrich our futures and the human condition worldwide. Our distinctive cultures are not handicaps to be shed in the race for any digital homogeneity; they are assets in the composition of a shared tapestry of diverse threads and colours made with shared skills. They are the heart of what we have to offer the world. They define our voice, our ideas and – to borrow a ubiquitous phrase of today – our ‘content’. In Ireland, as in Mexico, we take great pride in the imaginative achievements of our people. And while it may be a little disconcerting to imagine W.B. Yeats or Carlos Fuentes tweeting, there is no doubt we will see the new gifted sons and daughters of Mexico and Ireland expressing their talent in ways interwoven with the instrumental capacities of the digital world.] Séamus Heaney was the fourth Irishman to win a Nobel prize for literature. He died just a few months ago and is sadly missed, not just in Ireland, but around the world. In his first collection of poems, published in 1966, he wrote of being in his room writing, while listening to his father, a farmer, digging outside, as his grandfather had before him, and of taking on a responsibility. He concluded: “But I’ve no spade to follow men like them. Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.” Who knows how many of this generation have already been thinking of their parents and the pens they wrote with, and contrasting this with the smartphone or tablet in their hands. Looking at that smartphone and deciding - ‘I’ll create with it’or ‘With it I will encounter the marvellous’. And whether they create new businesses, new works of art, new medicines or new technologies, let us give as many of them as possible the opportunity to remake our world, bring humanity some steps forward to the realisation of our shared possibilities; and to do so with grace and humour too. Gracias


Distinguished Guest Ceremony

Remarks by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

City Hall, Mexico City Wednesday, 23rd October, 2013

Sr. Jefe de Gobierno del Distrito Federal, Dr. Miguel Angel Mancera, Sr. Presidente del Tribunal Superior de Justicia del Distrito Federal, Magistrado Dr. Edgar Elías Azar, Sr. Presidente de la Comisión de Gobierno de la Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal, Diputado Manual Granados Covarrubias, Deseo expresarles mi profundo agradecimiento por el gran honor que me han concedido al declararme Huésped Distinguido de la Ciudad de México así como por entregarme las Llaves, Medalla y Pergamino de la Ciudad. [Thank you very much for the great honour which you have bestowed upon me in declaring me a Distinguished Guest of Mexico City, and in presenting to me the Keys, Medal and Parchment of this City.] Permítanme agradecerles de corazón la cálida bienvenida a su magnífica ciudad que recibimos mi esposa Sabina y yo. [May I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the warm welcome to your magnificent City that you have extended to my wife Sabina and me.] Mexico City is truly an extraordinary place. From the most ancient times, across civilizations and cultures, it has been recognized as a place of wonder and marvel. This is reflected in the awe expressed by the famous chronicler of the Cortés era, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, on his arrival at the great Aztec city of Tenochtitlán. He wrote: “We were astounded...Indeed, some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream...It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before.”

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, Mayor of Mexico City and President Michael D. Higgins at a presentation of the Keys to the City declaring President Higgins a distinguished Guest of Mexico City. 34

It was more than forty-five years ago that I first visited Mexico City – and I still recall the awe I felt then, when confronted with the vibrancy and cultural richness of this City. I passed through Mexico on a number of occasions over the subsequent years, but always too rapidly. Therefore it is a joy to return here as President of Ireland, and be given the time to again be filled with wonder and admiration. Sr. Jefe de Gobierno del Distrito Federal, I have had the honour to serve my own city of Galway as Mayor and so I appreciate the value of your distinction in quite a personal way. I will always treasure the importance of receiving this distinction today from Mexico City. Though Irish and Mexican cities differ so vastly in scale, the call, and indeed the duty, to serve our citizens, and to provide them with quality public services and amenities is a duty that all Municipalities share. In the stairwell of this beautiful City Hall there is a plaque that bears the exhortation: “Gobernar a la Ciudad es Servirla” [To Govern the City is to Serve the City] With this as your guiding principle, I know that you have set an ambitious agenda for this City, aimed at improving the quality of life and services for your citizens. Key public services so important for your citizens’ welfare, such as health, education and security feature prominently, of course, on this agenda. You deserve to be commended on your stated ambitions to deliver greater environmental sustainability, as well as investment in technology and innovation. One aspect of the responsibilities of this City’s Government that I find easy to highlight, and to comment upon as a former Minister for Culture, is the protection and celebration of your City’s extraordinarily rich heritage and culture. I also greatly admire the way in which you have made them accessible to the young through educational measures in the school system. The very valuable work that has been done to protect Mexico’s outstanding cultural legacy is recognised on a global level, notably through this City’s inscription in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Equally important is the appreciation it receives from the tens of thousands of visitors who spend time here exploring the treasures of your pre-Colombian, colonial and more modern heritage, as well as your extraordinarily vibrant offering in the contemporary arts. No visitor can be unmoved by the Zócalo, the sheer scale and majesty of its breathtaking architecture. The preservation work carried out on the centro histórico has opened up this area to many more visitors. This beautiful building in which we are gathered, a survivor of fire and earthquakes, is a glowing statement of Mexico’s resilience and a testament to its history and identity. We Irish are proud to have played a role in your City’s history and I am delighted that our contribution is still commemorated. The Angel of Independence – El Ángel de la Independencia – that iconic symbol of the city of Mexico, holds a commemorative plaque to William Lamport who was born in Co. Wexford, in Ireland, in 1615. Though sentenced by the Inquisition for heresy, his real crime in the eyes of his accusers had been to author the first declaration of independence, a remarkable document that called for equality of opportunity for all. We also recall the gallant Irishmen of the Batallón de San Patricio who fought alongside their Mexican 35

comrades in the war of 1846-1848, valiantly defending Mexico City, only being finally defeated at the Battle of Churubusco. Each year, their sacrifice is commemorated at the Museo de las Intervenciones in Coyoacán, the site of the Battle of Churubusco, and at the Plaza San Jacinto in San Ángel, where many of these men were executed. Deseo expresarle a usted y a sus colegas del gobierno de la Ciudad, mi profundo aprecio por el honor que rinden a estos irlandeses, Los San Patricios, por su coraje y el aporte que realizaron a su patria adoptiva. Por el hecho de que los conmemoran con respetuosas ceremonias cada mes de septiembre, los irlandeses les estamos muy agradecidos. [I wish to express my deep appreciation to you and to your colleagues in the Government of this City for the honour which you pay to these Irishmen – ‘los San Patricios’ – for their courage and the resulting contribution they made to their adopted ‘Patria.’ For the respectful ceremonies held every September, we Irish are very grateful.] In the modern era, many Irish educators, artists and musicians, as well as business people, have called Mexico City home. On the surface, because of the differences in scale, it may seem as though Mexico City and the cities of Ireland have little in common, but one needs only to spend a short time in our respective cities to be struck by a deep affinity – a personal warmth, a respect for history and a passion for culture which are shared by the people of Mexico and Ireland. I am departing Mexico City this afternoon, but the past few days have been very special to me. I have made new friends and met old ones, including the children of Roberto Barnstone and Anne Bauer, who first introduced me to Mexican life. I have learned an immense amount, have revisited past memories and will leave with a vibrant set of new ones. Today Mexico is a dynamic country that is recognized internationally as being committed to playing a full part in the global arena – not just economically but through its contribution to working in partnership with the international community in tackling the enormous challenges facing us all – the fight against climate change, against poverty, hunger and malnutrition; the promotion of human rights and of a more equal global society. Reitero mi agradecimiento al gobierno del Distrito Federal y al pueblo de esta Ciudad por la calidez de su recepción y mi deseo para el mayor de los éxitos con sus ambiciosos planes para la Ciudad. Muchísimas Gracias. [May I, once again thank the Gobierno del Distrito Federal and the people of this City for the warmth of their reception, and to wish you every success with your ambitious plans for this City. Thank you.]


Ireland and Mexico in the Twenty-First Century: A Legacy of Friendship and a Shared Future

Address by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Instituto Matías Romero at the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Mexico Wednesday, 23rd October, 2013

Embajador Carlos de Icaza, Sub Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, Embajador Alfonso de María, Director del Instituto Matias Romero, Dr. Fernando Castañeda Sabido, Director del Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Embajador Enrique Berruga, Y, en particular, quisiera saludar a los estudiantes aquí presents, Señoras y señores, Es con sumo placer que me presento ante ustedes hoy como Presidente de Irlanda para reflexionar sobre el pasado que entrelaza a Irlanda y a México y para mirar, desde ese pasado compartido, hacia un futuro en común. Deseo agradecer a la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México y al Instituto Matías Romero por invitarme a brindar este discurso. Hago extensivo este agradecimiento al Sr. Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, por su apoyo e interés en mi vista a México y por esta oportunidad de dirigirme a ustedes en la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores. [I am delighted to have this opportunity to address you today as President of Ireland, to reflect on Ireland and Mexico’s intertwined pasts, and to look from that shared past towards our shared future. I would like to thank the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Instituto Matías Romero for inviting me to deliver this address. May I also thank Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, for his support and interest in my visit to Mexico and for this opportunity to deliver this address in Mexico’s Foreign Ministry.] Here, in this modern Foreign Ministry, we are surrounded by the rich and varied strands of your past history and great culture, and I am conscious of the immense scholarship of the great Octavio Paz in submitting that rich tapestry to a scrutiny that was both moral and marvellous. Just a short distance from where we are lies the Templo Mayor and the ruins of the great Aztec city of Tenochtitlan – the site of so many contradictions of beauty and cruelty, of the seizure of power and the destructive consequences of colonising forces, while your auditorium, named for one of your great historical figures, José María Morelos y Pavón, also evokes Mexico’s deep and strong revolutionary traditions. Visitors to your country, such as my wife Sabina and I, feel privileged to have this opportunity to encounter in Mexico City an extraordinary legacy of pre-Colombian and colonial treasures located next to bustling modernity. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit again Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology. Since my last visit to this remarkable collection of pre-Colombian Mesoamerican treasures, when I was a student at the University of Indiana in the 1960s, I have often reflected on how the extraordinary heritage of Mexico and your neighbours in Central America adds such a rich complexity and depth to your contemporary societies. That heritage offers a wealth of sources without, as Octavio Paz might wish, surrendering or being determined by any one period or influence, always staying open to new possibilities. I feel greatly honoured to have this opportunity to return as President of Ireland. Through that rich tapestry of Mexican history and culture a strong Irish thread is visible at many of the more fateful moments of your history, reflecting the presence in Mexico of countless Irish exiles and immigrants, the ‘wild geese’ who had fled from Ireland’s own seventeenth century wars of conquest and religion to find a new life and new beginnings in what was then ‘New Spain’. Adventurers, soldiers, traders, administrators, or simply farmers and workers seeking a better future, many 38

