PALAS POR PISTOLAS: A Commemorative Tree Planting

The Organization of American States' Art Museum of the Americas and Washington Project for the Arts, in conjunction with The Ripple Effect: Currents of Socially Engaged Art, presents a commemorative tree planting ceremony for Pedro Reyes’s Palas por Pistolas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12 noon with OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza

Organization of American States Main Building (Aztec Garden)
17th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006

-OAS Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza

-Jeff Abramson, Director of Control Arms, a global civil society alliance calling for a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty: a global, legally binding agreement that will ease the suffering caused by irresponsible transfers of conventional weapons and munitions.

-Joel Antonio Hernández García, Ambassador of Mexico to the OAS and President of the OAS Permanent Council

-Following the ceremony, Raquel de Anda (curator of The Ripple Effect) will give a tour of the exhibition.

About the Event
OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza will plant one of the 1,527 trees for artist Pedro Reyes’ Palas por Pistolas project. Palas Por Pistolas is a bi-national campaign to make communities safer by transforming weapons into shovels that are then used to plant trees, raising awareness of ongoing violence in Mexico and acting as a symbol of perseverance amidst a destabilizing reality.

Palas Por Pistolas is a bi-national campaign to make communities safer by transforming weapons into shovels that are then used to plant trees, raising awareness of ongoing violence in Mexico and acting as a symbol of perseverance amidst a destabilizing reality.

During the first phase of the project, in Cuilicán, Mexico, weapons were solicited through television announcements and collected in exchange for vouchers for discounted electronics and appliances in local shops. Consequently, 1,527 firearms were collected, publicly steamrolled at a military base, melted, and recast into 1,527 shovels that were used to plant 1,527 trees.

More recently, a new phase of Palas por Pistolas has been initiated in Ciudad Juarez where the Mexican government provided 6,700 destroyed weapons. The immediate task is to transform this metal into 6,700 shovels and initiate the planting of 6,700 trees in a binational planting campaign throughout 2012 and 2013. The longterm goal of Palas por Pistolas is to become a permanent campaign to curb the circulation of small weapons in the entire Mexican territory while planting trees in acts of civic participation. 

This program is aligned with the efforts of the OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security and its Department of Public Security, whose efforts to prevent the illicit trafficking of firearms include promoting the full implementation of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Related Materials. The OAS aspires to strengthen institutional capacity to prevent and combat firearms trafficking, currently focusing on three key areas:

- Stockpile Management and Destruction: the OAS offers assistance and training to national authorities in proper stockpile management techniques; modernizing stockpile facilities and destroying obsolete and/or surplus firearms and ammunition. For example, more than 4,500 weapons and 6.5 million munitions in Central America have been destroyed to date as a result of this program.

- Marking and Tracing: the OAS provides Member States with marking equipment, as well as the training necessary for its effective use, together with computer equipment to facilitate accurate record keeping of marked firearms. To date, more than 250,000 firearms in OAS member states have been marked and registered.

- Legislative Assistance: OAS offers legislative assistance to the Member States in order to promote the development and implementation of legal frameworks that facilitate the effective application of the CIFTA.