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Latin American Ecumenical News June - August 2013 • No. 3


Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence.

Proverb 12,17

Information Service of the Latin American Council of Churches

Ecumenical delegation visits peasants in Colombia stigmatized as being subversive From August 8-9, the ecumenical accompaniment team visited the international refuge in Catatumbo, in the proximity of Cúcuta and Tibú, on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, where they saw firsthand the hard conditions of poverty and violence imposed on the local population.

stituted through a common agreement with the communities, and not by military force. The ecumenical leaders called on the authorities to cease the stigmatizing of the peasants and their leaders as being subversive, and the providing of guarantees for the peasant representatives at the negotiation table with the government.

Participating in the ecumenical accompaniment were Colombian representatives of the Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Greek Orthodox churches, and representatives of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), the United Church of Canada, and the Disciples of Christ Church of the United States.

Dialogue on social issues being debated marks gathering between the Uruguayan state and the ecumenical movement

ALC/Bogotá oung people and women of the Association of Peasants of Catatumbo, spoke of the persecution they suffer because of having protested, in a peaceful manner, against the lack of social investment in the area and the breaking of promises on the part of the governing authorities. . The peasants are asking that their present subsistence but illicit coca leaf growing in the area be sub-


Welcome Humanitarian Refuge International Catatumbo Fights

Making a difference in Colombia: Presbyterian Accompaniment program lauded by partner church leader A program that sends U.S. Presbyterians to Colombia to accompany people displaced by a 62-year civil war received high praise from a Colombian church leader Aug. 2. Presbyterian News Service/ALC Louisville By Pat Cole. Special to Presbyterian News Service peaking to a World Mission workshop during the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Big Tent event, Jesús Varga, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, said the PC(USA)’s accompaniment program in Colombia has encouraged Colombian Presbyterians and shown the Colombian government that displaced people are not alone. “These people have had the courage and wherewithal to come to our country and share these experiences with us,” Varga said. While there, he added, the accompaniers “build relationships of mutual trust and bear witness to the faith.”

Alvarez, Castillo, Adolf, Schneider, Pilon and Mora, during gathering in Montevideo

Accompaniers, who are trained by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, typically spend one month in the country. The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and Presbyterian World Mission are also involved in the program, which began in 2004. Mission co-worker Sarah Henken, the Presbyterian Church


Jesús Varga, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Colombia, praises the accompaniment program in his country (Pat Cole PC USA)

(U.S.A.)’s regional liaison for the Andean region which includes Colombia said advocacy is an important part of the accompaniment program. “They go and see and they have a story to tell” to the churches and the U.S. government when they return home, she says. For those who can’t visit Colombia, there are opportunities to participate in spiritual accompaniment, said the Rev. Mamie Broadhurst, a former mission coworker in Colombia. She mentioned praying, hosting Colombian guests, sharing worship services via Skype, and arranging sermon exchanges as ways to get involved. Big Tent, Aug 1-3, is a celebration of the PC(USA)'s mission and ministry organized around the theme "Putting God's First Things First." It's composed of 10 national Presbyterian conferences, more than 160 workshops and special events to mark the 30th anniversary of the formation of the PC(USA) and the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Presbyterian Center here. Source: Presbyterian News Service:

A positive, cooperative, and constructive interaction took place between Pablo Álvarez, Director General of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay (MEC), and a commission from the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), in the country attending the ECLAC (Latin America and Caribbean Economic Commission) conference, along with members of the CLAI-Uruguay National Table. ALC, by Jesica Mora/Montevideo

he First Meeting of the Regional Conference on Population and Development of Latin America and the Caribbean took place last week in Montevideo, with the participation of representatives from more than 30 countries of the region, to discuss a proposal for a regional agenda with regard to population and development following 2014. On August 13, Álvarez met with Felipe Adolf (President of CLAI), Hugo Armand Pilón (President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches of Uruguay), Nicolás Iglesias (CLAI-Uruguay National Table),