Irish people came to Mexico and settled here during the colonial years, bringing their own values and stories to these shores. An example from the seventeenth century was Guillém de Lamport, born in Co. Wexford in Ireland in 1615. After an adventurous life in the Spanish Netherlands, Spain and eventually Mexico, he died at the hands of the inquisition here in Mexico City in 1659. Though sentenced for heresy, his real crime had been to author the first declaration of independence in what was then the Spanish Indies. It was a remarkable document that promised land reform, equality of opportunity, racial equality and a democratically elected monarch; all this a full century before the French Revolution, and surely an inspiration for the famous Mexican “Grito” of 1810. While many myths have grown up around de Lamport’s colourful but ultimately tragic figure, not least that he was the inspiration for the legendary figure of “El Zorro”, it is his visionary contribution to revolutionary and independent thinking that must be considered his true legacy, and it is for this that he is of course honoured on your Column of Independence here in Mexico city. Yet another man of Irish descent was Seville-born Juan O Donohú, the last Viceroy of New Spain who also played his part in your independence movement. On 24th August 1821 he remained true to his liberal principles and recognized Mexico’s independence and the Plan de Ayala. He knew that in doing so, he was risking, at the very least, his own hitherto stellar career in the Spanish royal service, if not his life. A somewhat solitary figure who died shortly afterwards, he continues to hold an honoured place in your history as one who did the right thing, at the right time when it was not an easy choice for him to make. Following independence, many more Irish people came to Mexico, and their names and descendants are everywhere to be found today. In a true reflection of the strength of Mexico’s unique blend and union of cultures, many of their names have become so Spanish that their modern day descendants may not even be aware that their ancestors, in the distant past, hailed from Ireland. Thus, while everyone recognizes and is aware of the Irish links of your great actor Anthony Quinn, how many people know that the apparently very Mexican name of Álvaro Obregón, President of Mexico from 1920 -1924, was in fact originally the proud Irish surname of O’Brien? Many Mexicans know, of course, of the history of John O’Reilly and the Batallón de San Patricio. Those gallant Irish fighters, having first settled in the USA in the nineteenth century, chose to join the Mexican cause and gave their lives for their adopted Patria in the war of 1846-1848. I know that in Mexico the memory of their heroism and sacrifice continues to be celebrated in Saltillo, in Monterrey, in Mexico City at San Ángel and in Coyoacán at the site of the Battle of Churubusco. In the Irish town of Clifden, Co. Galway, my home county and John O’Reilly’s birthplace, these brave men and their honoured place in Mexico’s history are also remembered in September of every year. I had the pleasure of visiting Plaza San Jacinto on my arrival in Mexico City on Sunday and of viewing the plaque and statue honouring the San Patricios and their contribution to Mexico. It was deeply moving to see that they remain of such living and immediate relevance to so many Mexicans. Others of Irish descent came to Mexico in more recent times, including the great Juan O’Gorman who has contributed so much in his unique way to the architecture of your great city. More recently still, we can admire the work of the late Phil Kelly and the artist Leonora Carrington, whose startling mix of Celtic and 39

Mexican influences is currently bringing its light to our Dublin autumn at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. In addition, the Irish artist Brian Maguire is representative of an art that engages with the contemporary lives of Mexican citizens, including women and families, in Juarez and elsewhere. This rich blending of Irish and Mexican cultural life has intensified as our network of global communications has made people to people contacts easier. An interesting aspect of our joint projects is this spirit and ethos of collaboration. We – the Irish and Mexicans – have a legacy of being a portal of translations, transmission and interpretation of the work of each other, both from Spanish into English and English into Spanish. In Paris in the 1940s Octavio Paz and Samuel Beckett, both later to be Nobel laureates, collaborated on an anthology of Mexican poetry. Some decades later, in Dublin, Mexico City and Oaxaca, another Irish Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, worked with poet Pura Lopez Colome and artist Francisco Toledo in the translation into Spanish and the production of a beautiful edition of Station Island – Isla de las Estaciones. I know that Pura and Seamus worked closely together on other translations into Spanish of Heaney’s work and that, through this close and fruitful collaboration, full of mutual respect, many in Mexico and in the Spanish speaking world have been brought into contact with this great man’s work through the sensitive interpretation of his Mexican friend. Pura is here with us today and I want to thank her for all that she has done to bring our two great literary cultures closer. When I consider these notable examples of great art being created and enhanced by Mexican and Irish collaboration, I am struck again at the rich seam of influence and enrichment that is shared by Irish and Latin American culture and writing. Me viene a la mente cómo el escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges en su ensayo de 1951 “El escritor argentino y la tradición” utilizó la tradición irlandesa como modelo de cómo países considerados como periféricos a otra tradición podían tomar la lengua hegemónica de sus vecinos y, aún impuesta, recrearla y reinventar una literatura a su propia imagen y semejanza. Él escribió: “Tratándose de los irlandeses, no tenemos por qué suponer que la profusión de nombres irlandeses en la literatura y la filosofía británicas se deba a una preeminencia racial…Sin embargo, les bastó el hecho de sentirse irlandeses, distintos para innovar en la cultura inglesa. Creo que los argentinos, los sudamericanos en general, estamos en una situación análoga; podemos manejar todos los temas europeos, manejarlos sin supersticiones, con una irreverencia que puede tener, y ya tiene, consecuencias afortunadas.” [I am reminded of how the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges in his 1951 essay “The Argentine Writer and Tradition”, used the Irish tradition as a model for how countries which may be regarded as being on the periphery of another tradition could take the neighbouring hegemonic language and, even if it was imposed, recreate and reinvent a literature in their own image. He wrote: “In the case of the Irish, we have no reason to suppose that the profusion of Irish names in British literature and philosophy is due to any racial pre-eminence, however, it was sufficient for them to feel Irish, to feel different, in order to be innovators in English culture. I believe that we Argentines, we South Americans in general, are in an analogous situation; we can handle all European themes, handle them without superstition, with an irreverence which can have, and already does have, fortunate consequences.”]


Borges was, I believe, conscious of the pleasing irony that the people of Ireland, a country in which the language of English was imposed as a product of colonisation, were sufficiently resilient and adaptive that they used that imposition to release the creative genius among a gallery of writers including four Nobel laureates in literature: Seamus Heaney, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats. The same capacity to adapt, to shape, to reimagine is, I know, true of Mexican writers and artists with extraordinary depths of talent, be it the visionary Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes, or your new generation of gifted writers and poets. Today our two countries celebrate the strong ties of history and friendship which bind our two peoples in many ways: economic, educational and cultural, and also through our pursuit of our shared values on the global stage. Mexico is Ireland’s biggest trading partner in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Irish firms have invested in Mexico, most particularly in agribusiness where Ireland’s strengths and reputation for excellence have found a ready welcome and a co-operative partnership. Cooperation is growing in many other sectors too, as Ireland continues its recovery from the economic crisis of recent years. Our recovery is being based on what we do well: our dynamic and outward looking export sector, our world class agriculture, our creative industries, our strength in technology and innovation, aviation, financial services, and a dynamic, focused third level education sector. I know that these are the main sources of the recent growth in economic cooperation between Ireland and Mexico and that through such solid and sustainable economic and educational links our two countries will continue to deepen and build our relationship. Already some 1,600 Mexican students are studying in Ireland. We are so pleased that they have chosen Ireland as their destination country for acquaintance with Europe; and that they have elected the land of Joyce, Yeats, Shaw, O’Casey and Heaney as their place to acquire and master the English language, as well as engage with our own ancient Irish language, music and culture. As a result of that engagement, each one of them becomes in turn a new and invaluable human link in the relationship between Mexico and Ireland. Nothing can be so important, or enriching for the future of our relationships as the connections now being forged between Irish and Mexican educational institutions, academics and students. I am hugely encouraged by the fact that five of our leading Universities have travelled with me to Mexico to further strengthen and deepen the links they have with Mexican third level institutions and make new connections with new partners. Mexico and Ireland have had very different economic experiences in recent years, with your economy, like many in the wider Latin America and Caribbean region, forging ahead and delivering growth and increased wellbeing to your people, ending the misery of extreme poverty for many and bringing countless more into the productive economy. In Ireland, we have experienced acute economic difficulties in very recent times and our people have been asked to make great sacrifices to enable our economic recovery and a return to sustainable growth. That recovery is now at last in sight, a true recovery based, not on speculation, but on the real economy of work, production and value, on our commitment to working together to overcome our problems, and on the creativity, innovation and talents which are our young country’s best strengths. The recent setbacks have also evoked a new sense of solidarity and community, as people seek to find new ways to move forward together and find constructive sustainable approaches to move beyond the crisis that has so affected the global economy since 2008. 41

One experience we both share is the history and legacy of living in the shadow of a powerful neighbour. In the case of both Ireland and Mexico, the historical relationship with our more powerful neighbour was often, and understandably, the cause of tension and conflict. Happily, in more recent years, those critical relationships have been placed on a more constructive and mutually-respectful footing. In the case of Ireland, our relationship with the United Kingdom is no longer exclusively defined by what separates us but is viewed through the prism of all that we have in common in terms of our economy, our culture, our sport and our people to people connections. Another phenomenon that Ireland and Mexico share is our experience of migration. This pattern of emigration is deeply etched in the recent history of our two countries. Our respective diasporas are a hugely important part of the Irish and Mexican national consciousness. We both feel a great sense of solidarity with our migrants; we seek to stay connected with them in their adopted countries; we are proud of their achievements and we hope that future circumstances will allow many of them to return to their homeland. I know that both of our governments share the hope that comprehensive immigration reform in the United States will offer new vistas of hope and possibility for our respective citizens who live and work there. In different respects, therefore, our recent economic and social histories both converge and diverge. However, our two countries and our two regions, Ireland and Mexico, the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean, along with the wider world, continue to face common and increasingly serious challenges as we begin to look beyond the 2015 milestone for the achievement of the UN Millennium Goals, set with such purpose and hope by the world’s leaders at the turn of the century, and who were called on … For the European Union, Mexico is one of its ten global strategic partners. As a long standing advocate for regional integration and the European project, Ireland welcomes the strong role that Mexico plays within the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which is now the regional framework for the European Union’s collaboration with your region. I believe there is much to be gained in a structured, pro-active and mutually respectful dialogue between Europe and Latin America. The value of such a dialogue in the past may have been constrained by mindsets and assumptions that understandably arose from the legacy of colonialism. However, it is abundantly clear that both regions have a huge amount to learn from each other in the contemporary period and that this learning can and should be a genuinely open and reciprocal experience. As the European Union grapples with the economic recession and the daunting levels of unemployment, especially youth unemployment, in some Member States, I believe a lot can be learned from the policy models adopted by some countries in Latin America that have successfully implemented strategies that have simultaneously delivered economic growth, employment creation and poverty reduction. The current global crisis is not only about recovery or the appropriate economic policies to implement for a return to where we were before the crisis started. It is also about the right ideas being considered, new thinking, new models advanced, assumptions tested and debated. Of one reality we can be certain that is that unregulated markets have given us the most serious economic meltdown since 1929, in global terms. As former President Lula da Silva of Brazil told the United Nations in 2009: “More than a crisis of big banks, this is the crisis of the big dogmas.”


When it comes to deconstructing these dogmas, I believe that some of the freshest and most creative thinking is coming from Latin America, where economists, political and social scientists are not afraid to question prevailing orthodoxies and are bringing forward for discussion and debate alternative models and paradigms for the connection between economy and society and for the relationship between the market and the state. There is an intellectual fall-down often missing in those parts of the world where antipathy to the role of the state has offered unregulated markets as an ideology to be followed without question while the consequences in poverty and unemployment ravage their societies. Encouraging progress has been made on the achievement of the UN Millennium Goals, to which I referred earlier, not least in Mexico which has had exceptional progress in reaching them. Nevertheless, across the world, enormous challenges remain. Another area of common concern to Mexico and Ireland is climate change, which is having an ever more visible impact, as your recent tragic losses here in Mexico have shown. Everywhere, the increasing fragility of the world’s ecosystems is becoming apparent, even as we work to create resilience and provide sustainable livelihoods and paths to prosperity for our people. Then too the world`s resources are deflected by the arms industry from the tasks of feeding the world`s citizens. Wars and conflicts remain, with their related humanitarian disasters and human rights abuses. Nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction proliferate while conventional weapons and easy availability of small arms also wreak their havoc. The issue of drugs and drug related crime also threatens the security and well being of all our societies but most particularly the regions of production and transit, with such huge social and human costs as you, in Mexico, know only too well. Ireland and Mexico, working together on the basis of our shared values, have forged a series of partnerships on these and related issues in recent times and we are working together to move the international agenda forward on these major questions for our future. When it comes to forging, initiating or building a consensus on many international issues, Mexico is a partner of choice for Ireland as we seek, through the United Nations and other international mechanisms to find solutions to the serious issues which confront our world today and which cannot be solved on a national or even on a regional basis. We are in agreement on the need for a new development paradigm and on a new inclusive approach to development which will place sustainable patterns of production and consumption, inclusion and equality, at the core of global policies beyond 2015. Mexico and Ireland are united also in our focus on hunger and nutrition as we seek to ensure a world where this most basic human need of all is met. Ireland has been a founding supporter of the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition Movement’ and the links between hunger, nutrition and climate change have been a major focus for the Irish Presidency of the European Union earlier this year. Even today for Irish people, over one hundred and fifty years after the end of our Great Famine, Irish people are shocked that people should still suffer, in so many countries, from malnutrition and indeed die of hunger daily. Mexico too is strongly focused on ending hunger, and this is an area where we can draw from each other and work together so as to put an end to this fundamental affront to humanity.


