Nobel Peace Prize laureates arrive in Merida for World Summit

Dignitaries greeted at airport by state officials

Guatemalan human rights activist Rigoberta Menchú Tum is greeted by Yucatan's General Secretary Maria Fritz at the start of the Nobel Peace Summit. Photo: Courtesy
After landing at the Merida airport, Guatemalan human rights activist Rigoberta Menchú Tum is greeted by Yucatan General Secretary Maria Fritz Sierra ahead of the Nobel Peace Summit. Photo: Courtesy

Merida, Yucatan — Dozens of Nobel laureates have arrived to take part in the world summit devoted to world peace.

The sprawling four-day event begins today and is an opportunity for local officials to present Yucatecan culture, old and new, in a global spotlight.

But the summit’s main thrust is promoting global harmony.

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For the 1992 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Guatemalan human rights activist Rigoberta Menchú Tum, the summit not only sends a message of hope, but also “an active peace, that builds up,” she told reporters when arriving at the Manuel Crescencio Rejón airport.

Menchú was received by state General Secretary María Fritz Sierra, as well as representatives of the media.

In a brief interview, the indigenous leader ruled out rumors that it was she who had proposed Merida as the venue for such a prestigious event. She said it was the idea of ​​several winners.

“I think it was two events ago that they wanted to come to Mexico and it was done thanks to the governor, because authority is also important. Thanks to Merida and Mexico, because without Mexico hosting the summit it would have been very difficult,” she said.

When asked about her expectation of the event, the activist underscored the importance of having a group of peacemakers gather in the same space.

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Menchú will address indigenous issues, leading workshops on human mobility, migration and youth.

“We are going to have some workshops, we are going to have time to talk to the press, we are very grateful for the expectation that has been generated and we recognize the effort to bring everyone together,” said Menchú. “What an honor to receive here the proponents of peace from around the world. ”

Another honored guest, Dr. Ira Helfand, was received at the airport by the secretary of health, Mauricio Sauri Vivas. Helfand is a representative of the International Association of Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, an organization that received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Helfand arrived from Springfield, Massachusetts.

He was accompanied by Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, former Colombian president and present-day Harvard professor. He was the sole recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts negotiating a peace treaty with FARC-guerrilla rebels.

Among other Peace Prize laureates in Merida are former presidents Frederik Willem de Klerk from South Africa; José Ramos Horta from East Timor; Lech Walesa from Poland and Lord David Trimble, first minister of Northern Ireland.

Shirin Ebadi, first female jurist in Iran; Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist who helped to end a civil war; and Tawakkol Karman, Yemeni human rights activist and founder of Women Journalists Without Chains, are also on the agenda.

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