Cecilia Castillo (in charge of the CLAI Women’s Pastoral Ministry), and Jesica Mora (in charge of the CLAI Youth Pastoral Ministry), to talk about proposals having to do with commitments on the matter of the communication law, interreligious dialogue, and how religious issues are covered by the media. CLAI ratified the importance and interest of contact and follow-up with the state, on issues in which the church should be present. Álvarez commented on the possible creation of an adjunct commission of the MEC having an advisory capacity, and at the same time a proposal to develop a television program to facilitate debate on current issues, among them the religious. These are proposals that are expected to be developed very soon. For his part, Felipe Adolf gave the Director General of the Ministry of Education and Culture material consisting of the church guides on sexual and reproductive health rights, as well as the Declaration of the VI General Assembly of CLAI held earlier this year in Cuba, among others. One can say that a good result was achieved in the conversation in terms of the lay state and interchange between the state and church.


2 Latin America and Environment

World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) to sponsor community radio participants at World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly Communication rights will be part of the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) 10th Assembly, scheduled to take place in Busan, South Korea, from October 30 to November 8, 2013, and WACC is sponsoring the participation of eight journalists from community radio organizations. WACC, ALC/Busan wo each will be arriving from Radio Padma 99.2 FM (Bangladesh), Radio Bubusa FM (Congo – DRC), Radio Vesta (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Radio Comunitaria JËNPOJ (Mexico). The journalists are cosponsored by the WCC communications department and they will cover the pre-assemblies and the Assembly itself in addition to the workshop. “I am happy that WACC is able to support the WCC Assembly through the participation and accreditation of these community radio teams. Their reporting will not only interpret ecumenical work to their very specific communities, but Assembly participants will also be able to learn and hear more about the relevance of community radio work which sometimes takes place in very difficult contexts,” commented WACC General Secretary, the Rev. Karin Achtelstetter. Radio Padma is operated by WACC member Centre for Communication and Development in the northern Rajshahi region of Bangladesh. It is one of that coun-


Women in community radio studio in India (WACC)

try’s first community radio stations. Rajshahi has a high proportion of illiterate people. Radio Bubusa is a community radio operated by WACC member Sauti ya Mwanamke Kijijini (SAMWAKI) for rural women in the village of Mugogo and surrounding countryside in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Radio Vesta, located in Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina, promotes active citizenship and human rights, focusing mainly on women, children and youth. Radio JËNPOJ in Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Mexico, serves the Ayuujk-speaking Mixe indigenous community in the mountainous Sierra Norte of the state of Oaxaca. The theme of the WCC Assembly is “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” WACC will be presenting a workshop titled “Hearing Many Voices for Justice and Peace.” Participants will

explore the relevance of communication rights to transforming political, economic and social structures and to improving lives and livelihoods. The workshop will focus on the role of community radio in voicing the concerns of poor, marginalized, excluded and dispossessed people. WACC is currently coordinating an initiative focused on increasing the number of communities benefiting from stronger and more inclusive community radio in order to advance democratic participation and active citizenship. Topics to be covered include experiences of empowering people through communication to express their aspirations and needs, strengthening the voices of women, the democratization of the media, and the role of social media and digital platforms. Source: World Association for Christian Communication, WACC:

Ecumenical voices call for a reevaluation of the proposed inter-oceanic corridor in Guatemala The building of an interoceanic corridor in Guatemala that will require 372 kilometers of a paved highway joining the

LAEN Latin American Ecumenical News is a quarterly produced by the Communication Department of the Latin American Council of Churches

Pacific and Atlantic, and which will cut through 46 municipal districts, needs to be reevaluated because of the lack of benefits for the affected peasant communities, has said the Rev. Nilton Giese, General Secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI). ALC/Guatemala City

Editor: Geoffrey Reeson Translation: Geoff Reeson Layout and Editorial Coordination: Amparo Salazar Chacón Press service: ALC, Methodist News Service, ENI, Presbyterian News Press, ACNS, Zenit, Factiva, ACPress. Departamento de Comunicaciones CLAI Inglaterra N32-113 y Av. Mariana de Jesús Casilla 17-08-8522, Quito, Ecuador Telepone: (593-2) 255-3996/252-9933 Fax: (593-2) 256-8373 E-mail: ISSN 1390-0358 Subscriptions: Latin America and the Caribbean: One year US$ 12, Two years US$ 20 Other regions: One year US$16, Two years US$26

iese pointed out that these communities depend on the land for their subsistence agriculture. According to Giese, in addition to the highway, the construction of a pipeline joining the country’s two costal regions is also foreseen. The project is exploring natural resources and the largest among its possible investors are interested in the lands along the highway, the continental ecumenical leader said. In a news conference on July 26, the General Secretary of the