On disarmament issues, Ireland and Mexico have a strong history of like-mindedness and cooperation. Both our countries have been regional leaders on these crucial questions for today’s world and tomorrow’s future, often leading the way for our respective regions in exploring better and more successful outcomes for intergovernmental approaches to disarmament. Historically, both Ireland and Mexico have been to the fore in nuclear non-proliferation, both in relation to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and also, in Mexico’s case, in the ground-breaking regional Treaty of Tlatelolco. More recently we have worked together to ensure the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty with its aim of fostering peace and security through the regulation of the transfer of conventional weapons and ending the destabilising arms flows to conflict regions. Ireland and Mexico were among the first states to sign this new Treaty which we believe represents a substantial contribution to international law and the mitigation of the scourge of unregulated arms traffic. I congratulate the Mexican government on depositing Mexico’s Instrument of Ratification at the UN last month. I also look forward to our further cooperation on the Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Disarmament and welcome the follow up Conference which Mexico will host next February. Like Mexico, Ireland will continue to participate actively in this significant new focus for international disarmament efforts. Señoras y señores, Ireland and Mexico are two ancient countries with very young populations. We represent ancient civilisations who were colonised by powerful forces, and who yet succeeded in retaining as legacy some of the essence of what was best and enriching from those ancient times, including the blending together of people, language and ideas, to create the unique fusions that are Irish and Mexican cultures today. We have both inherited a legacy of revolution and change from the twentieth century, with many significant anniversaries occurring for us in recent decades. From our troubled past we have learned many lessons, including those from our famed diasporas, who have gone on to contribute so much to their new home countries. Most of all we have inherited a sense of responsibility to those who have gone before us, and to those who will come after, to leave to them a world that it is a more equal, secure and inclusive place in which to live. The Irish and Mexican cooperation on the world stage of which I have spoken is strong evidence of this commitment to our shared history, common values and a belief that a better future for all our citizens can and will be achieved. I will end on a note that emphasises our mutual historical and cultural links and one of the lesser known stories of Irish-Mexican literary connections. While at his diplomatic post in Paris in the late 1940s, junior diplomat and poet Octavio Paz was approached by UNESCO and asked to produce and translate an anthology of Mexican poetry. For the translation into English of the poems, they recommended to Paz a little known Irish writer called Samuel Beckett who, it turned out, did not actually know much Spanish. Neither man appears to have approached the task with any great enthusiasm. Paz was unhappy with the editorial restrictions imposed by UNESCO and the OAS who were sponsoring the project, while in Beckett’s case financial considerations were apparently the main incentive for him to take on the task. The result of 44

this unlikely collaboration between these two men, who were both to go on to win Nobel prizes for literature, became one of the definitive twentieth century collections of Mexican poetry in English and it is still available today. Beckett’s approach to this work was to try to produce a translation which would be as rich and as subtle as the original. I will leave this distinguished audience to judge if he succeeded and if, true to our Irish and Mexican traditions, in this blending of the original with the translation, he succeeded in producing something that was in fact, a new and wonderful poetic creation. Sol de Monterrey by Alfonso Reyes, translated from the Spanish by Samuel Beckett: Cuando salí de mi casa con mi bastón y mi hato le dije a mi corazón ! ya llevas el sol para rato Es tesoro y no se acaba no se me acaba - y lo gasto. When I with my stick and bundle went from here, to my heart I said: Now bear the sun awhile! It is a hoard - unending, unending - that I squander Continuemos desde aquí, irlandeses y mexicanos, con nuestro bastón y nuestro hato transitando juntos por esta gran obra que consiste en enriquecer nuestras culturas y forjar un futuro mejor para nuestros pueblos y para el mundo. [Let us, both Irish and Mexican, go from here with our bundles and our sticks, and continue together this great work of enriching both our cultures and seeking to create a better future for our two peoples, and for the world.]


Acto de Reconocimiento [Ceremony of Acknowledgement]

Address by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

National Assembly, San Salvador, El Salvador Thursday, 24th October, 2013

Sr. Presidente de la Asamblea Legislativa, Diputado Sigfrido Reyes, Distinguidos Diputadas y Diputados, May I begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to the distinguished members of this National Assembly. The honour that you have conferred on me personally by the presentation of the Order of Merit 5th November 1811 and on my nation, with this Acto de Reconocimiento touches me very deeply. El Salvador ocupa un lugar especial en mi corazón. Mientras estoy aquí de pie, mis ojos recorren las placas sobre las que ustedes se encuentran sentados y que portan los emblemas de los departamentos de su país. Muchos de esos nombres resuenan en mí profundamente. [El Salvador occupies a special place in my heart. As I stand here this afternoon, my eyes are moving across the plaques above where you are seated, plaques that carry the emblems of your country’s departments. Many of these place names resonate deeply with me. Recuerdo mis visitas pasadas a El Salvador, los días que pasé aquí, y los viajes que realicé a través de los departamentos de Morazán, Chalatenango y Cabañas durante el mes de enero de 1982. [I am reminded of my past visits to El Salvador – of the days spent in San Salvador, and of the journeys I took across the departments of Morazán, Chalatenango and Cabañas during the month of January 1982.] I am reminded, above all, of your compatriots – the women and men I met in the early 1980s – whose commitment to the defence of human rights and the pursuit of social justice, whose courage and outstanding spirit in the face of the widespread violence that was then tearing apart the Salvadoran society, have remained with me as a living source of inspiration. To find myself again in El Salvador, now as President of Ireland, moves me profoundly. To be received by you so warmly in this Chamber, this seat of democratic accountability for the citizens of this country, is a great honour. To be invited to be part of the El Salvador you have achieved as your present, and to hear of the future you envision is a privilege I cherish deeply. Sr. Presidente, Estimados Diputados y Diputadas, This afternoon, I feel the warmth and solidarity that exist between the peoples of El Salvador and Ireland. I sense a spiritual bond between our countries that makes me feel at home – at home in El Salvador, and at

President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina with President of the Republic of El Salvador Don Maurico Funes and his wife Dr. Vanda Pignato at the Presidential Palace, San Salvador. 47

home among its legislators. It was as a legislator, as a member of an Irish parliamentary delegation, that I travelled to El Salvador three decades ago, at the invitation of those deeply concerned with human rights, to investigate the horrific massacre that wiped out the small rural community of El Mozote on 11th December, 1981. I felt compelled, then, to bear witness, to share with a wider international audience a sense of what I had seen and the messages I had heard. My connections with El Salvador and its people influenced my outlook on the world; they informed my conviction that no level of repression and violence can extinguish a people’s thirst for social change, and that respect for human rights is the fundamental basis of the rule of law. Estimados Diputados y Diputadas, As legislators, you occupy a pivotal role in the shaping of your country’s present and future. You carry a clear and direct line of trust and responsibility that has been conferred on you by your fellow citizens. It is to this Chamber that the citizens of this country look for accountability, for the representation of their collective interest, and for the elaboration of policies that foster human rights and human flourishing. I salute you and wish you well from the bottom of my heart in all your endeavours on behalf of your people. When I speak of human rights, I am not speaking of abstract theory, of legalism, of international instruments operating on a plateau removed from the realities of daily life. I am not just making reference to the crucial concepts of civil and political rights – of that most fundamental right to life and freedom – but also to economic, social and cultural rights. I have written elsewhere about these rights, in Ireland and elsewhere, that: “it is not only about the right to survive, it is about the right to flourish;” and that: “in a Republic, the right to shelter, food, security, education, a good environment, quality public services and freedom from fear and insecurity from childhood to old age, must be the benchmarks.” I see in your Parliament, as in all Parliaments, a key role in giving shape to a society in which citizens are confident of having ample prospect of progress for themselves and their children. I also see in this Parliament a crucial role in making space for a robust debate that ensures that those commitments to which states subscribe in international law are given tangible effect at home. I know that these fundamental objectives are of great importance to you. I know that some of you present here today have – alongside so many of your compatriots – struggled for the right, the most fundamental of rights, to live a life free of violence, free of oppression, free to pursue opportunities for economic and social development. Estimados Diputados y Diputadas, As President of Ireland, a member of the European Union, I want to emphasize that it has long been my belief that Ireland and the other member-states of the European Union can learn much from Latin America. 48

Between Ireland and El Salvador, there is an ease in our shared sense of understanding. We are two small countries – countries who have experienced colonisation, and have fought for national independence, who have experienced conflict but also the resolution of conflict. In our own peace process, in Northern Ireland, we continue to face the difficulty of reconciling diverging narratives about the past. We are conscious of the need to continue with the task of building confidence between our communities, so that they can move on beyond the narrow alleys of sectarianism and the baleful narratives, or pseudo-narratives, of the past. Ireland and El Salvador have another important shared experience – we share the experience of migration, and a concern for a deep connection with our very significant diasporas. We are both confronted, finally, with what constitutes the biggest challenge on the way to a thriving economy and society – that is, unemployment, and in particular youth unemployment. In Europe as in Central America, I see the resolution to this most important problem within the framework of regional integration and cooperation. We need cooperation instead of unilateralism: cooperation in restoring the conditions for economic growth, cooperation in reforming the global financial system, cooperation in fostering inter-generational solidarity and territorial justice. Ireland and our partners in the European Union are eager to deepen and upgrade our relationships with El Salvador and with the countries of Central America. We are anxious to foster cooperation between our respective regional integration institutions, as well as at the level of the United Nations, as partners addressing global challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and conflict resolution. I offer to you every assistance we can give, every cooperation that Ireland can facilitate in these relationships. We are also keen to work together to ensure that the EU-Central America Association Agreement supports meaningful, just and lasting connections, which have both economic and societal benefits. We live in a shifting economic landscape: in 2012, for the first time in modern history, the GDP of developing countries surpassed that of developed economies. This surely is a sign that, in the decades to come, the role of Latin America, Asia and Africa in driving the motor of world economic dynamism and in proposing new economic and social models will become ever more important. Trade is, of course, an important component of the prosperity of nations, which affects the livelihoods of citizens. The global geography of trade is also changing. 20 years ago, 60% of the world trade was made up of North to North trade flows and only 10% of South to South exchanges. However, it is now expected that by 2020, South-South trade flows will reach a third of the world trade. Let it be a just trade that reflects an ethical

