Baha'is support International Peace Day in Puerto Rico

1 November 2002

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Baha'i community of Puerto Rico gave active support to International Peace Day celebrations here on 1 November 2002.

Specifically, Baha'is participated in three events for the Day, which is an observance created by the Puerto Rican legislature. The events included a "Harmony for Peace" celebration at the botanical gardens in San Juan; a "Walk for Peace" in Rio Piedras; and a "Commitment for Peace" rally in San Juan's central park.

The activities were organized by the Coalition against Family Violence, with support from various other civic and humanitarian organizations, including the Baha'is, said Jenice Ayala, a spokesperson for the Baha'i community of Puerto Rico.

"The Baha'is of Puerto Rico had a very active role in the organization of these three activities," said Ms. Ayala. "These events involved all sectors of society, including political leaders, students of all ages, and religious leaders. Our goal was to help create an atmosphere for all of these activities that would be one of complete tolerance, respect, and love for one's neighbor."

The first event, "Harmony for Peace", brought together political leaders and young students, who called for peace in Puerto Rico and in the world.

Among the speakers was Yolanda Zayas, the Secretary of Family Affairs in Puerto Rico, who said that in order to achieve peace work must begin in the nuclear family and called for reflection on what every individual might contribute to create a world in harmony. The activity ended with an artistic presentation by the chorus of the University of Puerto Rico.

The second activity, designated "Walk for Peace," saw public and private school students walk along the streets of the Rio Piedras section of San Juan to the Puerto Rico Art Museum.

At the museum, David Kalantar of the Baha'i community of Puerto Rico acted as master of ceremonies. One feature of the event was a "conversation" for peace among young people.

"As a student and as the future of my country I understand that we are all here with the same purpose, peace," said Gusth Merly Prez, 14, of the Julian Blanco School, who was a youth participant. "This peace begins within my insides, achieving an equilibrium and balance with myself, later this is reflected in my family, community, country and finally the entire world."

The celebration of Peace Day ended at San Juan's Central Park with a gathering of religious leaders from many faiths who made a "Commitment for Peace."