Christian Ecumenical Council of Guatemala, Vitaliino Similox, stressed that there are over 3.5 thousand small landowners who will have no where to go should they be forced to sell their small holdings. The president of the board of directors responsible for the coordinating of the inter oceanic corridor, Guillermo Catalán, holds that the project wants to convert Guatemala into an alternative route for international trade, as opposed to the Panama Canal. He said that the proposal foresees reforestation initiatives and the creating new jobs for at least some 30 thousand people, which will bring development and progress to the 46 municipal districts of the six departments the highway will cross. The project that has been in the making for 14 years has been favorably received by the government which intends to implement it. Source: EFE, Siglo XXI


“There are more things that unite us than those that separate,” say Presidents of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELU) and the Evangelical Church of Río de la Plata (IERP) On August 15, in the church building of “The Cross of Christ” Congregation in the Belgrano neighborhood of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELU) and the Evangelical Church of Río de la Plata (IERP), received the report commissioned by their Board of Directors to a workgroup made-up of lay members and ministers of both churches, to explore possibilities of joint work, beyond what is already being done, in the areas of diaconal service, human rights, and theological education. Buenos Aires/ALC, By David Cela Heffel* uring the period 2003 – 2006, the workgroup met on 16 occasions, mostly in the administrative offices of both churches. Two open gatherings were held, in which members of the two churches participated. One of them was in 2004 in the Martin Luther Parish Church of Florida, Province of Buenos Aires; and the other in the Leandro N. Alem Evangelical German Congregation in the Province of Misiones. A considerable part of the work carried out has been the collecting of the basic documents of both churches and their comparison to determine existing coincidences and differences, on which to facilitate the necessary discussion that would spell out the proposed objectives of both churches. Furthermore, based on previous studies carried out by two of the members of the workgroup, the understandings that both churches have with regard to mission, diaconal service, ministries, membership, and human and economic resources, were identified. The undertaking of the workgroup was fostered by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) throughout the


whole process, with the special support of the then LWF Secretary for Latin America (today LWF General Secretary), Pastor Martín Junge, seeking to overcome pride and useless discriminations. During the ceremony at which the report was presented, Pastor Rodolfo Reinich (coordinator of the workgroup), said: “This is the beginning of a new stage in the relationship between both churches. It is my wish that the report become a work program for the purpose of continuing to search for unity in Christ, and that as churches we not do alone all that which we can do together.” As a corollary to this process, the Presidents of the IELU and the IERP said: “In summary, it can be said that there are more things that unite us than those that separate!” They added: “Thanks to our celebrating the Holy Supper together we can continue walking together. We invite other churches to also be part of the challenge to continue dialoguing.” Present at the ceremony were members of the IELU and the IERP, members of other churches, such as the Anabaptist Mennonite of Floresta and the Argentine Evangelical Methodist Church, along with the President of the Argentine Federation of Evangelical Churches. Multiple expressions of joy and gratitude for the task undertaken were also received, including messages from Pastor Dr. Patricia Cuyatti (LWF Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean), Pastor Martín Junge (LWF General Secretary), Eva Ross, Nils Eric Andersen, Jerónimo Granados, and Juan Pedro Schaad (former members of the group responsible for preparing the text of the report), and many others who for different reasons were unable to be present. Both the IELU and the IERP will continue exploring other areas of work together in the future, and invite other churches to join in the challenge of continuing the dialogue. For that, the mercy of God and the force of God’s liberating and reparative power are asked for. *David Cela Heffel is Assistant for the Area of Ecumenism of the Evangelical Church of Rí o de la Plata.