President Michael D. Higgins with President of the Republic of El Salvador Don Maurico Funes at the Presidential Palace, San Salvador 49

understanding of our fundamental interdependency as peoples. This change owes a lot to the latest revolution in technology and transports – Internet and the development of intermodal containerisation – and also to the expansion of “value chains”. Today trade is not so much about finished products and services anymore. It is about adding value by contributing to a stage of the production, or by providing a service. In other words, the focus is no longer on how to export more, but how to add more value. The stretching of supply chains globally has thus allowed emerging countries – and in some ways, Ireland could have been counted as one of them up until recently – to find new means of inserting themselves into the world economy. In January of this year, the WTO and the OECD launched a new set of data that measures trade in valueadded, whereas traditional statistics attribute the full commercial value to the final link in the production President Michael D. Higgins receiving the Highest State chain. Importantly, this new measure helps identify the Honour of the ‘Orden Nacional Jose Matias Delgado en Grado de Gran Cruz Placa de Oro’ from President of employment related to the value addition and to focus the Republic of El Salvador Don Maurico Funes at the public policies on what really matters – that is, the Presidential Palace, San Salvador creation of jobs. This is but the beginning of changes that are needed in the measurement exercises of what are influential global sources of opinion on policy options. Estimados Diputados y Diputadas, Later this afternoon I will make a return visit to the Universidad Centroamericana, La UCA. There I will ponder on my connection with the events that affected your country in the years 1980-1991. I will have an opportunity to reflect on the women and the men who inspired us all to maintain hope by their bravery in their call for justice in difficult circumstances. As I stand here today and celebrate how El Salvador has set about resolving issues of social and economic change through the peaceful means of democratic engagement, I think of those parts of the world where women and men do not enjoy the freedoms now enjoyed here. Some ten years ago, as he introduced a poem that he had written to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the late Séamus Heaney, the inspirational Irish poet and Literature Nobel Prize Laureate, spoke movingly of the need to respond to “the call of conscience.” He said that: “We must not waver in our trust in our inherited human values, that we must credit the rightness of our intuitions and know that we are called upon to keep faith with every good impulse. We must not forget the call of conscience and we must endeavour to keep others awake to it.”


Might I take this opportunity to echo this sentiment and also to suggest that it is not enough that we promote and protect fundamental rights and freedoms in our own countries. We must continue “to keep others awake to it” so as to promote the universality of human rights throughout the world. Les felicito por sus logros, les deseo lo mejor en sus esfuerzos futuros en nombre de su pueblo y, desde el corazón, les agradezco la cálida bienvenida salvadoreña que recibimos mi esposa Sabina y yo, así como mi comitiva. [I congratulate you on your achievements, wish you well in your future endeavours on behalf of all your people and I, from my heart, thank you for the warmth of your Salvadoran welcome to me, my wife Sabina and those accompanying us.] Muchísimas Gracias.

President Michael D. Higgins with Deputy Sigfrido Reyes, President of the Legislative Assembly at the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly where President Higgins received the ‘Order of Merit 5 November 1811’ “Heroes of Homeland Independence” in San Salvador 51

Of Memory and Testimony The Importance of Paying Tribute to Those Who Were Emancipatory

Address by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

La Universidad Centroamericana, San Salvador, El Salvador Thursday, 24th October, 2013

Padre Andreu Oliva, Rector de la Universidad Centroamérica, Padre Mauricio Gaborit, Vice Presidente del Junta de Directores, Licenciado René Zelaya, Secretario del Junta de Directores, Estudiantes, Amigas y Amigos, Estoy profundamente emocionado estar hoy, aquí, en la Universidad Centroamericana. Mi esposa Sabina y yo valoramos enormemente la oportunidad de recordar y dar testimonio de aquellos que murieron y sufrieron en El Salvador durante los años 1980 a 1991 por erguirse en defensa de los derechos humanos. La suya fue una lucha por mayor justicia social, incluyendo la emancipación de la pobreza, el acceso a la tierra y a los medios básicos de subsistencia para los salvadoreños más pobres. [I am profoundly moved to be present here today at the Universidad Centroamericana. It means so much to me and to my wife Sabina to have the opportunity of remembering and bearing witness to those who died and suffered in El Salvador during the years 1980 to 1991 as they stood up for the defence of human rights. Theirs was a struggle for greater social justice that included emancipation from poverty, access to land, and the basic means of livelihood for the poorest Salvadorans.] This is my third visit to El Salvador. When I first came to your country, in January 1982, the atmosphere was very different from the one which now happily offers such opportunity and hope. El Salvador was then a place where people were being tortured, raped, killed and disappeared everyday; a place where countless others were being displaced and forced to become refugees. Families were broken up. The country’s social fabric was being torn apart as a result of the widespread violence exerted by the state on the insurgent forces and the non-combatant population alike, but also because of the social harm caused by the reckless impunity which accompanied that violence. Indeed it was under the protection of state bodies, but outside the law, that crimes of the gravest sort were being committed daily. Opposition political leaders, trade unionists, churchmen, human rights activists, educators, cooperative leaders and beneficiaries of the agrarian reform – that is, all those who were perceived and defined as ‘subversives’ by certain elements of the privileged establishment and their supporters within the government and army – became the target of systematic acts of terror. In an effort to deprive the guerillas of their means of survival, entire communities too were destroyed by members of the armed forces and their paramilitary adjuncts during their counter-insurgency operations. This was notably the case in rural areas, where violence was indiscriminate in the extreme. Violence breeds violence, and human rights were also being violated by members of the guerrilla forces, particularly through the forcible recruitment of combatants, hostage-taking and the murder of mayors, government officials, judges, and those designated as traitors or ‘orejas’ [informers]. 5% of the complaints registered in the early 1990s by the UN ‘Commission for the Truth in El Salvador’ thus concern the FMLN. With the end of the war and the signature of the Chapultetec Peace Agreement, on 16th January 1992, Salvadorans embarked on the difficult task of confronting the causes and results of such devastating violence, as well as – to quote the words of the UN Truth Commission – “the issue of the widespread, institutionalized impunity which had struck at its very heart”. Así que permítanme expresar mi admiración por el pueblo del Salvador, por el coraje que ha demostrado durante la terrible odisea del conflicto, por su extraordinario espíritu, puesto de manifiesto generosamente durante el proceso de paz y por el modo en que ahora encara la memoria de esos tiempos oscuros.


[So let me express my admiration for the Salvadoran people, for the courage they have shown throughout the terrible ordeal of the conflict, for the outstanding spirit which they have generously demonstrated in the peace process, and for the ways in which they are now tackling the memory of the dark times.] Memory, indeed, constitutes one of the greatest sources of interrogation bequeathed to us by the twentieth century, with its cortege of mass crimes and fateful experimentations with totalitarianism. How and what are we to remember? How are individual and collective memory articulated? What must never become the subject of amoral amnesia? In what ways does the ‘duty of memory’ summon us to do justice to the dead? To what extent are we to allow ourselves to be changed as we listen to the narrative of the other? What is the relationship between memory and history? These are first order moral questions. They are central to the work of important thinkers such as Maurice Halbwachs, Hannah Arendt, or Paul Ricoeur – work that I find myself returning to again and again as I attempt an answer to such questions, not only in the case of El Salvador but in so many spaces of conflict, including Northern Ireland. According to Argentine human rights activist, Juan E. Méndez, while it is the case that each society coming out of a war attempts to confront its past in the way it deems most appropriate to its specific situation, the role of ‘truth’ in building durable peace must be recognised; its pursuit is essential. As he puts it: “the question of how to address a legacy of human rights violations occupies a central place in most transition processes to democracy because it says something of the quality of the nascent regime”. 1 It is therefore encouraging to acknowledge, in the wider Latin American region, the important cathartic role played by institutions such as the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago de Chile, or the Space for Memory and the Promotion of Human Rights in Buenos Aires, which I had the privilege to visit last year. The creation of such spaces allows those who experienced abuse of human rights and direct personal loss during an armed conflict, to tell their stories and to see the histories of their loved ones reinserted into the communal memory. The ongoing struggle against impunity is an important one. That struggle is not only endorsed by dedicated institutions, but it is also, we must never forget, made possible by the courage of so many remarkable individuals, who continue to battle against the obscuring of the past, who seek to salvage from the grim oblivion of death and torture the spirit of their loved ones who have been murdered or ‘disappeared’. Last year in Chile, I met with Joan Turner Jara, the widow of the great singer and songwriter Victor Jara, who was tortured and executed in the early days of the Chilean military dictatorship. In Argentina I was privileged to be asked to speak in remembrance of Patrick Rice, an Irishman and human rights advocate who, as a young priest in the 1970s, had been imprisoned and tortured under the military junta, and who went on to be the driving force behind the UN ‘International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance’. I met Fatima Cabrera, who was seventeen when she was kidnapped, tortured in a cell adjacent to Patrick’s and held for three years in prison, and who, years later, became Patrick’s wife. She was accompanied by one of their daughters. Talking with these women, I could sense the determination that animates the families and friends of those who have suffered at the hands of an iniquitous regime, and their commitment to the cause of human rights everywhere. My translation. Quoted from Mendez, J. E. 2007. ‘El derecho humano a la verdad. Lecciones de las experiencias latinoamericana de relato de la verdad.’ Text published as a contribution to the project Historizar el pasado vivo en America Latina.



Similarly, here, in El Salvador, it is heartening to see the positive role played by institutions such as the Centro Monseñor Romero, hosted by this university, dedicated as it is, not only to sustaining the memory of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero and numerous others whose lives were cut short by violence, but also – through its pastoral activities – to nurturing the values of social change, and a spirit of hope in the Salvadoran people.

President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins with Rector Padre Andreu in a room at ‘Centro Monsenor Romero’, where a housekeeper and her 16 year old daughter were murdered prior to the murder of six Jesuit scholars/priests, during the Salvadoran Civil War on November 16, 1989, on the campus of Universidad Centroamerica (La UCA) in San Salvador.

President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins with Joe Costello TD Minister for Trade and Development and Rector Padre Andreu at the Rose Garden in the ‘Centro Monsenor Romero’, at the site where six Jesuit scholars/priests were murdered.

In a context where it is currently difficult for families to access information about the fate of their loved ones, the work performed by this University’s Instituto de Derechos Humanos (IDHUCA), which, for the past few years, has conducted a restorative justice tribunal, is a most valuable one. And so is the project ‘History, Memory and Justice in El Salvador’, launched in 2011, which has seen the IDHUCA coming together with students and faculty of the University of Washington’s Centre for Human Rights who are working on declassified documents from the CIA, and various US Government Departments, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of State, in order to seek justice for the victims of the Salvadoran war.

I also find deeply inspiring the ongoing project of creating a definitive register of those who died. I am pleased to note that Ireland’s development assistance programme contributes, in some small but highly meaningful way, to this work of remembering through the support granted to the Sisters of Chigwell’s work with the survivors and their families in El Mozote. I am delighted that Sr. Anne Griffin and a group representing the community of El Mozote are with us this evening. ‘Why care?’ – some could be tempted to ask; ‘it is a thirty years old conflict.’ But for those who have lost a loved one, it does not matter how many years have passed. The questions and pain are always present, for there is no greater object of sorrow, nothing more upsetting than a human life not being allowed to bloom to its full potential. The naming of each and every one of those who died or was made to ‘disappear’ is of the utmost importance. This is something I personally feel strongly about, and it is why I opened one of my poems from the 1980s, entitled ‘Memory’, with a line from French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, which simply said that “to be forgotten is to die twice.” 55

Only through the restoration of the integrity of individual histories, through the work of memory, and through open narratives can solid foundations for a shared, peaceful future take shape. Thus to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of our own peace process in Ireland, marked by the endorsement through referendum, in 1998, of the Good Friday Agreement by the people of both parts of the island, we organised – last April in Dublin – a reading of the names of all those who died in the conflict. It was a very moving ceremony. The act of naming summons up the person’s singularity. The calling of the name is an antidote against reification. It is a means to rebut the reduction of a loved one, neighbour, or fellow citizen, to the heartless, indifferent category of the ‘subversive,’ the ‘enemy’, and to refuse the subsuming of the loss in the all-encompassing denomination of ‘the war’, ‘the conflict’. I look forward to visiting, tomorrow, the Memorial to Memory and Truth in Cuscatlan Park, where – thanks to the dedication of the Committee of the Mothers of the Disappeared and Assassinated of El Salvador – the names of 30,000 of those who died in the recent war are inscribed. Among the thousands of names engraved on that wall is that of Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who, in his death as in the later years of his life, found his place among the people of El Salvador.

