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Crafting Costa Rica’s Commitment to Peace with Mother Earth

By Ruth Broyde Sharone


“Will the planet die before I do, Mommy?”

Grace Benson, between Mona Polacca and Mama Grande

Grace Benson, between Mona Polacca and Mama Grande

Stunned silence followed when nine year-old Grace’s innocent question was repeated by her mother during a working session of a Peace Summit held in San Jose, Costa Rica, last December.

Young Grace’s pungent question of global survival hung in the air in the University of Peace meeting hall. Susana Marley Cunningham, a leader from the Miskito people of Nicaragua – known as Mama Grande for her girth and her powerful presence – rose to her feet. Asking the group of twenty-five to form a large prayer circle, Mama Grande brought Grace’s parents into the middle. She took their hands and prayed fervently that the evil spirits who planted that negative question in young Grace’s mind be cast out forever and destroyed.

Francisco Ortiz, initiator of Day One, embraces Mona Palacca, of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers

Francisco Ortiz, initiator of Day One, embraces Mona Palacca, of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers

It was a sobering moment for all of the delegates. They realized that Grace’s question was not far-fetched, given the latest scientific information about drastic climatic changes and the inability of governments and environmental organizations to take significant counter-measures at recent world gatherings in Rio de Janeiro and Doha, Qatar. For this very reason Francisco Ortiz, founder of the Fundacion Gaia, organized this Peace Summit. Teaching Yoga to indigenous peoples for years built up the initial trust level that allowed the participants to gather and craft a foundational document for humankind.

Francisco shared that his passion to create the Peace Summit was inspired by a vision 30 years earlier during his honeymoon in the U.S., when he felt he was given a “holy assignment” to help develop a new consciousness  about humanity’s relationship with Mother Earth. The recurring mantra he heard for 30 years was “Day One,” but at the time, he confessed, he did not understand the meaning of the phrase. Only in the last few years did his mission become clear, and suddenly Day One came to mean the first day after the Mayan calendar would end and a new era would begin.

The Summit’s agenda included signing a Proclamation of Costa Rica for Peace with Mother Earth, drafting a document to introduce the Proclamation to the United Nations, and presenting the Proclamation to the government of Costa Rica, which has endorsed it. Performances, ceremony, and a parade punctuated the event.

Working sessions brought together a wide variety of participants, including indigenous representatives from the eight tribes of Costa Rica, indigenous guests from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Mexico, and the “nonindigenous tribe” known as “The Whites.” A delegation from the United States included Mona Polacca, representing the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, Brooke Hopkins, who served as a key organizer for the Summit, Samantha Sweetwater, founder of Dancing Freedom, Laurie and Joel Benson of Holistic Effect, and representatives from the International Human Rights Consortium. The proclamation itself was signed on December, 11, 2012.

A strategic session considers promoting the Proclamation.

A strategic session considers promoting the Proclamation.

Local lawyers and the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights of Costa Rica helped with the legal language of the document going to the U.N., working with Indigenous leadership to ensure the proposed Resolution would reflect Indigenous values.

Subsequently December 21, 2012, the end of the much-misinterpreted Mayan Calendar and Day One of a new cycle of consciousness, witnessed historic activities in Costa Rica. Day One began with the inauguration of a stone and grass labyrinth, designed by local architect Ronald Esquivel. Participants paused at the center of the labyrinth, many praying on their knees in gratitude.

Prayers at the center of the Labyrinth.

Prayers at the center of the Labyrinth.

They then joined a 30-minute procession along the crowded streets of downtown San Jose to the Presidential Palace to deliver the Proclamation for Peace with Mother Earth. The first electric car in Costa Rica led the procession, followed by Indigenous tribal representatives, Summit participants, children with their drawings and love letters celebrating the Earth, and local supporters – about 100 in all.

Vice President Alfio Piva Mesen received the Proclamation “for the sake of my grandchildren and their children” and on behalf of the government which has endorsed it. In so doing Costa Rica became the first country formally committing to become carbon-neutral within a nine-year period.

That night participants gathered to take part in a special fire ceremony led by Mama Andrea Herrera, an Ecuadorian shaman, who invited all to give prayers and blessings commemorating the new era of unity and collaboration.

A film of the Peace with Mother Earth 2012 Summit is in production.

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Proclamation of Costa Rica for Peace with

Mother Earth 2012

Whereas humanity faces a profound crisis due to the degradation of the environment as a consequence of our disconnection from Mother Earth;

Knowing that to find a solution to this crisis, a union is necessary between the knowledge contributed by contemporary science and the wisdom contributed by the ancestral tradition of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples;

Recognizing that the people of Costa Rica have demonstrated that they are peace-loving, respectful of human rights and responsible in their relationship with nature;

Being that the Indigenous Peoples of Costa Rica, the brother Indigenous People of the Miskitos and members of civil society that have signed the Peace Agreement with Mother Earth are driving an alliance with the municipal system and Government of Costa Rica to make it a nation with an inclusive, sustainable and carbon-neutral development model by the year 2021;

Accepting that Mother Earth is a living being, that all forms of life are subjects under the law and that sustainability and the mitigation of negative effects from climate change will only be achieved with the active participation of all its inhabitants;

We invite all individuals, other Indigenous Peoples and Tribes, organizations, businesses and the international community to join with signatories in promoting and carrying out the following actions:

FIRST. Endorse the following Peace Agreement with Mother Earth:

I choose here and now, freely and consciously, to make peace with Mother Earth and to do what I must to live sustainably; to know, minimize and compensate my carbon footprint and to have Costa Rica reach the state of Carbon-Neutral Nation.”

SECOND. Invite those who endorse the Peace Agreement to know, minimize and compensate their carbon footprint in their respective countries, or through the entities dedicated to this end in Costa Rica, regardless of their place of residence, such that the investment is used to achieve the goal proposed by the Costa Ricans so that other nations follow its example.

THIRD. Designate December 21st Day One, in honor of the traditional wisdom of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, for the necessary reconnection with Mother Earth.

FOURTH. Every year on Day One carry out the following activities:

1. Deliver to Governments the list of those signing the Peace Agreement as the contribution and commitment of the local and international community to the goal of carbon neutrality

2. Ask the Heads of State to support and promote the draft legislation necessary for reaching the goal proposed in each Nation.

3. Hold a fire ceremony of encounter and reconciliation that honors, welcomes, supports, values and promotes the cultural diversity of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, ethnic groups and cultures that inhabit each Nation. 

4. Share a prayer for inner peace similar to the one to be held in Costa Rica:

Knowing that I am evolution, that I am the purpose of life and that I am the Earth; knowing that I am consciousness, that I am life and I am humanity; Recognizing that I am responsible for what happens, that I am the hope and I am the answer; I choose here and now, freely and consciously, to do what I must to make peace with my essential nature, becoming the person I want to be, constructing the life I want to live, and making life on Mother Earth sustainable. Because there will only be peace on Earth if I am at peace. So it is.”

FIFTH. In our name and in the name of our ancestors, we signatories invite the rest of the world to declare December 21st of 2012 the first day of a new Era of unity and peace with Mother Earth, conceived as a living and conscious being of which we all form part.

Because we, the members of this alliance, and the men and women of good will of all peoples and cultures, are those for whom we have been waiting. And because this is the day our ancestors told us of.

In addition, we signatories declare ourselves members of a new nation without borders: the Nation of Mother Earth, and we invite the rest of the world to participate in this alliance, so that one day all of the Earth’s inhabitants can cry out together, beyond our diversity: