Lost Opportunities : Military Spending in Latin America
Óscar Arias Sánchez President of the Republic
TEDxPuraVida Auditorio Nacional, Museo de los Niños 19th of March, 2010
I am here because the organizers of this event wanted it to be inaugurated by the biggest nerd in Costa Rica… but Franklin Chang could only speak at eleven thirty. Because I also meet some of the requirements, they asked me to do it. My good friend, Roberto Sasso, also assured me that the auditorium would be filled with nerds like he and myself. But there are people here who are far too good looking. This means one of two things: either Roberto was wrong, or we are improving as a social species. If this is how nerds are looking nowadays, I think I must be the missing link in the evolutionary chain.
I see that I am several months older than you. About 400 or 500 months. But that is irrelevant. A person is as old as his or her ideas. When it comes down to chasing exciting ideas, I could be the twin brother of the youngest person with us here today. It is from that youth of thought, where the strength for change is born, that I want to address you this morning.
I have come here to speak about Latin America. I have come here to speak about the crazy cousin of humanity. I have come here to speak about that region which, as someone once said, could turn Kafka into a traditionalist. One cannot find a sliver of land in this world that is more filled with prodigies and contradictions. One cannot find a spot in this world where universal writers and illiterate peasants, political statesmen and military dictators, rich charlatans and poor intellectuals, puritan souls and unredeemable partiers, can live together in such disorder. We were born in the center of a cup which decants the best and the worst of the nectars of our species. This makes us prone to the absurd, but it also makes us sensitive to miracles: it is because Latin America is infinitely diverse, that its possibilities are also endless.
Imagine, for an instant, what our region would be like if we gave more power to programmers and designers, instead of to colonels and generals. If we allotted our resources to buying more books and computers, instead of more missiles and war tanks. If instead of high walls and fenced gates, our borders shared high-tension cables or fiber optic networks. If instead of repeating in our schools the eternal history of our war campaigns, our young students had the opportunity to attend conferences like this one. Imagine that Latin America of which I speak, desire it, want it… and roll up your sleeves, because it’s up to us to build it.
I believe that all of us here are chasing the same utopia: that of a region where development reaches the majority of the population; where all young people complete, at the very least, their secondary education; where each and every inhabitant has internet access and a mobile phone; where there is enough work for everyone and a universal health care system; where crime doesn’t rob us of hope; where poverty is no longer the bane of our people; where environmental degradation doesn’t threaten to erase the traces of human existence.