President Michael D. Higgins with from left, Sally O’Neill Sanchez, Programme Director Trocaire, Joe Costello TD Minister for Trade and Development and Cunegunda Peña, a representative of the Committee of Families of the Victims of Violence of Human rights called ‘Marianella Garcia Villas’ named after a victim of the Civil war at the Monument to Memory and Truth, a monument containing over 30,000 names of the known murdered during the Civil War

The name of Oscar Romero that President Michael D. Higgins touched at the Monument to Memory and Truth, a monument containing over 30,000 names of the known murdered during the Civil War

Por supuesto, es imposible considerar la memoria colectiva de El Salvador sin reflexionar sobre el lugar que ocupa en ella Monseñor Romero, y vale la Peña evocar aquí la destacada trayectoria de este hombre fuera de lo común. [Of course it is impossible to consider the Salvadoran collective memory without reflecting on the place which Monsignor Romero occupies in it, and it is worthwhile to evoke here the remarkable trajectory of this extraordinary man.]


In the chapter they dedicate to him in their book entitled Cultural Memory, Jeanette Rodriguez and Ted Fortier explain how, at the same time as Romero began his Episcopal leadership, the Salvadoran Jesuits “underwent a conversion that led them to publicly side with the poor”.2 By 1973, the Jesuits had implemented their ‘preferential option for the poor’ by enrolling students from the poorest areas into the Universidad Centroamericana, and developing – in El Salvador as in other Latin American countries – ‘Christian base communities’, in which people were enabled to discuss the realities of their lives in light of the scriptures, and the various means at their disposal to address the injustices that surrounded them. Archbishop Romero may have, at the outset, criticised the Jesuits’ “political theology”, as he tried to maintain a ‘neutrality’ in the face of the conflict that was tearing apart El Salvador. Of course such silence and privileged friendship with those in power could be construed as political statements in themselves. According to Fortier and Rodriguez, it was Romero’s friendship with Father Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit priest who was openly in favour of a radical land reform, which “planted the seeds of his later conversion.”3 On the 12th March 1977, a few short weeks after Romero had been installed as Archbishop of San Salvador – a safe choice in the eyes of the Salvadoran establishment – his friend Rutilio Grande was murdered, along with a young boy and an elderly farmer. 100,000 people attended Grande’s funeral, which, according to the same authors, constituted a “church demonstration unprecedented in Salvadoran history”. The sermon that Archbishop Romero preached on that day, in which he defended Grande’s liberating work, his solidarity with the poor and his pleas for justice, stunned everybody. As Fortier and Rodriguez put it, ever after that funeral mass, “Romero dined with the poor, spoke out against institutional violence and encouraged people to reform their social structures in light of the Gospel”. According to them, the crucial element in the way Romero is remembered by the Salvadorans is that “he is viewed as one who walked with the people, not one who changed the people’s direction.”4 He was “el Obispo que anda con los pobres”. Monsignor Romero’s commitment not only as a witness but also as a bearer of a vision of an emancipatory ‘realidad,’ is reflected in the words of an address which he gave at the Catholic University of Louvain, in 1980: “As in other places in Latin America, after many years and perhaps centuries, the words of Exodus have resounded in our ears: So indeed the cry of the Israelites reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them. By recognizing that these realities exist and then letting their impact reach us, we have been returned to the world of the poor, and have found it to be our rightful place … In this world we have found the real faces of the poor of which Puebla speaks.5 There we found peasants without land or steady work, without water or electricity in their poor dwellings, without medical assistance when the women give birth, and without schools when the children begin to grow. There we found workers with no labor rights, workers at the mercy of the economy’s cold calculations. There we found mothers and wives of the ‘disappeared’ and political prisoners. There we met the people who live in hovels where misery exceeds the imagination, a permanent insult of the nearby mansions”.

2 3

Fortier T. and J. Rodriguez. 2007. Cultural Memory. Resistance, Faith, and Identity. University of Texas Press, p. 58.

Ibidem, p.59 Ibidem, p. 60


After the Second Vatican Council, the Latin American Episcopal Conference, which played an essential role in the formation of liberation theology, held two important conferences: the first in Medellín, Colombia, in 1968, and the second in Puebla, Mexico, in January 1979.



By using such words, by the example he was giving, the hope he was enabling, Óscar Romero became dangerous for the Salvadoran establishment, because he called into question the entire system of oppression, and the process by which – in his words: “wealth is made a god, private property is absolutized …, [and] national security is made the highest good by the political powers who institutionalize the insecurity of the individual”. He denounced what he labeled a “structure of sin” in his country: “It is sinful,” he said, “because it produces fruits of sin: the death of Salvadorans – the rapid death of repression or the slow death (but no less real) of structural oppression”. On the 23rd March 1980, at the end of his radio homily, Romero addressed the ordinary soldiers of the army themselves. This episode is related by one of the Irish witnesses of those dark times in Latin America, Luke Waldron, in his book A Dawn Unforeseen. Journey from the West of Ireland to the Barrios of Peru:6 “Brothers,” Romero began, “you are from the same people, you kill your fellow peasants ... No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God”. Then his voice grew louder: “In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people, I ask you, I beg you, I command you, in the name of God, to stop the repression”. The next day the Archbishop was shot dead by a sniper as he celebrated mass in the Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia. During the funeral, a bomb went off outside the Cathedral and the panic-stricken mourners were machine-gunned, leaving an estimated 30 to 40 people dead and several hundred wounded. Monsignor Óscar Romero’s life and death has been an inspiration to a generation of advocates of human rights and social justice all over the world. It is in his name and on the anniversary of his death, on 24th March, that the United Nations now host the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. Just as importantly, the Archbishop’s figure is regularly conjured up in the dances, songs, poems, and theatre performances of the Salvadoran people, and on the murals and posters that cover the walls of their cities. The strength of his words continues to galvanise their faith, and to crystallise their aspirations for a more just society. Thus Óscar Romero has become an illuminating icon not only for the Church but for the oppressed of the world and those in solidarity with them. We, in Ireland, can recognise these moments as founding events in what would become a widespread interest in, and support for, human rights by the Irish people. If I may, I would now like to share with you my own brief reflection on my connection with these events that affected your country in the 1980s. What is one to make of one’s involvement with another people’s struggle? This is an issue with which I have engaged for some years – a specific problem in relation to historical memory, an interrogation as to what is the appropriate role of the witness, and what is the role of the testimony in the complex passage from experience, to memory, to history.

Waldron, L. 2013. A Dawn Unforeseen. Journey from the West of Ireland to the Barrios of Peru. The Liffey Press, pp. 91-92.



I wrote in 1991 that, if one has witnessed the bodies of the assassinated, the mutilations, the inscriptions of death and torture, as I have, then not only must the gaze not be averted but the life of the observer must be allowed to change. An obligatory commitment to discourse is called into being.7 Through my engagement with the Central American peasant struggles of the 1970s and 1980s, confronted as I found myself to be with the example of Trócaire and other NGOs, of the Irish missionaries, and of Bishop Eamon Casey – who gave evidence not only to us in Ireland, but also to the American bishops – I felt encouraged, compelled even, to testify and bear witness to these violations of human rights by reporting on them and by doing my best to raise my fellow citizens’ awareness of what was going on in Central America and elsewhere. Many of you in this room are firsthand witnesses, and perhaps even some of you are the survivors of the events to which I make reference. My conviction is that your testimonies constitute “the fundamental transition structure between memory and history”.8 As Paul Ricoeur put it, your testimonies are where the making of history begins. They matter greatly. I quote Ricoeur: “We must not forget that everything starts, not from the archives, but from testimony, and that, whatever may be our lack of confidence in principle in such testimony, we have nothing better than testimony, in the final analysis, to assure ourselves that something did happen in the past, which someone attests having witnessed in person”.9 Thus, although the historiographical operation is thoroughly interpretative, it is still possible to speak of the truthfulness of the historian’s account. And this operation has its point of departure in testimony, which lies at the root of every historical archive and documentary proof. “Indeed,” wrote Ricoeur, “it is the force of testimony that presents itself at the very heart of the documentary proof. And I do not see that we can go beyond the witness’s triple declaration: (1) ‘I was there;’ (2) ‘believe me;’10 (3) ‘if you don’t believe me, ask someone else.’ Ought we to make fun of the naive realism of testimony? It can be done.” But “we have nothing better than testimony and the critique of testimony to give credibility to the historian’s representation of the past”.11 That being said, and all the caveats in place, I would like to recall for you just some of the names of the people I met in El Salvador in the early 1980s, and the circumstances through which I became acquainted with them. I do so as a means of paying tribute to these men and women who maintained hope during dark times. Doing so will also allow me to evoke the longstanding bonds of friendship and solidarity between Ireland and El Salvador. Mi primer encuentro con El Salvador y su pueblo fue en octubre de 1978 cuando conocí a Marianella García Villas. Como presidente de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador y primera mujer en acceder a una banca en el Congreso salvadoreño, Marianella visitó Irlanda por invitación de la ONG irlandesa Trócaire y se reunió con miembros del Parlamento irlandés para conversar sobre el agravamiento de la guerra en su país y las consecuentes violaciones a los derechos humanos. 7

Higgins, M. D. 2011. Selected Poems, ‘The Gaze Not Averted,’ Liberties Press, p.123 Ricoeur, P. 2006. Memory, History, Forgetting. The University of Chicago Press, p. 21.


Ibidem, p.147.


According to Ricoeur, the self designation of the testifying subject gets inscribed in an exchange that sets up a dialogical situation. It is before someone that the witness testifies to the reality of some scene of which he was part. This dialogical structure immediately makes clear the dimension of trust involved. The witness does not limit himself to saying “I was there,” he adds “believe me.” When the receiver of the testimony receives it, the testimony is not just certified, it is accredited.


Ibidem, p.278.



