Doctor Arias speaks on peace

By on November 13, 2003

Doctor Arias, the former president of Costa Rica and a 1987 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, presented a lecture sponsored by the Albert Schweitzer Institute and Latin American Studies, on the peace dividend to Quinnipiac University on Nov. 5.

David Ives, director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, was pleased and anxious to have Doctor Arias here at Quinnipiac to speak.

“He is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met,” said Ives.

Arias, polished in a suit and tie, spoke to the Quinnipiac student body in Alumni Hall, where his microphone belted out his true passion for peace.

“Where is this world going?” Arias questioned. “Violence keeps spreading in Africa and in the Middle East and what is being done?”

Arias’ lecture focused on today’s world leaders and what they need to do to help ease violence, poverty and anguish.

“It’s a leadership crisis when the wealth of our world is dispersed only amongst the few,” he said. “The leadership is devastating. Perhaps the most horrible type of corruption is not only the lack of leadership action, but telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to know.”

Terrorism was also a topic that surfaced within Arias’ lecture.

“Taliban, Al Qaeda, terrorists,” Arias said. “Today we’re all confronted with this terrorism. Even in communistic cultures, terrorism has taken the place of communism.”

Alongside terrorism, Arias transitioned his speech onto the developed world.

“The developed world is decreasing, while the developing world is increasing,” he said. “In 2001, the UN population figures proposed that in 2050, 1.2 billion people will live in developed countries and the estimated 4.9 billion people that live in developing countries will increase to 8.2 billion in number.”

Although economically distraught, Arias sees hope for our world.

“I hope this world will one day use its economic and scientific tools of society to create that perfect world,” he said. “Free trade is an important item for the development of poor countries, giving access to markets of wealthy nations. Industry is the main source of wealth and destruction. It brings in $325 billion per year, makes $1 million per day, and spends only $55 billion a year. Yet only if it would give some money to small, poverty-stricken countries that can’t compete with their power.”

Arias approaches the idea of aiding smaller countries as doable.

“We need to commit to a simple plan today to develop and rebuild poor countries. Health care, education, and sanitation can be covered with only a small shift in bigger countries’ spending. I do believe free trade helps poor countries with inequality, for if we have access to developed US markets and economies, we can improve our social and economic situations through exploiting our goods instead of our people.”

The idea of atomic destruction also arose within Arias’ moving speech.

“The UN statistics prove that in 1990, 1 million people lost their lives from small arms; many were children. Inevitably, more arms don’t produce more security; they create more violence, more fear, and more deaths. We need more restrictive international code of conducts through the Arms Trade Treaty.”

Arias concluded his lecture to Quinnipiac stating, “My dedication extends from my experience within Costa Rica. I believe that there is a possibility for a better future through faith, effort, perseverance, and your own ability. I still have great hope that this next generation will accept a world of more values and ideals, faith and compassion, selflessness and unification…in short, a world with more love.”


About Kristin Kroha