Pastors Gustavo Gómez Pascua, IELU, and Carlos Duarte Voelker, IERP (David Cela H. IERP)

Latin America and Environment 3

On Friday, August 23, 2013, leaders of more than thirty diverse evangelical denominations and organizations attended the launch in Peru of EXPOSED, a global campaign against corruption. The campaign EXPOSED seeks to bring awareness to Christians of corruption and to commit Christians to the fight against corruption, in order to strengthen pastoral efforts and advocacy against the acts of corruption. ALC, By Rolando Pérez/Lima t the end of the meeting, the attending evangelical leaders committed to participate in the global campaign in the following ways: to increase the


awareness of corruption in their respective congregations and ministries; to be part of the collection of signatures that will be used to issue a call to governing officials grouped in the G-20 collation, that will demand concrete steps to put an end to corruption; to pray and reflect on the prophetic role of the church against corruption. In the meeting, Pastor Enrique Alva, president of CONEP (National Evangelical Council of Peru) and Raquel Gago, executive director of UNICEP (National Alliance of Evangelical Christian Churches of Peru), sponsors of the campaign in Peru, agreed that the church has an ethical and moral responsibility in light of the accelerated increase of corruption in different levels of society, but especially in the level of the State. “Corruption, which has severe consequences especially among the poor in our society, is a sin, and the

EXPOSED Campaign against Corruption

church cannot be complacent regarding corruption; on the contrary, the church has the responsibility to expose this sin,” expressed Pastor Alva. Raquel Gago called for the representing institutes of the evangelical churches to combine their efforts for this cause and encouraged them to continue in the task to develop a permanent vigilance of public and State management. Pastor Rafael Goto, former member of the National Commission against Corruption, urged the church leaders to take into account the positive impact that churches can have against the spread of corruption if they decide to act. “Corruption not only kills, it also impoverishes millions of people, especially the poorest of our society”, he asserted. The event coincided with the publication of the national survey “Perception of Peruvians about corruption”, which was conducted by the non-governmental organization “Pro-Etica”, the Peruvian chapter of Transparency International. The survey revealed that of all the Peruvians surveyed, 78% tolerate corruption, 91% claim they don’t respect the law, and 93% admit that they have not reported an intention to bribe. At the meeting, Cecilia Blondet, executive director of “ProEtica”, held that the evidence of this survey is a good opportunity to demand the State to work against corruption in the central government.

U.S. Department of the Treasury releases blocked CLAI VI General Assembly funds In an announcement on June 27, the Reverend Nilton Giese, General Secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), informed that the funds destined to cover the costs of its assembly in Havana and embargoed by U.S. authorities as part of the economic blockade against Cuba, have been released. CLAI, ALC/Quito n his announcement, Giese said that “after a difficult period of much concern and tension, today we have good news to give. We have just received the letter from the Department of the Treasury of the United States of America, informing us that the blocked funds are being returned.” Giese continued by giving thanks “to God for this victory and to all the people who prayed so that this moment of the news of the returning of the funds would be possible. But we also want to thank our brother Martín Coria and Church World


of sexual violence is supported by theologians and Christian bodies Without any vetoes, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff signed the law on August 1 making it mandatory for hospitals of the public Single Health System to provide integral and multidisciplinary emergency attention to victims of sexual violence. ALC/Brasilia

he law, originally proposed by Federal Representative Iara Bernardi of the Workers Party for São Paulo, has been before the Congress since 1999 and was approved by the Senate at the beginning of this past July. According to the Carta Capital magazine, the law should include the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and exams to detect sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy of victims of sexual violence. Days before President Rousseff signed the law, a group of 56 biblical scholars and theologians from different churches and four Christian bodies – the Alliance of Baptists of Brazil, the Center for Biblical Studies, Catholic for the Right to Decide, and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI Brazil Region) – made public a statement in favor of an immediate and full approval of the law. The statement said: "In any age and in an universal way, sexual violence should be prevented through an educational and critical work together with up-todate scientific knowledge, and with all the technological and policy instruments available in all situations requiring emergency assistance, monitoring and rehabilitation, and an effective treatment of the impacts of sexual violence.” It further identifies multiple problems that trigger violence