[My first encounter with El Salvador and its people occurred in October 1978, when I met Marianella García Villas. As the President of the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador and the first woman elected to the Salvadoran Parliament, Marianella visited Ireland at the invitation of the Irish NGO Trócaire and met members of the Irish Parliament to discuss the intensifying war in her country and related human rights violations. ] I met Marianella again in January 1982, in Mexico City, where she was then living in exile following two arrests by the Salvadoran army. Marianella visited Ireland on a second occasion in 1982, when she was elected vicePresident of the International Federation for Human Rights. This was a year before her torture and death at the hands of the Salvadoran armed forces in March 1983. Around the same time as I had met Marianella, I was contacted by a group of Irish Franciscan priests who were based in the city of Gotera in the Salvadoran department of Morazán – an area that suffered tremendously during the war. These priests provided extensive evidence of major human rights violations in their area and also the first information regarding the role of the then US military establishment in arming and training Salvadoran soldiers located in the nearby parishes. In mid-1979 the families of two of these Franciscans, along with staff from Trócaire, set up the ‘Irish El Salvador Support Committee,’ with whom I maintained close contact for over two decades. This contact with the Franciscans was to prove crucial in relation to the 1981 Mozote massacre, to which I will refer later. In September 1980 I was contacted by Jean Donovan – an American lay missionary who was working in La Libertad in El Salvador. In 1977, Jean had studied for a year in the University College Cork in Ireland, and she was aware from the media of the position I had taken on El Salvador. During our 1980 meeting she described the killings in her area and the number of community leaders assassinated by the infamous ‘death squads’, who were causing such devastation to the Salvadoran population, inculcating such fear. Three weeks later Jean Donovan returned to her community. On 2nd December 1980, together with an Ursuline sister named Dorothy Kazel, she drove to the airport in San Salvador to meet two Maryknoll sisters – Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, who were returning from Managua. The four women were last seen alive driving from the airport down the main road and were stopped by the National Police at a roadblock. Two days later, their bodies were discovered in a makeshift grave about fifteen miles away. Jean was twenty-seven years old. In 1982, I had the privilege to give the keynote address at the Irish launch of the film “Roses in December” documenting Jean’s life and death. On 26th December 1981, shortly after I had organised an inter-parliamentary hearing on El Salvador in Ireland, I got a telephone call from Salvador Samayoa, a former Minister of Education and Professor of Philosophy at the UCA, who was acting at that time as a member of the political commission of the FMLN. Samayoa described a massacre which had taken place on 11th December in the community of El Mozote, Morazán, leaving several hundred people dead. On 10th December, units of the Atlacatl Battalion had detained all the population in the village. Having locked them up in their homes overnight, the following day they deliberately and systematically executed in groups, first the men, then the women, and, lastly, the children. Salvador Samayoa asked me to try and bring a parliamentary delegation from Ireland to investigate these horrific killings. Our delegation spent three days in Mexico, where we met with Marianella García Villas and other exiles, before travelling to San Salvador. On arrival at the airport in El Salvador, we were arrested, questioned and deported to Nicaragua on the basis of an exclusion order signed by General García, the Minister of Defence. This 60

expulsion got great publicity in Central America and in Ireland, and four days later President José Napoleón Duarte issued a press release saying that it was a “misunderstanding” and granting us the right to travel freely within El Salvador to assess for ourselves the human rights situation there. We returned a week after our ‘mistaken exclusion’. The Archdiocese of San Salvador and the Jesuits having offered to provide security for us, we travelled to the war zones in Morazán, Chalatenango and Cabañas, and met with survivors of rural massacres, human rights activists, Members of Parliament, the head of the armed forces, priests and Irish missionaries, notably the Gotera Franciscans and the Poor Clare sisters, who were also working in the Morazán department. We did not manage to get to Mozote, as the road was blocked by the armed forces. But we did meet with Rufina Amaya, one of the few survivors from the massacre, whose husband and four children had been murdered in Mozote. Upon our return to San Salvador, I was interviewed by Raymond Bonner of the New York Times and Alma Guillermoprieto of the Washington Post, who subsequently visited the area, and whose reports shook international public opinion at the end of January 1982. Irish missionaries had managed to obtain photographs of the murder site, and our delegation was able to take this evidence back to Ireland. Back home, we set to the task of challenging official reports that were denying that a mass execution had taken place in El Mozote. A conscious, internationally-led campaign to refute our testimonies got under way and attempts were made to rebut the evidence. Yet years later, and despite these campaigns of denial, the UN Truth Commission found that the Mozote survivors’ accounts were “fully corroborated by the results of the 1992 exhumation of the remains.” And in December 2012 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) found the Salvadoran State to be responsible for the deliberate and targeted killings of over 800 people, over half of whom were children, and stated that “the killings in and around El Mozote were part of a ‘systematic plan of repression’ by the military during the civil war”. I was thus, as you can understand, extremely pleased to hear about President Funes’s historic apology on behalf of the Salvadoran state, in January 2012, in which he referred to El Mozote as the worst massacre of civilians in contemporary Latin American history. This was a truly significant moment in the journey towards truth, and it is something all Salvadorans can be very proud of, as can they be of the protection of the village as a Cultural Heritage site, with its deeply poignant monument to the dead and its Garden of the Innocents, where the names of all the children are inscribed. These are moral gestures of immense significance. I would like, finally, to evoke the memory of the six Jesuits who were brutally murdered on this campus on 16th November 1989 – namely Ignacio Ellacuría, Rector of the UCA and an internationally known philosopher and theologian; Segundo Montes, head of the university’s Sociology Department and Human Rights Institute; Ignacio Martín-Baró, a pioneering social psychologist; Juan Ramón Moreno Pardo and Armando López, theology professors; and Joaquín López Y López, founder of the Fe y Alegría network of schools for the poor. Julia Elba Ramos, a cook and the wife of a caretaker at the UCA, and their sixteen year old daughter, Celina Ramos, were also killed to ensure that there would be no witnesses. I had met Ignacio Ellacuría, and Segundo Montes in January 1982 in San Salvador, together with another of their colleagues, Jon SOBRINO, also one of Central America’s best known theologians.12 The UCA’s monthly reports and statistics on the war were at that time widely recognized as the most credible source of independent information. Jon Sobrino, who also lived on the campus, survived the killing as he had been invited to a theology conference in Thailand.



The Jesuits had close links with Ireland; they valued deeply Irish support for peace in their country. Father Ellacuría had undertaken his Tertianship in Ireland, and Armando López had studied theology in Milltown Park in Dublin. Both were passionately interested in Irish affairs and had attracted Irish Jesuits to work in El Salvador. In 1984 and 1986 Ignacio Ellacuría and Jon Sobrino visited Ireland and gave us a detailed account of the human rights and political situation in El Salvador. Hoy, es para mí un inmenso honor, como Presidente de Irlanda, rendir homenaje a estos seis hombres, la cocinera y su hija. Me conmueve ver que se mantiene vivo su recuerdo en esta universidad donde vivieron y murieron y donde los jesuitas trabajaron por una sociedad más justa e igualitaria. [I am deeply honoured, today, as President of Ireland, to pay tribute to these six men, their cook and her daughter. I am touched to see how they are so vividly remembered in this University, where they lived and died, and where the Jesuits worked for a more equal and just society.] Indeed the UCA Jesuits will be remembered, not only for their tragic deaths, but also and foremost for their deeply felt and passionately argued philosophy which contributed so much to the development of new paradigms for Latin America’s poor. In doing so, I assure you, they were always at risk. I recall the remarks of a high ranking, but ill-informed, foreign observer who was based in San Salvador in 1981 and who, jabbing at a map in front of us, said: “With the Jesuits, it begins with literacy, then it’s co-operatives, but we all know it all ends up with Marxism!”. Let me share with you the wiser and more humane words of a poet: “Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained”. These are the words of my friend, the recently deceased Irish poet and Literature Nobel Prize Laureate, Seamus Heaney. Indeed the long account I have given, of people whose lives were ended in the most brutal manner, would be dispiriting if we did not also acknowledge the transformational power that these lives have had for all of us. The emancipatory promise encapsulated in the lives of the UCA’s Jesuit martyrs, in that of Marianella García, of Jean Donovan, and of so many others who bore the torch of hope at the darkest of times – that emancipatory promise is available, will remain available, for us as an instrument for our present and future. Today, when we speak of human rights, we must do so in the fullest sense, paying attention not just to the crucial concepts of civil and political rights, of that most fundamental right to life and liberty, but also to the economic, social and cultural rights – in essence, to the right to human flourishing. As Pope Francis put it in his letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the G8 meeting convened last June 2013 in Northern Ireland: “Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one’s own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless”.


Pope Francis is speaking a similar emancipatory language to those who gave their lives for a new reality and of those who continue in solidarity with it. In Ireland too, despite our recent economic difficulties, the Irish people continue, both to make generous individual contributions to the development NGOs who support the work of communities in Central America, and to strongly endorse the continuance of Ireland’s overseas aid programme. Working with Salvadoran partners, organizations such as Christian Aid and Trócaire are helping people to find alternative, viable ways of making a living, while also fostering reforestation and other projects which are important for the future. I was delighted to learn that University College Cork and La UCA are to become partners in an important project – AMIDILA – which encourages and supports the mobility of students and scholars between Europe and Latin America, with a special focus on Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. We very much look forward to receiving our first cohort of Salvadoran students at University College Cork. Let me, to conclude, state once more how happy I am to be back to El Salvador, where peace is being made and sustained; where memory is recognised as a tool for the living and as a sure base for the future and where the sacrifice of the six Jesuits, and the two women who died in this University in November 1989 will never be forgotten by those who cherish justice and human dignity. Muchisimas Gracias.


Economic & Trade Lunch hosted by Roberto Murray Meza, Honorary Consul of Ireland San Salvador

Remarks by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

La Universidad Centroamericana, San Salvador, El Salvador Friday, 25th October, 2013

Estimados representantes del Gobierno, Embajadora Hyland, Embajador Romero, Consul Honorario, Sr. Roberto Murray Meza, Señoras y Señores, Me resulta sumamente grato tener la oportunidad de encontrarme con ustedes. Deseo agradecerle, Don Roberto, por reunir a este grupo. También me complace que esté con nosotros Joe Costello TD, el Ministro irlandés cuyas áreas a cargo incluyen comercio y desarrollo. My visit to El Salvador is of great significance to me. It is over 30 years since my first visit and I feel a great affection for this country, and its people. To return as President of Ireland is a great honour, and I very much appreciate President Funes’s invitation to do so. My past visits here were in the context of the dark days of conflict, and of my anxiety at that time to bear witness internationally to the terrible consequences of that violence, and to express solidarity with the people of El Salvador as they envisioned a future of justice and peace. It is a source of great satisfaction to me that I am now returning to a country that has embarked on a journey towards prosperity and peace, with political stability, economic growth and inclusive development as its objectives. Just as I bore witness in the 1980s to dark days, I am equally committed to bear witness now – in my home country and internationally - to the great progress that El Salvador has made. The process of building stability, growth and development is not, of course, a linear one, nor is it easy or without its challenges. We in Ireland know only too well how conflict leaves many painful wounds in its destructive wake. We know from our own peace process in Northern Ireland that these wounds do not heal easily. We also appreciate that building peace and stability is not a single act. It is instead a process that requires strong political will and leadership, as well as a consistent, continuous multifaceted approach that works through tangible measures to address inequalities and marginalisation in society. Progress on stability, growth and inclusion can never be the work of a solitary actor, or a small number of key stakeholders. It is best secured when it involves the widest number of participants from across society. I know that many of you gathered here this afternoon recognise the need for engagement and ideas from a broad range of people and organisations, and that you are active through various means in contributing to a process of dialogue and debate aimed at benefiting all of the citizens of El Salvador. Some of you, including Don Roberto, are I know working closely with government in discussions on what types of policies and legislative safeguards can best support an environment that is conducive to a growth that is sustainable, equitable and inclusive. I very much welcome, and am greatly heartened, to hear of this constructive engagement on these critical themes. While securing broad consensus on policy options is important, it is also valuable to provide the space for the contest of ideas drawn from a genuinely pluralist scholarship and education capable of producing differing models of economy and society and their inter-connection, ones that are also culturally rooted and ethical in 65

