An Ambassador That Kept His Word
By Juan Pacheco
To me, some politicians are always going to be “the folks who did not stand up to support the community when it mattered”… when it was not going to gain them votes, when it was going to be unpopular to do so, when it did not bring out the media… but some are those that do the right thing when it was the “right time” to stand up and support our community and in particular… our young people (that includes our Lift up the light Candlelight Vigil: Peace through Peace – A Call for Peace in El Salvador and DC)!
I want to publicly thank Salvadoran Ambassador in Washington, Arq. Francisco Roberto Altschul Fuentes for meeting with me prior to our peace vigil that was held on September 15th in front of the Embassy and creating room for me to share “the real message of the vigil”. Even after many adults created a fear-based rhetoric and publicly attacked this peaceful movement cultivated by our youth and our community (these mean spirited adults even tried to connected our love-driven vigil to the violent manifestation in San Salvador, isn’t that crazy), the Ambassador still met with me with a spirit of respect and real interest in “what our young people tasked us adults to assist them in building”.
In our meeting the Ambassador listen to the process and why we decided to hold it on Salvadoran Independence Day (our symbolic way to say, “let us all Salvadorans live a life independent of violence”), he listened to our traditions, and how our young people wanted to “do something for their home country”… he shared his concerns, but also his hopes and he even said, “I trust you to keep your word that this will be peaceful”… he even extended an invitation to have all the folks that attended the Peace Vigil to attend the Independence celebrations that the Embassy would be hosting that same day! I told the Ambassador that it would depend on whether our young people “had a voice” inside the Embassy as they would, outside in our vigil… I told him also that it would depend on whether the young people wanted to come inside as well, as it was “their choice and their power to do so”… the Ambassador would later even place our young people’s message as a formal part of the Embassy’s agenda for that night… see he did not have to do that because even after his ear was touched by all the mean spirited adults that defamed this Peace Vigil, he did not have to trust me, he did not have to trust our Peace Vigil… but he kept his word… and we kept ours! There was no violence, there was no finger pointing neither to the government nor the gangs… there was only hopes, and dreams, and prayers for PEACE for El Salvador and all its people…and peace for the city we now call home… Washington D.C.
After the prayers and the candles were lit, after our peace pledge was signed, after the sounds of beautiful flutes filled the city’s air… we asked a young men named Kevin, that it was his choice whether we would go inside the Embassy, not just to be eat pupusas and tamales and receive awards as many others would be doing in that particular night, but to have his “voice heard”.
I told this young man that if he decided not to go… NONE OF US WOULD GO (because then, what would be the point… we can buy our own pupusas and tamales and celebrate each other’s life all on our own)… but if he felt the courage to share his message of peace, that WE WOULD ALL GO! Kevin decided that he would go and deliver his message!
Inside the Embassy’s celebration, there were politicians, businessman, beauty pageant beauties, a music band, Kola Champagne, pupusas, tamales, awards were distributed, and even some of the adults that tried to defame our young people’s movement (how ironic)… and among all this pre-scheduled activity… were the people who earlier had stood in front of the Embassy, praying for PEACE… and more importantly, there was THE YOUTH WHO BROUGHT HEART TO OUR PEACE VIGIL!
Ambassador Arq. Francisco Altschul kept his word! He did not play politics with me! He did not tokenize our young people! He treated us with respect… and more importantly, he gave Kevin a powerful place in the night’s activities… the sharing of his message! I will always remember that at least for this night in September 15, 2015, two men chose to keep their word and to focus on opening venues for our youth to “have voice”. Thank you Ambassador Altschul for keeping your word!