mechanisms, such as the social, economic and political inequality, manifest in structures that naturalize direct and indirect forms of violence. The biblical scholars and theologians lament that the Bible has been used as a cultural imagination that legitimates or naturalizes the domestic and public scenarios of aggression. They also underline that "the exercise of biblical interpretation, when not done in a fundamentalist way, helps us to maintain a critical stance in relation to the available social answers.” For its part, the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) said on August 2 that it lamented that President Rousseff had signed the law without any vetoes. The bishops requested the exclusion of an article and two sections which define sexual violence and which guarantee, in those cases, the interrupting of a pregnancy.. "The new law was approved very quickly by the Congress, without the appropriate and necessary parliamentary and public debate, which the serious and complex nature of the matter requires. This has given rise to a lack of terminological and conceptual precision in several provisions of the text, bringing with it risks of a wrong interpretation and implementation, as has been pointed out by important jurists and medical doctors in Brazil,” said the CNBB. Data from the Brazilian Public Safety Forum, shows that in five years the number of rapes registered in the country increased by 168%: from 15.351 in 2005 to 41.294 in 2010. Ministry of Health figures indicate that from 2009 to 2012, reported rapes increased by157%. According to the Secretariat of Policies for Women, it is estimated that every 12 seconds a woman is raped in Brazil.

Reverend Nilton Giese, General Secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches

Service (CWS) for the support they have given us through legal accompaniment in this process of recuperating the blocked funds.” The General Secretary of the continental ecumenical organization headquartered in Quito, Ecuador, pointed out however, that “the commercial, economic and financial blockade against the people of Cuba still continues. “We pray in gratitude to God for the victory, but we also pray for the

children with cancer in Cuba that cannot receive the appropriate medicine for their treatment, because the blockade does not allow them to have access to these medicines.” Giese ended by saying that “as CLAI we need to continue seeking incidence so that one day we are able to give the good news that this blockade also no longer exists. Let us continue praying and working for the end of this blockade.”

Photo: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (AFP)


Evangelical Leaders in Peru Commit Law in Brazil providing to Fight Corruption hospital attention to victims


4 Church and Society

Baptists urge US to lift Cuban embargo Essentially asserting that the embargo is irrelevant, the General Council of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), which comprises Baptist leaders from around the world, said "more than two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, and that most manifestations of that struggle have been ameliorated or abolished, except for the continuing United States embargo against Cuba begun in 1960." Baptist World Alliance/Ocho Rios he General Council of the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) passed a resolution asking the government of the United States to lift its long standing embargo on Cuba. The US embargo against Cuba was first imposed in October 1960, was strengthened in 1962 and codified into law in 1993. It includes commercial, economic, financial and travel prohibitions and restrictions. "The BWA urges the US government to end the embargo of Cuba and re-establish formal diplomatic relations with the Cuban government" and "lift all remaining restrictions on travel to Cuba by US citizens." Both governments need to


"set in place a process for negotiating legitimate bilateral grievances." Essentially asserting that the embargo is irrelevant, the council, which comprises Baptist leaders from around the world, said "more than two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, and that most manifestations of that struggle have been ameliorated or abolished, except for the continuing United States embargo against Cuba begun in 1960." The embargo, the resolution claims, serves no useful purpose. "The interests of neither nation – nor those of the international family of nations – are served by the status quo." Rather, "the lifting of the embargo will improve living conditions for Cubans and provide greater opportunities for commerce, education, and travel." The BWA governing body noted

that several of its member organizations in the US "have been on record for more than two decades in opposition to the embargo" and that "annually for the past 21 years the United Nations General Assembly has voted – nearly unanimously – for an end to the embargo." The council expressed concern about the effect the embargo has on Baptists on the Caribbean island, which has the fastest growing Baptist membership in the Caribbean. "The Baptist World Alliance® stands in solidarity with Cuban Baptists who have been negatively impacted by this embargo." The General Council convened during the Annual Gathering that was held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, from July 1-6. Source: Baptist World Alliance, BWA:

Tierramérica/ALC There is a belief that consent is about saying yes or no, about who wins,” observed James Anaya, the United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous rights. But consultation with indigenous peoples is a matter of “creating open processes where they can voice their opinions and influence decisions, and where there is the necessary will to seek consensus.” Anaya, an attorney, professor and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, formed part of the diversity of faces, languages, cultures and experiences that came together at the World Indigenous Network (WIN) Conference held May 26-29 in