purpose. As a former academic, I firmly believe that it is through robust and probing debate that better options present themselves – options which are capable of attracting broad-based support. Whether in Europe, Central America or elsewhere, what is needed is critical thinking and analysis that questions prevailing orthodoxies. We need enquiring, questioning minds; we need openness to alternative models of growth and development; and we need this process of debate to be conducted in a generous spirit of respect for the views of those who may differ from our own perspectives. In short, we need people who are committed to what is, at times, the fragile thread of shared discourse. I encourage you, in your different activities and from your different perspectives, to continue to engage in such a constructive debate. In this context, I was delighted to learn that La UCA, the University of El Salvador and one of our most important academic institutions in Ireland, University College Cork, are to become partners in an important, European-Union funded project – AMIDILA. This project encourages and supports the mobility of students and scholars between Europe and Latin America, with a special focus on Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. I understand that representatives from the UCA and the University of El Salvador are here today. May I tell how much we look forward to receiving our first cohort of Salvadoran students at University College Cork. I have no doubt that their contributions will enrich the dialogue and deepen the relationships between our two countries. Ladies and Gentlemen, One of the lessons of the recent economic crisis in Europe and elsewhere is that you cannot sustain an expanding economy if it is accompanied by growing inequality, or scarred by chronic unemployment and related poverty. Economic growth in and of itself is insufficient if it is not supporting poverty reduction and quality investments that underpin sustainable development and benefit all citizens. I understand that a number of you have visited Ireland, or have made yourselves aware of developments in Ireland, and that you find aspects of our approach to development to be of interest. I do not suggest that Ireland, or the European Union, is a flawless model of best practice. Indeed, it is my view that Ireland and Europe can learn a lot from many parts of Latin America. In Ireland we are, as you know, experiencing the difficult consequences of the global economic and financial crisis. Fiscal adjustment and rebalancing is having a very painful impact on our citizens. We are emerging from the worst of the crisis, and recent predictions suggest GDP growth of 1.8% in 2014 as against 0.2% this year. However we have been bruised by how vulnerable we were not only to the global financial collapse but also to an unhealthy strain of speculation – sourced at home and mainly based on property – that had taken root in our economy. Learning those lessons, we recognise the need to turn away from that failed path, and to ensure that our economic future is based on a sustainable model of talented people, creating valuable goods and services, innovating and connecting to global partners, customers and investors in deeper, more authentic and enduring ways. 66

Our recovery – still in its early days but showing encouraging signs – is supported by factors such as our continued attractiveness as a location for investment, and particularly our strong exports performance. The value of our exports last year exceeded the peaks reached before the economic crisis. Throughout the global economic upheaval of recent years, Ireland has continued to offer a very attractive base for international companies doing business in Europe and the wider region. More than 1,000 global companies have chosen Ireland as their European headquarters, including household names such as eBay, Intel and Facebook. Indeed, Ireland is home to 9 of the world’s top 10 global pharmaceutical companies; over 50% of the world’s leading financial services firms; and 10 of the top “Born on the Internet” companies. In the first half of this year alone, 70 leading international companies established or expanded their operations in Ireland. We in Ireland are fortunate that investment in education over decades means that we have one of the world’s most highly educated, skilled and productive workforces. In a recently published report on education, the OECD notes that Ireland has the highest proportion of 25-34 year olds who have successfully completed thirdlevel education in the European Union, with almost half of all people in this age group completing third level education. That is a great achievement, and one that provides us with a very solid foundation on which to pursue opportunities. However, we are not complacent about the challenges we face. The same OECD report records a disturbing upward trend since 2008 in the numbers of young people in Ireland finding themselves neither employed nor in education, or training. Our young people in Ireland, as in El Salvador, need hope and opportunities. This is the particular challenge that we now face. And in facing this challenge we must pursue better policies and practices which replace speculative opportunism, that only benefits a few, with the pursuit of sound opportunities that are available to all. In doing so, we believe we are offering our young people their best prospects. I know that in El Salvador at present the creation of opportunities for the youth of this country is urgent. Generating jobs so that young people have options other than migration or even, in some cases, criminality, is not so much a policy choice as it is an imperative if this country is to develop in a sustainable and just way. Be assured of our solidarity with you in this important task. Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to note the presence in the audience this afternoon of a number of diplomatic colleagues from EU Embassies. The EU is an important partner in development, and I welcome the fact that the EU’s assistance here is targeted on supporting your work on poverty reduction, social cohesion and sustainable development. This includes support for the Government of El Salvador’s programmes on improved access to basic public services, as well as projects dealing with issues such as gender-based violence and the impact of climate change. Another development of significance is that of the EU-Central America Association Agreement. This Agreement provides a helpful and timely framework; but it is in the implementation of this Agreement that we have the opportunity for meaningful connections, connections which have both economic and societal benefits.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Ireland and El Salvador know of each other but we should get to know each other better. I do not pretend that building deeper partnerships happens quickly but, as I have noted, I feel that there exists an affinity between our two countries and peoples and there is much potential for developing the type of connections from which cultural, educational and trade dividends can flourish. El Ministro Costello y yo esperamos tener conversaciones amistosas en el almuerzo de hoy, pero también esperamos que esta visita - la primera visita de un Presidente de Irlanda a El Salvador - contribuya a lograr un diálogo más profundo y a forjar una amistad duradera en los años que vienen. Muchísimas Gracias. [Minister Costello and I look forward to warm conversations over lunch today, but it is our hope that this visit, the first visit to El Salvador by a President of Ireland, can advance deeper dialogue and friendships in the years ahead. Thank you.]


Lunch hosted by H.E. Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica

Remarks by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

San José, Costa Rica Monday, 28th October, 2013

Distinguida Presidenta de la República de Costa Rica, Sra. Laura Chinchilla Ministros y Embajadores Señoras y Señores, Sabina y yo deseamos expresarles nuestro más sincero agradecimiento por la cálida y generosa hospitalidad que nos han brindado. [Sabina and I wish thank you most sincerely for the warm and generous hospitality which you have extended to us.] Since our arrival in Costa Rica, we have been overcome by the courtesy and generosity of all of those who have made us – and our entire delegation – feel so welcome and at home in your beautiful country. I am truly delighted to have had this opportunity to meet today and to discuss with President Chinchilla the growing relationship between Ireland and Costa Rica and the issues which are of mutual interest and concern to us at this time. Though far apart in geography and climate – other than perhaps our mutual experience of frequent rainfall – Ireland and Costa Rica have many more things in common than separate us. In Ireland we take great pride in knowing that some familiar family names here in Costa Rica such as Amores and Cartín may have their roots in familiar Irish surnames such as Moore, Carthy or McCarthy; reminding us of the rich heritage our two countries share. President Chinchilla, Among the many achievements of which Costa Rica can be proud is its record on female participation in public life, not least your own election as President and the fact that 39% of your Parliament comprises women. It is therefore very apt that the first Ambassadors exchanged between our two countries should be women. I wish to thank Embajadoras Saborio de Rocafort and Hyland for their work to date and wish them well in further advancing relations between our two countries.

President Michael D. Higgins with H.E. Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica at the Presidential Offices in Costa Rica 70

President Chinchilla, friends of Costa Rica and of Ireland, Our talks today have shown how, working together, we can reinforce each other’s goals and objectives as we seek to achieve our mutual aims in respect of climate change and sustainable development, disarmament, human rights, and the delivery of real and inclusive growth for our two peoples. We have an old Irish saying “Ní neart go cur le chéile”: there is no strength without unity. Let us continue to work together for a better, more secure and more equal world. Es un gran honor y un enorme placer proponer este brindis: “Por la Presidenta y por el Pueblo de la República de Costa Rica!” Muchas gracias. [It is both a great honour and a pleasure for me to propose a toast: to Presidenta and the people of Costa Rica. Thank you.]

President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina being presented with flowers by two Coata Rican children while meeting with H.E. Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica at the Presidential Offices in Costa Rica 71

Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century: Reasons For Hope

Address by Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland

Inter-American Court of Human Rights, San José, Costa Rica Tuesday, 29th October, 2013

President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina meeting with Diego Garcia Sayan, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica where President Higgins delivered a speech titled “Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century : Reasons For Hope”

Distinguished President of the Court, Justices, Ladies and Gentlemen I am deeply honoured as President of Ireland to have this opportunity to address you today. Here, in this young institution, which has succeeded in such a brief time in placing itself at the core of international human rights architecture, and which has contributed so much to human rights case law and jurisprudence in its short history, it gives me great satisfaction to consider some of the major questions which challenge all of us, politicians and lawyers, activists and academics, philosophers and administrators, in relation to the exercise of the fundamental rights of the human person at this moment in history. Over sixty years have passed since the end of World War II, that conflict which galvanized the world’s leaders into the reflective debate that culminated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. In Europe, those post-war years saw the emergence of the European Human Rights institutions and instruments – the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights – as well as the stirrings of an economic cooperation. This nascent economic cooperation was rooted in a desire for peace and reconciliation and laid the pathway towards the European Union which we know today and which continues to develop and evolve in an increasingly globalised world. Here, on the American continent, the worldwide reaction to the horrors and excesses of the Second World War found its regional counterpart in the founding of the Organisation of American States (OAS), and its adoption of the OAS Charter and the ‘American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man’ in Bogotá, Colombia in 1948. Although perhaps overshadowed in the perception of human rights discourse by its younger, universal brother, the American Declaration remains one of the great expressions of international human rights principles today; its provisions a source of obligation for all OAS Member States in the promotion and protection of human rights in the hemisphere. 73

In time, of course, that great political expression of the rights of man and the duty of states to protect those rights lead to the ‘American Convention on Human Rights,’ and the establishment of this Court which has done so much to promote the cause of human rights; not just in your region – though your role has been preeminent here – but also through your invaluable contribution to wider debates concerning human rights law and practice. These debates raise many critical questions as we consider how we wish to see our world progress and develop in the twenty-first century. Just as the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were grounded in a vision that had only recently witnessed the moral abyss of the Holocaust, today we need a discourse and practice that continues to evolve to meet the challenges of a changing world. We need a human rights discourse that can deal with issues that are communal as well as individual, that operate within the norm of citizenship and outside of it. We need practices that guarantee that what has been achieved as universal is vindicated through its implementation on an accountable and transnational basis. In doing so, and without abusing the notion of cultural diversity through any relativism that might serve as a cloak for a violation of human dignity or integrity, we might plot our course through the prism of different cultures, themselves in a continuing process of change. Jürgen Habermas has described human rights as the only language in which the opponents and victims of murderous regimes can raise their voices. His is a description that starkly reminds us of how these rights must be so deeply grounded and strongly defended that their universality, indivisibility and inclusiveness can be reiterated and fortified across time and change and generations. The vindication of human rights is best seen as a public project with a participation that reflects such public significance. The project is one that calls for contributions from various sectors in society, and from many disciplines, ranging from law, to philosophy and anthropology. Ireland, like Costa Rica, is a small country proud of its contribution to the development of international humanitarian law and of human rights traditions – a contribution rooted in our shared and passionate belief in freedom. It was here, in San José, that pioneering Salvadoran José Simeón de Cañas successfully advocated for the total abolition of slavery in the newly formed United Provinces of Central America – one of the great moral dilemmas for humanity in the nineteenth century. Throughout Ireland’s complex history runs a strong thread of internationalism and activism. People like the Liberator Daniel O’Connell (best known for securing Catholic Emancipation in Ireland but who also supported the abolition of slavery in the USA during his American lecture tours), and other less known names such as Richard Davis Webb, Richard Allen and James Houghton remind the world of the significant role Irish people played in the international anti-slavery movement of the nineteenth century. The energy and passion of these men brought the great African-American social reformer Frederick Douglass to Ireland for meetings in 1845; a visit which inspired many more Irish men and women – despite their own struggles for freedom – to take up the cause of anti-slavery. In doing so they often had to confront others of their countrymen who, while willing to invoke national independence and seek international support for it, would not lend their voices to denouncing what was a universal scandal. It is remarkable that this outreach of empathy from Ireland towards those who were enslaved in another continent occurred at a time when my country was experiencing the worst cataclysm ever to befall it. The Gorta 74

