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08 / 05 / 2004
Federico Mayor Zaragoza says Porto Alegre is the hope for a better world

Former UNESCO Secretary General and current president of Fundació Cultura de la Pau (Culture for Peace Foundation), Federico Mayor Zaragoza, opened the first conference of the 4th Forum of Porto Alegre Local Authorities for social inclusion this morning. The conference is being held at Forum Barcelona 2004 on May 7 and 8. Mayor Zaragoza announced that Agenda 21 for Culture will be “an essential reference for future cultural and social reflection.”

Federico Mayor Zaragoza quoted four Catalan poets—Salvador Espriu, Miquel Martí i Pol, Jordi Massip, and Joan Maragall—during his reflections on freedom; a global perspective of society; the public’s involvement; and, the human scale of cities (large and small) city centers, and outskirts.

As Espriu wrote, “people are not people unless they are free” and this freedom “is only possible through education.” According to Mayor Zaragoza, education means “giving people the freedom to make decisions freely in a collective space, the city, which is the foundation of true democracy.”

Mayor Zaragoza criticized the concept of “preventive war” and stated that we need “education to listen and understand; to be free and show solidarity; to be aware of the world’s global situation, keeping in mind the memory of the past and, above, all, the memory of the future; to be able to switch freely between local and universal issues, public and private spheres, identity and diversity.” Mayor Zaragoza stated that Barcelona “is in the midst of an extraordinary period thanks to the foundation of this association of cities throughout the world—whose permanent headquarters are located in the Catalan capital—, the Forum of Porto Alegre Local Authorities conference, and the Universal Forum of Cultures – Barcelona 2004.” According to Mayor Zaragoza, “Barcelona could be the ideal city for keeping a world register of citizenship for those citizens who, aside from having a home town, also wish to be citizens of the world.”

Mayor Zaragoza began the second part of his speech with the following line by Martí i Pol “who are we if not all…” In his opinion, “we must join our voices if we wish to be heard.” He added that Porto Alegre “is the chance for a different world.” As sung by Antonio Machado, “if you want to be universal, love your people”. Mayor Zaragoza continued by stating that humans “are all different and all the same.” He referred to the first article of the Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “we are all born equal and free.” Mayor Zaragoza insisted that we are at the dawn of the age of media and new technology and, consequently, live “in a period of both culturalization and deculturalization—today, more than ever, each of us needs to comprehend, co-llaborate and co-habit with the rest of the world.”

Mayor Zaragoza called for citizens to be more active, involved and educated and alluded to the words of Jordi Massip, “when you return, may the hours not find you docile.” The need for a culture of commitment is, in the eyes of Mayor Zaragoza, a need of our times. He added that “Agenda 21 for Culture” sets the pace for a new path. He expressed his satisfaction about the fact that the Forum of Porto Alegre Local Authorities is being held as a prelude to the inauguration of Forum Barcelona 2004. “A different world is possible. That is why we need a new social, environmental, cultural and ethical contract.”

As Jordi Maragall’s poem reads, “Man I am and human is my size”. Mayor Zaragoza followed this quote by stating that “culture is the primary monument of the human race” and delighted over the fact that this is precisely the goal of Universal Forum of Cultures – Barcelona 2004.