In a message concluding its XXIII General Assembly held mid-August in Buenos Aires, the Argentine Evangelical Methodist Church points out that the centrality of politics is a tool for a legitimate, necessary and indispensable transformation of democracy.

he message highlights the 30 uninterrupted years of democratic life in the country. In it, the Methodists recommend that during the pre-election period, voters analyze and evaluate projects in favor of the nation, “and not mere image advertising campaigns” They affirm the need to recover the central place the debating of ideas provides for the building of a just and equalitarian society. “We encourage the thousands of young people who will vote for the first time, to do so happily and with hope, overcoming the prejudices that adults frequently transmit to them,” says message from the


Sign in Cuba reading 2 hours of blockade amounts to all of the braille machines needed by the blind in the country (CLAI)

Darwin, Australia. In his 30-minute presentation, Anaya stressed the importance of the implementation of measures by national governments to ensure respect for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007. During his brief stay in Darwin, Anaya made time to speak with Milagros Salazar of Tierramérica about the controversial implementation of prior consultation with indigenous peoples and the challenge of designing models of development that can enable countries to achieve prosperity while respecting the rights of native communities. In his opinion, Peru is the Latin American country that has made the most regulatory progress in the implementation of prior consultation with indigenous peoples on projects or activities that affect their territory or culture, as established in Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO). But Peru still needs to demonstrate its capacity for respecting indigenous rights in practice. “Learning comes from experience, and in Peru they are working on building an adequate process,” he

commented. Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia are discussing these mechanisms, although they have yet to establish rules or protocols for conducting consultations. In Anaya’s view, countries do not necessarily have to adopt laws before beginning the consultation process. The main requirement is the “will” to respect indigenous rights, he said. TIERRAMÉRICA: There is a perception that some governments in Latin America operate with a double standard: they sign international instruments to protect indigenous rights, but don’t implement measures to respect them. Do you agree with this view? JAMES ANAYA: I believe the fact that almost all the Latin American countries have voted in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ratified Convention 169 is an advance. These are important steps. Now it is time to implement these processes, but this is very complex. States need to make efforts to confront this challenge. There are a number of issues that need to be considered here: first, state officials Continue on page 8

(Daniel Favaro)

Argentine Methodists exhort voters to analyze national projects

ALC/Buenos Aires

“The State Does Not Lose Sovereignty If It Respects Indigenous Rights”: James Anaya, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples “Learning comes from experience, and in Peru they are working on building an adequate process” for consultation and dialogue with indigenous peoples, said James Anaya in this interview with Tierramérica.

XXIII General Assembly of the Argentine Evangelical Methodist Church

Methodist Assembly, that met with the theme “With Christ We Are a Community of Solidarity.” The message also recognizes “the just demand of original people of access to their lands, denied them as a result of the historical avarice of appropriation and use of the land in benefit of a few, with the complicity of state public servants.” That demand is “a pending debt of democracy,” say the Argentine Methodists. . The document applauds initiatives such as the Union of Nations of the South (UNASUR), that open “space for real integration,” and seek Latin American unity. Finally, the Methodist Assembly sends greetings to the Catholic community on the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope. “We pray to God that he accompany Pope Francis in his zeal to have his pastoral work follow the gospel principles of the poor one of Assisi,” the greeting adds. For the full Spanish text of the message by the XXIII General Assembly of the Argentine Evangelical Methodist Church, see:

Venezuelan president asks media for “new models of communication” at ecumenical gathering The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, presided over an important meeting of the Movement for Life and Peace, held on June 28 in the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas. "We are holding this ecumenical gathering to evaluate the first phases of the Movement for Life and Peace,” said Maduro. ALC/Caracas hen advocating for the configuring of a new communication model for the building of a society of coexistence and peace in the country, Maduro defended the implementing of “new communication formulas that bring about a society of new values.” The president affirmed that the way in which the media speaks about violence has incidence in the reinforcing of anti-values. The leader asked the Movement


for Peace and Life to treat the issue of education as a “transverse vertex” that crosses all the effort undertaken, so as to reduce the indexes of crime and the rate of crime. "Education in all of its aspects is an essential matter, and its strengthening is therefore vital,” he pointed out. Maduro founded the Movement for Peace and Life" (“Movimiento por la Paz y la Vida”), “in order to integrate different sectors in the construction of spiritual and moral values that contribute to lowering the rate of crime and the violence in the country." The Movement has been established in 36 sectors of the Capital District to carry out diverse cultural and social activities in order to contribute to lowering the index of crime in those areas, located in 12 parishes of the capital city of Caracas. Sources: VTV/PL and the Movement for Peace and Life website.

