By Melissa Reanne De la Cruz
New York City — As New Yorkers commemorate the 14th year of the horrendous bombing of the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan today, Candido Portinari’s world famous ‘War and Peace’ murals return to the auspices of the United Nations to remind world leaders and citizens that peace is everyone’s duty.
UN Secretary-general Ban Ki Moon during the second unveiling on September 8, 2015 at the entrance of the General Assembly Hall said, “Let us realize his vision and move from war to peace”.
The Permanent Mission of Brazil to the UN, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil and the Projeto Portinari worked on the timely return of the panels to the UN on its 70th anniversary as a community of nations. The event was graced by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, along with various personalities of the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Unit, headed by Ambassador Mauro Vieira, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of the Brazil Permanent Mission to the UN, and members of the Ministry of Culture in Brazil led by Culture Minister Juca Ferreira.
In his speech, Mr. Ban Ki Moon recognized the panels as two of the UN’s most meaningful works. Portinari died of paint poisoning while completing the second mural. Mr. Ban Ki Moon acknowledged the work as a greater call to action for all member states in the UN.
Brazil Foreign Affairs Minister Ambassador Mauro Vieira, speaking in his native Portuguese and then in English to the fully packed crowd called for the organization and its members to strengthen their ties and achieve peace through nonviolent means.
The War & Peace panels were on tour in Brazil and Europe prior to its return to the UN. The Brazilian government commissioned Portinari to depict ‘Guerra e Paz’ as a gift to the United Nations in 1952 and 1956. The panels were placed originally in the maximum security area of the UN headquarters here, to be viewed only by the UN staff and delegates as they entered the premises of the building.
In 2007, the UN announced that major renovations would take place in its headquarters in New York and Projeto Portinari, a non-government organization and leading archivist of media, culture and history in the 20th century in Brazil, pushed for support from the Brazilian government to secure the panels for viewing to the Brazilian population.
The organization got their wish and by 2009, the portraits were restored in public before being displayed at the Guerra e Paz in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2014, the panels continued their journey to Paris at the Salon d’Honneur of the Grand Palais as it was exhibited for 30 days in the French capital.
Before the end of the presentation, Pope Francis graced the crowd through a short letter from the Vatican just a few weeks before his arrival in the East Coast. His letter encouraged all those in attendance “to pursue new means in achieving peace especially because we are slowly being hurt by individualism. We can do this by pushing for social justice advancement in our communities”.