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World March Blog
2 November 2009

Mariella

It’s 7:30 in the morning and through my window I can see the yellow, orange and green woods of the Swedish coastline.  Small houses and sailing boats are just a few metres away; it’s as if we were by a small lake in the south of Chile.

Mariella is a great Viking Line ship that, together with 1500 other passengers, is carrying us from Helsinki, Finland to Stockholm, Sweden.  Yesterday we finished our memorable stay in Helsinki in which we had a press conference, a very friendly interview with President Tarja Halonen, a great March through the centre of the city and a cultural event in which many of the best Finnish artists wanted to express their closeness to the project of a World without Violence, and performed voluntarily and with great enthusiasm.

The President, from the first moment, spoke of her closeness with Chile.  Upon mentioning Human Rights, she brought up her past support for Allende, of the struggle against Pinochet’s dictatorship, of her adventures in Santiago in 1979 when she visited in representation of the World Trade Union Movement and of course on seeing the repression in the event of the workers where she was invited she was hidden in a pre-planned café and secreted away from there while writing to other Governments about it.  And her admiration for Michelle Bachelet and women who govern.

When Alexander spoke about Coast Rica as a country without an army she reacted strongly saying that they had no army but they had a hard police force.  It sounded to us like an excuse to not go into the issue and ask about her army and the debated issue in Finland about possible entry of the country into NATO.  In spite of this, we left equally happy, Tarja Halonon understood our Spanish and attempted a few words in our language.  She was extremely friendly, fully supported the March and insinuated that upon leaving the office of President she would love to actively join this sort of campaign and activity.

We have tried to present Juha Uski as the main man in each event we’ve done in Finland.  The truth is that Juha has done fantastic preparation, a top job that started a year ago.  And the enthusiasm of our visit produced in many levels, in Peace organisations, in the groups of Amma who were a great help in the activities, in the people who saw the flyers and appeared in the event or in the March, this enthusiasm remains as possible actions in the future, as people who are keen to be active and nothing better than mark a very strong reference towards the people of the country or the organisations of the country that put everything together.  The March is a group of volunteers who fundamentally support and strengthen the work that the people have been doing in every country that receives the March.  Juha now has very many contacts (as he says, in all levels from the farmers of Savonlinna to the President), and a future full of possibilities has opened in this beautiful Nordic country.

Well, the rays of the morning sun brighten the autumnal tones that continue to pass my window on the 7th floor of the Mariella.  Small beacons on rocks can be seen from time to time.  The people enter the restaurant for breakfast, which reminds me that I’m hungry (I won’t mention the buffet dinner last night, I feel that I’ve gained the 5 kilos I lost in the last month in Asia).  We organised to meet at 8 am for breakfast and then to go on deck to take a group photo.  This trip by boat is an oasis of pleasure in a journey that has been more of a sacrifice and tiring than pleasant, but it has led us to find pleasure in action and in the connection with the people of each place, that has been, in spite of external difficulties, extremely growing and transforming.  I call it an incomparable “inner experience”.

A hug to all those who follow our adventures, I hope to upload photos when I have access to good wifi.

Micky Hirsch

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