Church and Society 5

we could call “sexual citizenship” – and comprehensive sex education is essential for that.

Latin America and the Caribbean should play a central role in the construction of “sexual citizenship” – a concept that covers a series of population-related issues, rights and guarantees that this region helped build since the United Nations first emerged, says the Brazilian expert. IPS/Montevideo atin America has long been in the vanguard in the promotion of women’s rights, and still is today, Barroso, Western Hemisphere regional director for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, tells IPS’s Diana Cariboni in this August 14 interview. Barroso, who was a key player in the negotiations for the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, says all innovations and creative solutions in this area come from civil society, where youth movements particularly stand out today. For that reason she does not believe there will be any backsliding at the first session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, running Aug. 12-15 in Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital. In this week’s meeting, the region is assessing its progress and failures and hammering out a common position to take to the U.N. General Assembly.


Q: Do you expect setbacks in this first regional conference? A: No, I don’t. The region has made great strides since the 1990s. Governments are aware that this is a development issue. There is no one here who wants to move backwards. Furthermore, there are at least 12 government delegations here that have incorporated civil society – which sends a message that governments want to feel they represent different voices in their countries. Civil society is essential; it gave rise to the rights agenda. Governments don’t have time to create things in that terrain. When they act in a creative manner, it is due to the influence of civil society. I also think there will be a global impact. This region has always been in the vanguard. It was an extremely central actor in promoting women’s rights in the process of the United Nations charter and in the creation (in 1946) of the

Carmen Barroso (IPPF IPS)

Commission on the Status of Women. That was a long time ago. Now, the region is changing; there are many middle-income countries and Brazil is part of the BRICS group (along with Russia, India, China and South Africa). That means the world looks at us differently. Q: What issues could stand in the way of a consensus? A: The danger I see is that references to abortion could stay the same as they are in the Cairo Programme of Action: that it’s a public health problem; that when it is permitted it must be safe; and that it is necessary to act in line with national laws. This will be a major focus of debate. The reality in the region has changed. Uruguay decriminalised abortion, the Mexican capital did so as well, and so did Guyana and Puerto Rico. Colombia adopted more flexible rules, and Brazil expanded the circumstances in which abortion is legal. In Cuba abortion has been legal since the 1960s. It’s important for this to be reflected in the regional position, but that won’t be easy. Another aspect is the demand for comprehensive sex education, particularly for young people. There is still this terribly daft idea that sex education encourages “sin”, or earlier sexual initiation. The research shows that this isn’t true, and that the start of sexual activity is even sometimes delayed, because girls and young women are empowered and feel they can say no if they aren’t really sure. There is also talk of explicitly including the right to gender identity and respect for sexual diversity. But sexual and reproductive rights are broader. Women also have the right to not be harassed in the street or in their workplace. Many of these aspects have been forgotten. To sum up, we are creating what

Q: How have the civil society groups that have formed part of this process in the last two decades evolved? A: The most important thing is to look at young people. We have numerous delegations of very active young people here who also express and organise themselves as such. When I got involved in these issues I was young, of course, but I didn’t define myself as such. What defined me was being a feminist and a woman. This is new. Q: Now that we’re talking about young people: one problem where there have been setbacks rather than progress is teenage pregnancy. A: It’s true. A study by ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) shows that, in half of the countries where statistics are available, the figures have remained the same, and in the other half, they have gone up. There are some new developments, however: many adolescent girls who have a first child don’t have a second child (in adolescence), which is what used to happen. Q: What explains this? A: That they only have access to birth control methods and information once they enter the health system because of the pregnancy and birth. Q: It would seem that adolescents today enjoy greater sexual freedom than 20 years ago, but don’t have the tools to handle it… A: Not all of them. There are class-based differences. In the wealthiest quintile of the population, there are no teen pregnancies, which are concentrated in the poorest quintile. Q: What’s the solution? A: Governments should start out by living up to their promises. In 2008, the region’s education and health ministers pledged to ensure comprehensive sex education mechanisms in schools. What we have seen so far are a few timid steps in a handful of countries.

