Torreón, Mexico: “I chose to forgive”13 December 2012
Willie lives in Torreón, an area of Mexico in the grip of drug trafficking. He is committed, together with the Youth for a United World (Y4UW), to building relationships of fraternity.
Willie, speaking to 12,000 young people at Genfest 2012 in Budapest, said: ‘Violence has taken hold of Mexico because of drug trafficking. Fear, hatred and lack of trust have spread over many of our cities. Families have been threatened and had to hide or flee to other cities. There is gang warfare among groups wanting to control areas of the city. Many innocent young people die in bars and clubs and in other public places.
‘One of the young people killed was my cousin Mauricio. He was on his way back from the opening of a new bar when he and other young people were killed by a group of “druggies” who shot into the crowd.
‘It was a terrible shock for me and I was dismayed and angry. Two days later, during a family reunion, a relative came in telling us he was pleased justice had been done. The bodies of 10 young people had been found – thought to be those guilty of the shootings. I felt even worse about this because, however bad the provocation had been, it was obvious that revenge and hatred could not put things right.
‘I could choose between starting to hate or breaking the cycle of violence by forgiving. I chose to forgive. Even though I would never see my cousin again, I could go on building relationships of fraternity with everyone around me.
‘I was part of a group of Youth for a United World, who supported me in this tough moment, and with even greater focus and commitment we carried on doing what we were doing to spread a culture of non-violence. We are sure that together we can stop the hatred and bring our country back to the atmosphere of peace, harmony and hospitality that has always characterized the Mexican people.
‘Our first appointment was “the celebration of friendship”, a party aimed at kindling new and positive relationships. With the funds we raised, we helped a young guy who had been paralysed after an accident.
Another thing we did was to go to the football stadium and distribute stickers and posters with the message: “Peace comes from Love.”
‘But apart from all these initiatives, we believe most of all that the little acts of peace in our daily life create, in silence, an atmosphere of fraternity even in Torreón.’