Adrián Núñez from Peru: “Proper scientific information is key now”

#GlobalHumanismNow: an update from the Secular Humanist Society of Peru

  • blog Type / Membership blog
  • Date / 8 April 2020
  • By / Giovanni Gaetani

Today we launch #GlobalHumanismNow, a series of mini-interviews with our Members and Associates from all around the world where we ask them how they are coping with the global coronavirus emergency, to explain what initiatives they are taking, and to tell us how the global humanist community can support them.

The first mini-interview of the series is with Adrián Núñez, Executive Director of the Secular Humanist Society of Peru, Member of Humanists International since 2017.

Humanists International: Hi Adrián, thank you for accepting our invitation. What is the current situation in your country, Peru?

Adrian: On March 6, the first case of COVID-19 in Peru was confirmed. He is a commercial pilot who returned from his holidays in Spain, France and the Czech Republic. Today we have 2,561 official cases and 92 deaths.

And how is your country responding to the emergency so far?

Ten days after the first official case, the Peruvian government began to take confinement measures progressively. School classes were cancelled first, then events of more than 300 people. On March 16, a national quarantine was decreed and it has become increasingly restrictive.

The government is taking evidence-based measures and is having a very high acceptance in public opinion because of this. Despite this, we still do not know how long mandatory confinement will be extended.

On the other hand, parts of the population are having difficulty following government directions and more than 50,000 people have already been arrested.

Before the lockdown, the Secular Humanist Society of Peru hosted the first three episodes of “Para Normales de la Noche”, a rationalist-skeptic radio show sponsored by Humanist International

How has the emergency affected your organisation and the individuals within it?

We had to reorganize our activities because all our face-to-face events were suspended until the quarantine ends.

This includes our radio program “Para Normales de la Noche”, sponsored by Humanists International – we managed to host just the first three episodes, but we will get back in studio when the lockdown will be over.

One of our directors has signs of COVID-19. He is waiting for the test to be taken these days, but he is in good condition.

We are glad to hear that he is in good condition, please keep us updated on his health status if you can. Going back to the previous question, how is your organization responding to the emergency?

An infographic from Secular Humanist Society of Peru with four advises to help during the emergency: 1) Stay safe at home; 2) Keep you informed through the official channels; 3) expose fake news; 4) donate if you can

We are creating online content to keep the population properly informed and to dispel myths and quackery that arises from COVID-19. We believe indeed that proper scientific information is key now, and humanist organizations all around the world can play their part.

More in general, how do you think we should face this emergency as humanists? Which humanist principles should we value most right now?

As humanists, we rely on scientific evidence, human experience in various fields, and the ability to work as a team to solve the problems that emerge from this crisis. In contrast to this, we debunk those who try to take advantage of fear and offer magical solutions that are not based on any evidence. We also take advantage of the moment to spread ideas about how to think critically and ethically, noting the importance of solidarity and equal rights for all.

Although the government and specifically the police and military forces sometimes have to act with force to preserve order and confinement, we know that democracy is the best system we have been able to create to organize our society and we monitor that the limits it places on the monopolistic exercise of state violence do not exceed.

Science, democracy, solidarity: this emergency is putting the whole mankind to the test. Do you see any positive side in all of this?

The decrease in human activity has improved air quality (NO2 and PM2.5 levels) and decreased noise and light pollution, and we optimistically see that this great social and ecological “experiment” never carried out before will help us to take actions in favour of the environment in the future.

What about religions? What is their role during the pandemic?

Religions can serve to give comfort and a sense of community to many people, but it is also evident (if it was not evident already before) that they do not provide miraculous solutions and that in some cases they hinder the most rational action (in Peru there have been multiple cases of churches that have refused to suspend their face-to-face activities, violating the current norms).

We appreciate the religious groups that are adjusting to quarantine, and we criticize to those who put everyone’s health at risk for not complying with the law.

What kind of support do you need from the international community?

The countries that are ahead of us in the advancement of the disease help us to make forecasts and to decide what measures to take, but we depend on the transparency of the information. For example, if not enough tests are being performed, if they are poorly taken, or if patients are discharged prematurely, we must exercise caution when using official data. So it would be useful for us to share not only the data but also what could distort the real numbers.

What is your message to humanists all around the world?

Secular humanism can give us a special vision of what is happening in our locality in this crisis. For example, in Lima, the mayor has turned the bullring into a temporary shelter for the homeless (search for “la casa de todos” on the Internet). People with a humanistic heart have seen with joy the wit of the mayor, but also the complaint of the fans of bulls has been evident, and this has eroded the image of the bull fighting advocates.

It could be valuable if we shared these experiences. Some of them could be replicated.

Thank you, Adrián, it has been a pleasure, and please stay safe!

Pleasure was mine, stay safe you too!

If you represent a Member or Associate of Humanists International and you want to participate to the #GlobalHumanismNow series, please contact us at [email protected]

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