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An open letter to the WFRtDS delegates and colleagues from Juana Betancor

Taken from the World Right-to-Die Newsletter issue no. 46, Januray 2005.

Juana Betancor was Vice-President of the WF, 2002–2004, and had been in line to become President. Excerpts from the letter she sent to the Board explain the circumstances that prevented her ascension to this office and her absence from the Conference.

Dear World Federation delegates and colleagues;

This letter is chiefly a note to explain why I am not in Tokyo to become the WF President. It also allows me to convey a general message. First of all, my gratitude for everything the Federation has meant to me for nearly 20 years of my life. Next, my encouragement to you and all societies — the real flesh and bones of the Federation — to stand firm in our main goal; to make death and the dying process as humane, dignified and easy as possible.

When in 2002 I accepted the Vice-Presidency of the World Federation in Brussels it seemed clear to me I was following the path I had started in 1986 in Bombay as the DMD-Spain delegate. Human groups go through chaotic periods, sometimes to evolve towards a new order, sometimes to disappear. That has been the case in DMD-Spain in recent times.

Founded in 1984, DMD-Spain gained a solid name, thanks to the many years of voluntary effort of wonderful compassionate people. Important facts to remember are the society’s leading position to arrive at the current Living Will legislation and Ramon Sampedro’s* public fight for his assisted suicide. Unfortunately in my view, after a serious chaotic period of more than a year, the society has split up into several smaller organizations. This long crisis led me and most of my Board colleagues to resign from our positions. On the other hand, it also became crystal clear to me that I wouldn’t take on the WF Presidency without those inner matters being solved in a way that made certain my term of office could be efficient and stable. I am deeply thankful for the understanding and support shown to me by my WF Board colleagues about this crisis.

The future is dynamic and uncertain. It is my hope that the reshaping of a new order in the Spanish societies may, in the long run, give birth to a new cycle of legislative initiatives that lead to a full respect for the voluntary and persistent will of those terminal and incurably ill who competently ask for aid-in-dying as the majority of the Spanish population wants.

Thanks to you for protecting the autonomy of individuals at their weakest time and for finding ways to lessen human suffering. I don’t want to say goodbye to you. “See you” seems to me a more genuine formula. I will go on fighting for the goals I share with you from other arenas in my own country, from which I will be always most happy to keep in active touch with the WF.

Juana Teresa Betancor,

Former Vice-President WFRTD

Barcelona, 15th September 2004