Fifth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Hondarribia, Spain 1994

Last night I had the strangest dream

I never dreamed before

I dreamed the world was all agreed

to put an end to war

(An old Irish song, perhaps)


Two years and a half have passed since the moment we proposed ourselves for hosting the Vth International Conference of War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns. We are finishing the task we accepted then with the edition of these proceedings. This is a good moment for reviewing all this lap of time.

We supposed it would be hard work. The first thing we thought in Madrid when we decided to bring our offer to Brussels was that we didn't know what it would suppose to us. We didn't really know and we have to recognise that it has been hard work, harder than we thought, but, at the same time, it has been very interesting work. We have had the opportunity to be linked with all of you by mail during this time and some of us even met in Hondarribia. During all the time we have been active in the conscientious objection movement either to the physical or to the tax military service, we have realised that beyond the world that we see in the newspapers, a world deeply involved in very hard troubles, there are a lot of people working to change the situation of the world, trying to make it a little bit better than it is now. So far, we have had the opportunity to realize it in the different meetings we usually have, but normally these meetings are bounded to a little corner of the world. Now, the relationship has gone beyond any political border and we have been working together with people from South Africa to Japan, from Chile to Pakistan, from Australia to Canada. And the impression is always the same: everywhere there are people working together for a better world, everywhere there are people who believe that non violence is a good path to justice, a good path to peace. Those who gathered in Hondarribia were just a good example of this.

We are working together and we are learning from each other. Without any doubt, we have been very lucky in Pamplona-Iruñea for having this task because we have learned many things. We received a lot of ideas from all of you in these two years. We tried to process and redistribute these ideas in the letters we sent to you and we hope you found them interesting too.

The final expression of this interchange of ideas was the Conference itself, three-five days when the contact didn't need any postperson. The results are there to be seen: the adoption of the declaration of the right of non cooperation with military expenditure, the foundation of Conscience and Peace Tax International (a fruit of a decision adopted in Brussels), the conclusions of the different workshops and plenary sessions, so many hours spent in discussions, sharing ideas,... It was hard work too. At some moments it seemed that we couldn't go ahead, at other moments, the differences between us were clearer than the coincidences, but above all there was the effort of several dozens of people looking at the future, wanting to develop some skills than can put the basis for improving this future. At the end, we could realise that what joins us is far more than what separates us. The results are there not only to be seen but to be developed as well. This is the task we have now in front of us.

This effort in reaching results allowed all of you to forgive all the mistakes we made in the organisation. We couldn't obtain the visa for the Nigerian people, the first lecture fell down off the program, a representative from Paraguay that we expected till the last moment didn't turn up, some workshops didn't have any preparatory documents,... The lacks were of a material kind too: we had to use two different sites for the conference and as for the material lacks we have to talk about the interpretation booths: we haven't forgotten it, we can't forget about it! All the inconveniences were got over by your fine disposition, but the interpretation booths we provided...What a shame! We want to repeat here the same thing we said to Donatella, Jose and Konrad Sunday noon: without them, the conference would not have been possible. They offered to do this work without any cost for us, and to give them good material was our responsibility. We failed on it and we must apologise for it. Without any cost, do you know what the idiomatic we use in the Basque language for this is? Musu truke, that is, getting a kiss in return. We would like to send them a kiss expressing the acknowledgement for their work.

We have to do more acknowledgements: the people of Bake Leku in Urnieta that hosted us before the conference and did for us quite more than can be expected, those who guided us in Gernika, the senator and the former eurodeputy that did really their best in Foreign Affairs trying to get the visa for the Nigerian representatives and all these people that at some time or other looked to us with sympathy and did something to improve the developing of the conference. Just two details: Neither the one who rented us the photocopier nor the one who rented us the coffee machine didn't asked anything in payment, except the cost of the material we consumed.

When the meeting finished we went back to our countries. Everyone brought with him or her the notes that we took at the conference. Since that moment we have tried to collect as many recorded information as possible and put it in order. These proceedings are the result of that work and we hope they will reflect the real result of the work we did together in Hondarribia. We have realised by doing this work that we did in Hondarribia much more than we could remember: the summary of each workshop has brought to us new details that we lost at first, the hearing of the recorded tapes has made the work of transcribing them a new occasion to live the discussions we had, getting new ideas from them. We would be happy if you get when reading them the same impression.

Last night I had the strangest dream ... Everyone who is active in the peace movement has this dream every night, every moment, but as we say in the declaration concerning the right of non-cooperation with military expenditure, most citizens are educated to believe that military measures are necessary, to believe that this dream is just a dream. But we do dream it and we do believe that it can come true. With our activism on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns we are walking in the way towards this dream. In every part of the world there are people like us walking the same way. There could be a long geographical distance, but we are walking together, we are working together.

We discussed about the developing of the conference in the meeting we had in Madrid after it and, at the last moment, one of the representatives that were there asked to the one from Pamplona-Iruñea about our final impression. The answer was a single sentence: It has been worthwhile. We hope you will think the same.

Alfredo, Emilio, Gede, Javier, Juanjo, Patxi and Pedro from Pamplona-Iruñea, Iñaki from San Sebastian-Donostia, Iñaki from Gernika, Chema from Barcelona and Kerman and Julio from Bilbao, we want to thank you for your understanding, your sympathy and for giving us the opportunity of having done this work. It has been worthwhile!

We will meet in London. Agur eta beti arte!

Pamplona-Iruñea, March 22, 1995

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