For immediate release: August 8, 2019
Contact: Deborah M. Piroch
(Front Royal, VA ) From Wednesday 26 to Friday 28 June 2019, the Organization of American States (OAS) held its 49th General Assembly in Medellin, Colombia. Human Life International (HLI) participated at the annual OAS General Assembly event as a CSO, as it has done for many years. HLI is the largest coalition present at the OAS and our aim, as always, is to advocate for life and family, in accordance with principles of Catholic-oriented natural law.
Noteworthy is that this OAS General Assembly commemorated the 50th anniversary of its American Convention of Human Rights of 1969. The OAS theme governing the session was: “Innovating to Strengthen Hemispheric Multilateralism.”
By way of explanation, those present at the OAS are the ambassadors of the OAS Member States, which are the countries that are part of the hemisphere of America; the OAS officials; the national and international media correspondents; and the representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), like HLI, in the continent.
HLI Colombia developed a strong network of collaborators in country in order to form an HLI coalition of CSOs that would be present at the OAS event. Additionally, HLI also always reaching out to its affiliates and collaborators from the other countries on the continent to join the HLI coalition. To all, HLI provided CSO registration assistance at the OAS event. In the end, the HLI CSO coalition was the largest CSO coalition that was present at this OAS event, with over fifty CSOs from the four OAS sub-regions: North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. With its coalition name ‘HLI CSO Coalition for Human Development’, HLI places the dignity of the human person at the center and reason for all government endeavors that are directed towards growth and advancement in a country.
For this 2019 OAS General Assembly in Colombia, HLI worked with HLI Colombia, known as the “Foundation Culture of Human Life” (in English), presided over by Gladys Amaya. Gladys also presides the National Commission of Laity of the Colombia Catholic Conference of Bishops and actively participates in other Catholic-oriented civic institutions in the country, plus hosts a weekly program on Radio Maria Colombia.
HLI also works closely with its affiliates and collaborators in the country site of an OAS event. HLI Latin America Regional Director Mario Rojas served as HLI’s CSO representative at the OAS event, with Gladys Amaya as the HLI CSO Co-Representative. I, Marlene Gillette-Ibern, HLI OAS Program Coordinator and attorney, represented the CSO Guadalupe Center for Life and Family, which is HLI Puerto Rico. Mexican attorney Luis Martinez, who serves as the HLI OAS Program Auxiliary Coordinator, represented the CSO Foundation Commitment for the Protection of Minors established in Mexico, also collaborating with HLI.
In addition to its participation at the OAS event for CSOs, HLI held a two-day seminar on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 June 2019, with speakers mostly from Colombia, but also from Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Puerto Rico. The HLI seminar was held at the Pontifical Catholic Bolivarian University in the country, with full support from the university officials. Radio Maria Colombia provided much support, with live transmission in full of the HLI two-day seminar. The Pontifical Catholic Bolivarian University, together with HLI and HLI Colombia, issued a joint certificate of participation to the attendees; for the college students present, the certificates will help them to obtain college credits.
On the first day of the seminar, the issues covered were those related to this OAS General Assembly and to the OAS American Convention of Human Rights. On the second of the seminar, the life and family principles were presented from the perspective of Catholic-oriented bioethics, in an effort to show that life and family proposals can find its rationale in bioethics. Also, HLI had an exhibition table with its printed educational materials for distribution among the attendees, which disappeared before the end of the first day of the HLI seminar!
Among the most important talks at the HLI seminar, were those on the theme of this OAS General Assembly. Mario Rojas explained the theme of this OAS event. Through ‘innovation’, the OAS expressed a desire for changes in the manner that treaties between OAS Members States are carried out, which will ‘strengthen’ their ‘multilateral’ commitment to the goals laid out. Luis Martinez further explained that multilateral agreements between countries is one of the methods outlined in the United Nations (UN) sustainability documents, in order to solidify global commitment to UN directives on demographic control by means of anti-life and anti-family initiatives, all of which is now known as the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In order to cover all of the related the issues as much as possible, the HLI seminar was held from 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM every day. Even though that Monday was a holiday in Colombia, and that Tuesday was a working day, between 100 and 150 people steadfastly attended the two-day seminar, paying much attention and taking notes of the points made by the speakers.
There is a moving anecdote to be told, related to the impact of the HLI seminar on the attendees. At the end of the seminar’s first day, HLI staff went to dinner at an outdoor restaurant, where a band of local singers entertained guests. At another table, there were several attendees who recognized the HLI staff, who then paid the singers to serenade the HLI table!
