The disproportionate influence of militarism in Chile is not entirely due to Pinochet's military dictatorship (1973-90) but rather is a historical construction that has given character and form to the Chilean nation-state.
International Conscientious Objectors' Day is celebrated on 15 May since the early 1980's. It is a day to highlight the struggle of conscientious objectors for the right to conscientious objection, and against war and militarism, globally.
Conscription exists for men aged 18-40, recruitment is via ballot, as only 60000 recruits are needed from a pool of 975,000 men reaching conscription age annually. Conscientious objection is not recognised.
Conscription has not been enforced since the peace treaty of 1992. The right to conscientious objection is not recognised.
Medellín is a city of contrasts, where you find many ways of life. But in parallel, in different neighbourhoods, people live and wage a war that, besides death and prolonged absences, leaves an odd feeling of normality - as if, here, nothing will happen.
But it does happen, and increasingly proposals that people should arm themselves to defend life and institutional normality gain strength, proposals that divide the world between goodies and baddies.
Although War Resisters' International's focus for International Conscientious Objectors' Day is Chile and Latin America, activities in different countries obviously respond also to the local situation, while drawing attention to the focus region at the same time.
There will be a memorial event for conscientious objectors past and present at the commemorative stone for conscientious objectors in Tavistock Square, central London, on 15 May. The event will start at noon.
War Resisters' International was founded in 1921 under the name "Paco". It was and is based on the WRI declaration:
War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.
War Resisters' International exists to promote nonviolent action against the causes of war, and to support and connect people around the world who refuse to take part in war or the preparation of war. On this basis, WRI works for a world without war.