Mór, the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s, was a moment, in our country’s history, of a great recognition of the common humanity that exists across distance, oceans and cultures and of the manner in which human histories and journeys become entwined and interconnected as they weave a greater moral narrative. Last month marked the sixth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in September 2007. In South America, scholars have recently been rediscovering a little known aspect of the life of Irish revolutionary hero Sir Roger Casement who, in 1911, documented in brutal detail the terrible treatment of the Putomayo’s indigenous peoples by the London-based Peruvian Amazon Company. Casement had also, several years earlier, carried out a similar exposé of the dreadful crimes committed by the rubber companies in the Congo. His passionate humanitarian legacy has more recently been brought to a wider, Spanish speaking audience by Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, whose imagined Casement autobiography, El Sueño del Celta [The Dream of the Celt] so movingly depicts the life and lonely death of this early advocate for the defenceless and the voiceless. The work recently carried out by the Institute for Irish Studies at the University of São Paulo by Dr Laura Izarra and other researchers also gives a whole new significance to Casement’s work and life and the relationship between them. One of the very earliest references in literature to the concept of ‘Crime against Humanity’ can, in fact, be found in Casement’s Putamayo Journal, where he highlights the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of the worst excesses against the Indians by their oppressors. He wrote: “These men have never been punished for the most awful offences against humanity. Not one”. In all of Roger Casement’s writings there is a strong invocation to and a call for adherence to the universal values of respect for human dignity and individual rights, as well as to the development of humane working conditions for people and the absolute need for commercial enterprises to be conducted in an ethical manner. He raised the question of impunity and punishment for grave crimes - the kind we would now consider crimes against humanity. These are issues which remain central to contemporary debate. This debate is nowhere more active than in relation to the area of transitional justice and the complex realities presented by post-conflict situations, where political settlements and compromises may still be fragile. As we in Ireland have learned from our own peace process in Northern Ireland, these are not easy questions to address. The legacy of war leaves many painful issues of truth and memory and there is no easy pathway to the reconciliation of conflicting needs for justice, truth and memory with what is sometimes a brittle political consensus. What may constitute a new departure is the call for resources and their management to become a regular tool of conflict resolution. After all, resources – the control and abuse of them – is at the root of so many

President Michael D. Higgins at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica where President Higgins delivered a speech titled “Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century: Reasons For Hope” 75

conflicts. Why not incorporate them as tools of ensuring what are often fragile peace terms? In their introduction to the impressive collection of essays The Role of Courts in Transitional Justice, Voices from Latin America and Spain, the editors Jessica Almquist and Carlos Esposito, point out that: “The international institutional advances over the last twenty years bear witness to a growing international conviction that grave crime cannot go unpunished and that courts have a crucial role to play in times of transition, including in conflict situations, and to the establishment of the basic conditions for lasting peace in a given country or region”. I wish to deeply commend the work which this Court carries out in relation to such investigation and prosecution of grave crime. In his contribution to the book I have just mentioned, Mr Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade, former President of this Institution, shows how this Court, as well as your sister institution, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, have developed strategies to overcome so many of the obstacles faced by the Court in its search for justice, and how the work of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has contributed to the advancement of the cause of international human rights everywhere. For Justice Cançado Trindade, the current historical process is witnessing the gradual humanization of international law, a new jus gentium for our times, summed up in his outlook and belief that the state exists for the human being and not vice-versa. In this essay and in a related speech made to the European Court of Human Rights in 2004, he looks in particular at the landmark judgements of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, including its significant case law on the fundamental right to life. He references in particular the paradigmatic case of the so-called street children of Guatemala (Villagrán Morales and others v. Guatemala, 1999). In this significant judgement, the fundamental right to life of street children was asserted internationally for the very first time, providing justice for the families of five boys who were tortured and murdered in police custody, and thereby establishing an international precedent regarding treatment of this most marginalized group of human beings. In another historic judgement related to the 1991 Barrios Altos massacre in Peru, this court warned that measures of amnesty, of prescription, or exclusion from responsibility are inadmissible for grave violations of human rights that included torture, summary or extra-legal or arbitrary executions, and forced disappearances, as they violate non-derogable rights recognised by international human rights law. This case law has since been reiterated by the Court with regard to prescription in other well-known judgements, most recently in relation to the El Mozote massacre that took place in Morazán, El Salvador in December 1981. This deeply significant and growing body of case law has resulted in a greatly increased confidence and certainty in relation to the Court’s operation in the face of the many challenges posed to its action in a region where many countries are in post-conflict transition and where various types of transitional justice measures are in place in many states. I am aware, in this regard Sr. Presidente, that in your former capacity as Minister for Justice in Peru, you have also worked on these questions of restorative justice in your home country and, in that capacity, you have also contributed greatly to developing inclusive, respectful approaches to these profound questions. I spoke earlier of Roger Casement and his Amazon journal; yet another of the themes which exercised this great humanitarian so powerfully was the treatment by the rubber companies and their accompanying state security forces of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin. Today, with the intense exploitation of this 76

region’s natural resources by the world’s extractive industries, we find the lands and livelihoods of many indigenous communities being increasingly threatened through potentially dangerous and unsustainable mining and logging practices and we are reminded that community, collective rights and the rights of future generations are at risk. I know that this Court had been to the forefront regarding the protection of the rights of indigenous communities in this part of the world, thus leading the way with regard to a generous and full interpretation of their rights. I note, for example, the Court’s judgement of 27 June 2012 in favour of the Sarayaku Indigenous Community in Ecuador, where it found, in relation to a petroleum exploration project which encroached on the Sarayaku traditional lands, that the state had observed neither the community’s right to be consulted, nor their community property rights or their cultural identity. This judgement, as well as an earlier, related judgement concerning a case in Suriname, is seen as a key milestone for indigenous peoples, in particular as to their right to consultation. Mr President, In addressing your Court today I have placed emphasis in the first instance on those rights which are set out in the UN Conventions and Treaties, and in those regional Conventions which also bind us – i.e. the European Convention on Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights – as these are the questions which you, as an internationally constituted treaty-based Court of Law, must address. I would also, however, like to take some moments for a broader reflection, paying attention not only to the concepts of civil and political rights, to that most fundamental right to life and liberty, but also to the question of economic, social and cultural rights – in essence, to the right of the person to human flourishing. Across the world many countries are slowly beginning to emerge from the shadow of the 2008 economic crisis, and are reflecting on what has been learned and on how, in the future, we can build societies and economies on a more equitable, sustainable model than the one of unbridled speculation which has resulted in so much distress and hardship for so many peoples in recent times. We are challenged to specify the possibilities, the constraints and indeed the contradictions that may arise when we are asked to put our Human Rights rhetoric to the test within economic frameworks, some of which may be unaccountable. Already, many countries in Latin America are leading the way in showing how governments can, through well targeted social programmes, reduce inequalities and provide people with access to education, healthcare and a social safety net, enabling millions to achieve better standards of living and making an enormous difference to economic growth. In the last twenty years, millions of Latino Americans have crossed key poverty thresholds, with many moving out of poverty and into fuller participation in society. The success of these programmes is a tribute to the vision and strength of leadership in the region, and an inspiration to those elsewhere who are struggling to find new paradigms for how to grow and develop their society, provide decent work for all, particularly for our young people, and how to promote the development of the creative energies and full human potential of our citizens. Here, in Costa Rica, this leadership has been shown most particularly in relation to climate change and sustainable development. We increasingly experience the serious effects of climate change, surely the biggest and most intractable of all the global challenges facing the contemporary world. The Central American region, 77

President Michael D. Higgins meeting with Diego Garcia Sayan, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica where President Higgins delivered a speech titled “Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century: Reasons For Hope”

with its myriad of delicate ecosystems, its fragile and unusual geography, and its many rare and irreplaceable life forms, is unfortunately, and often literally, in the eye of the storm. It is inspiring to see that Costa Rica is now recognized globally as the leader in green economic development, with innovative programmes like the Payments for Environmental Services which has contributed significantly to reforestation and biodiversity conservation. I applaud Costa Rica’s declared intention to become the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021. When achieved, this will mark yet another green first for this country, once again showing the world that, no matter the obstacles, nothing is beyond our creative capacities once the realization of human potential through social inclusion and quality education becomes a lived reality in society. In Ireland the debate on human rights and climate change was a key focus for our Presidency of the European Union during the first six months of this year 2013. We are keenly aware of our responsibilities as citizens of this planet, and our obligation to ensure that those who are most vulnerable, and who have contributed least to global warming, are not left to bear the consequences alone. Last year, a story by Simeón Tegal, funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, caught the attention of the world’s media. It described how a tiny rise in the sea levels in the Bajo Lempa region of western El Salvador since 2005 had seen the Mangroves, on which the community of La Tirana depends to survive, literally vanish into the sea. Further up the Coast, Tegal interviewed a woman farmer, Herminia Arqueta, who had seen her harvest destroyed by the flooding caused by the severe tropical depression of October 2011. This woman told Tegal that her community can no longer differentiate between the seasons, reminding us that climate change cannot remain a subject for scholarly debate in scientific journals. It is a reality which affects the lives of many, impacting most harshly on those most vulnerable to its effects. For them, the cataclysmic effects forecast recently by the World Bank if current emissions levels are allowed to continue, are already present.


There are however reasons to maintain hope. As the UN approaches the 2015 milestone for the achievement of its Millennium Goals, there is a renewed focus on the delivery of our promises and commitments to overcome poverty and injustice, and to assist those most affected by changes in climate. As we face the growing challenges of climate change, Costa Rica continues to be at the vanguard of change, remaining a positive role model and a testament to inclusive growth. Resilience is a word that has come to my mind again and again during my visit to Central America. Your region of the world has suffered much, both in the distant and recent past, and it would be facile to underestimate the many challenges which you continue to face. Yet everyone I meet greets me with warmth, energy and hope for the future. In Ireland also we have experienced many setbacks in recent times. Nevertheless, we have also experienced a great spirit of hope and determination as people have come together to find imaginative solutions to our current difficulties. This spirit of renewal has caused us to reflect more deeply on the importance of sustainable development and human rights as the cornerstones of a caring and flourishing society. Ireland was honoured last year to be elected for the first time to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the period 2013-2015. We are deeply privileged to serve on the Council and regard this as a further opportunity to ensure that concern for human rights and their protection remains at the core of our foreign policy. We have, therefore, many reasons for hope as evidenced by the impressive work that is being done in this Chamber, and in this region more generally, to meet the great challenges for human rights presented by the legacy of the troubled recent past in Latin America and the Caribbean. Yes it is true that human rights everywhere are contested, many challenges remain, and yet their potency and legitimacy continues to grow and develop, as the work of this Court so tellingly demonstrates. This is the practiced work of hope and the legacy of those who build it – the kind of hope that Václav Havel spoke about when he said: “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out”. Here in this chamber, you are working to deliver justice and remedies in a way that makes sense, that is intergenerational in its aims, and that will truly contribute to the realization of the vision of those men and women who sought in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to create the promise of a different future for the next generation. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man states that: “All men are born free and equal, in dignity and in rights, and, being endowed by nature with reason and conscience, they should conduct themselves as brothers to one another”. In the spirit of that statement, as brothers and sisters who continue to travel in hope, I wish you every success as you continue to realise the aspirations of your founders and turn them into lived realities as we seek together to make this world a more just and inclusive place for the generations that come after us. Thank you


Áras an Uachtaráin, D08 E1W3 @PresidentIRL