During HLI participation at the OAS events, Gladys Amaya presented the Honorable Alejandro Ordonez, the Ambassador of Colombia at the OAS, with a letter from HLI and a binder with the summaries of the HLI seminar talks, for which he was very grateful.
The next day, on Wednesday 26 June, at the OAS event for CSO representatives, HLI CSO co-representative Gladys Amaya read the HLI coalition statement before all OAS ambassadors, OAS officials, media correspondents, and other CSOs present, which included many anti-life and anti-family CSO representatives. The HLI coalition statement read, in part:
Daily, the OAS seeks agreements between Member States on matters on common interest and common impact, through multilateralism, in the American continent. Yet, to seek consensus between persons who have radically opposed ideas will not lead to institutional perfection, nor to economic development, nor to social progress in the country. Consensus always end in failure for all sides.This is because an agreement must start out with a basic understanding about authentic human rights, which can only be found in natural law. Given that fundamental human rights are inherent and indestructible in the human person, these must be respected and valued, beginning with the right to life from conception to natural death. By starting with that primary human right, one discovers all other rational human rights…..Therefore, there could be no consensus about laws in favor of abortion, nor laws in favor of alleged same sex marriages or same sex families, nor even with the imposition, on faith-based institutions, of regulations against their values, among other measures. We are aware that this dialogue has, as its goal, the true welfare of the human person. Yet an honest dialogue requires being open to the truth.
Additionally, during that time, HLI was asked to participate at a three-day conference on the OAS organized by the Catholic Crusade Cultural Center, an HLI Colombia collaborator. Mario Rojas, Luis Martinez, and Gladys Amaya served as the HLI speakers at its conference, on a day solely dedicated to HLI.
During those days as well, HLI held a media conference at the Pontifical Catholic Bolivarian University, with the support of its communications and media division. Led by Mario Rojas, Luis Martinez, and Gladys Amaya, they responded to questions from Catholic media journalists in Colombia regarding HLI coalition work at the OAS event, stating Catholic clergy and laity must persevere in presenting life and family issues before both the OAS and Colombian government.
HLI also granted many interviews and assisted the press:
- Mario Rojas and Gladys Amaya appeared on a program led by host and professor Beatriz Campillo on Radio UPB of the Pontifical Catholic Bolivarian University.
- Adolfo Castaneda, Director of Hispanic Outreach at HLI Miami, invited Mario Rojas together with Marlene Gillette-Ibern and Luis Martinez, on EWTN Spanish Radio which airs globally via radio and the internet.
- Luis Martinez was asked to contribute an article on the OAS event for publication in the Diocese of Medellin weekly newspaper, which he titled: “The Mustard Seeds Planted at the OAS.”
- HLI assisted Catholic media correspondents in Colombia in obtaining OAS media credentials in order to cover the OAS event, which included Radio Maria Colombia, Radio Pallotti Colombia, and Radio UPB in Colombia.
- HLI’s Latin America weekly program on EWTN’s Spanish radio also obtained media credentials, as well as the HLI Latin America bi-weekly digital newsletter.
During the remaining two days of the OAS event, on June 27 -28, HLI remained as a CSO observer. This allowed HLI to follow the debates between the OAS ambassadors and OAS officials on several issues where life and family principles could be adversely affected.
A few ambassadors from countries where there are still pro-life and pro-family governments in place, embedded reservations regarding the language. But this is not enough. It is important governments not adopt any resolutions containing language that, can, under subsequent government administrations, be adopted in full by withdrawal of the reservations. HLI always encourages its coalition CSO members from different countries, to approach their ambassadors and ask them to not support those harmful resolutions. HLI assists in providing its CSO members with the arguments needed to refute anti-life and anti-family ideology; it is very clear OAS ambassadors are constantly bombarded by these ideology proponents.
The 50th OAS General Assembly will be held in June 2020 in Bahamas. HLI is already working on its CSO participation, along with its collaborators in the Caribbean, to attend. We plan to hold an HLI seminar in Bahamas as accompaniment to the OAS event. The ultimate aim is to expand pro-life advocacy and affiliates in both the Bahamas and other countries of the Caribbean region.
We are deeply grateful to God, and to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, for the saintly success of our HLI work at the OAS and in Colombia. We could not carry out this work without our supporters, who are part of our HLI family. We also want our HLI OAS program, as well as our HLI UN program, to provide our supporters with an understanding of the regional and international issues related to life and family that are at stake.