UFM's "Torneo Interescolar de Debatientes" (Insterschool Debate Tournament) is a space to develop debate skills through offering its students theoretical and practical workshops that helps them on the subjects such as, oratory, rhetoric, speech, debate formats and expression, that are involved in topics of political or social interest. Participants from different schools in Guatemala City have to defend a stance and different postures in this final debate discussing the topic: "To Press of Not to Press the Button?"
During this final exercise of debate, students were presented with a dilemma: two ships are handed a bomb detonator. One boat is filled with civilians, and the other one with prisoners and criminals. Each ship has each other’s detonators, and the deal is, if none of the boats explode, both ships will. But, if any boat explodes, one will survive. Reaching the final question, should the button be pressed to blow up the prisoners ship?
The first house, presents their stance by saying they would press the detonator if, and only if, the criminals on the ship are sentenced with the death penalty according to the law, specifically the 18th article of the Constitution that reads: "The penalty will the executed after all the resources are exhausted". That leads the house to explain:
We won’t be detonating a boat full of innocent people, in fact we won’t be detonating or killing not even one single innocent person. We know now that here he or she not only had, all the chances to make up for their mistakes but we also know that because the law states so, they went trough a judicial process and their sentence was properly determined".
The second house, introduces their discussion by pointing cases of people that had been sentenced as guilty when they were not, as Nelson Mandela. That meaning, some of the people in the boat might be misjudged, and they might end up with an innocent life, how explosion is not a correct way to apply death penalty and also, how death penalty can’t be applied to a woman, if there were to be a women on the ship. The house statement relies on Humans Rights that read:
The right to live, is defined as a moral principal based on the belief that a human being has a right to live and should not be killed by another human being, so the human rights are above any constitution".
We invite you to follow up this interesting final discussion with young Guatemalan students and learn from and with them.
Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.
Universidad Francisco Marroquín