We’re almost at the end of my swimming tour around the world. In a few days I will leave for one of the most beautiful places in the world: Chiapas, one of the 32 federal entities of Mexico, a State rich in traditions, ethnicities and religions. It is located in the Southeast of the Federal Republic of Mexico, between the Pacific Ocean and the lush Mayan ruins of the city of Palenque, across the colorful San Cristobal de Las Casas. It’s just above the border with Guatemala, as if it were the tail of the United States of Mexico. It’s a mostly mountainous region which is probably, at least potentially, one of the richest regions in Central America: its agricultural production is significant, particularly with regard to coffee and corn, crops that are symbols of the Mayan culture, and of which it is the largest producer in the entire Republic.
Chiapas is, however, affected by serious social conflicts, leading to the marginalization of the weakest people, particularly of those with disabilities: this is the reason why I chose this region, which is not only rich in minerals and agricultural resources, but also in humanity, for this leg of my tour.
Living as a disabled person in Chiapas, as in too many others countries, is not easy: there are countless obstacles and hardships which are almost always due to a model of society that doesn’t take into account the most elementary needs of a minority which, most of the times , remains ignored.
For many years, I have been fighting a battle through which I try to raise public awareness worldwide, on a very important issue. It is often, however, almost ignored by most governments: it’s the removal of all those barriers, architectural, social and mental, which prevent the Persons with Disabilities from integrating in the fabric of society.
Today, after years of study and research, the scientific world has piled up such powerful knowledge, that systems have been developed which have allowed, in some cases, to completely remove the physical disability: it’s a pity, however, that to this day, they remain locked in the cupboards of the leading research centers in the world. It ‘s time to release them and to make them accessible through their industrialization.
I often wonder what the reasons for this absurd delay are, which I imagine cost a lot to all States: it doesn’t just hit hard all those Persons with Disabilities, but it also blocks an entire industry that includes manufacturers and retailers. Without even considering the absurd gap that is created between science and the world of disability, which, in the best interest of the entire civilized world, should be able to take advantage of all progress resulting from such research.
I believe that we all pursue a common goal. We want, in fact, that, at a global level, an agreement is reached on new, practical actions. Measures that can prevent, and one day put an end to, the imprisonment of persons with disabilities, thus freeing our society from all the barriers that deny, even today, the fundamental rights to mobility, independence, education and work: in one word, the right to citizenship.
Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, states that “States Parties undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.”
Every person has a story. One that can be modified, changed, improved, even in a difficult moment in history like the current one. Our biggest mistake, I believe, is to try to awaken in each one of us those qualities which we don’t have, instead of growing those that we possess:
the future is here already, it’s just that it’s badly distributed.