Covid-19

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In Chile in October 2019, a historic social uprising took place, unexpectedly for the vast majority. More and more people were joining the protests every day. The current government, tried to soften and ease the diffuse protests that occurred almost every day. Those attempts were so clumsy from a strategic and political point of view that finally a state of emergency and curfew were enforced. This resulted in the presence of the military on the street, reminiscent of the dictatorship era. In March, as these events continued to unfold, the first Covid-19 cases appeared. As the number of cases went up and fear overcame the population, the government saw a great opportunity to move attention away from the protests and toward the health emergency.

$1,917,000,000,000. Or $1.9 trillion. Any way you write it, that’s a lot of money. All of which has been spent on militarism: on weapons production and development, on soldiers, on wars, on bases, on command and support systems, on repression.

Up to now, Colombia’s response to the pandemic - the Common Enemy - has been one of a familiar nationalist and militarist rhetoric, a staunchly-upheld, militarized response that is unfolding in Colombia’s towns and cities.

This letter argues that humanitarian disarmament can lead the way to an improved post-pandemic world and calls on states, international organizations, and civil society to follow its lead to create a “new normal.” It is open for signature by civil society organizations.

As towns and whole countries shut down in order to “flatten the curve” of outbreaks of the coronavirus, we are at risk of choosing the wrong analogy for what we collectively need to do in these perilous times. “Waging a war” is the most deceptively alluring analogy for mobilizing private and public resources to meet a present danger. We should, however, resist that allure.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a time of great stress for all, but on the other side, it also creates time for reflection to build a more positive future. Here are a few examples of how peace organisations are raising awareness of the impact of Covid-19 and challenging militarised responses to it.

In recent months, states around the world have had to respond to the unprecedented challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the next edition of The Broken Rifle, we want to explore the militarised aspects of this response. Read here to contribute.

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