CLAI Women defend public policies in favor of sexual rights The Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) Women and Gender Justice Pastoral Ministry, denounced the political manipulation practiced by fundamentalist religious groups seeking to impede the broadening of public policies dealing with sexual and reproductive rights, by aligning themselves with financial groups exploring Latin America and the Caribbean.

Dialogue and articulation with feminist movements and other organizations that are in tune with the Women and Gender Justice Pastoral Ministry are to be strengthened, points out the letter, To achieve that they will drink from the sources of Indigenous and Afro spirituality, from the perspective of gender. And, they again ask for parity of the official languages of CLAI, Spanish and Portuguese, in all the activities, publications and documents released by it.

ALC/Havana he denouncement is a part of a Letter from the CLAI Women and Gender Justice Pastoral Ministry, presented to the VI General Assembly of the continental ecumenical organization gathered in Havana from May 2026. The CLAI youth and women at the assembly committed themselves to implementing the Sexual and Reproductive Health handbook, beginning with a gender perspective in all the countries where CLAI is present, and to multiplying the experiences on masculinity already existent.


Rev. Cecilia Castillo Nanjarí, CLAI Continental Coordinator of the Women and Gender Justice Pastoral Ministry

Evangelical group supports project to build new canal crossing Nicaragua A group of Evangelicals has taken a position in favor of the building of a canal crossing Nicaragua, because it believes that it will contribute to sustainable development, reduce poverty and create employment. Managua/ALC, Trinidad Vásquez pponents of the project allege that the government of President Daniel Ortega has put the country’s sovereignty at risk in the negotiations with Chinese businessperson Wang Jing, director of the HKN Nicaragua construction firm that is looking for 40 billion dollars to invest in the project. Pastor Benjamin Cortés, one of the signatories of a document made public by the group of Evangelicals, recognizes that the project requires social, labor, economic, geological, technological and environmental


Source: Inter Press Service News Agency, IPS:

Lake Cocibolca, the fresh water sea of Nicaragua (absolutcaribe)

impact feasibility studies, the latter having to do with safeguarding the preservation of the flora, fauna, water sources and forests of the area the canal would cross. Yet, emphasized Cortés, the socioeconomic development that the canal will bring to the quality of life of a good number of the people of the country, is an ethical imperative. “For us the unity of the nation is vital and therefore a consulting with all the sectors of society, and the sovereignty of the republic should not be put at risk, but, to the contrary, the protection of the resources of the state and the nation are to be affirmed, taking advantage in a rational way of the renewable and non- renewable resources in the service of the common good,” said Cortés. The Evangelical group has proposed that there be a constant dialogue over the issue, safeguarding the Rama and Kreol native peoples, as well as the agricultural and peasant cooperatives of the region the proposed canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would cross, should it become a reality. Incer Barquero, a scientist and government advisor, has explained that the canal project is "disproportional” and would be catastrophic for Lake Cocibolca, a major Nicaraguan natural water reserve.


“We Are Building Sexual Citizenship”: Carmen Barroso, Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region


6 Latin America and Environment

“The country of soccer is scoring CONIC Asks For Less Circus highly in democratic demonstrations,” and More Justice in Brazil Police aggression, legitisays the General Secretary of CLAI mated by certain commuThe Rev. Nilton Giese, General Secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), has sent a letter to the CLAI community analyzing the present situation of his country of birth. CLAI, ALC/Quito I send you greetings from the office of the General Secretary as my fellow citizens in Brazil have taken to the streets in protest against the increase in public transportation fares, the bad quality of education, the precariousness of the health system, the inadequacy of the existing infrastructure, calling for a better quality of public transportation, opposing the high disbursement of public resources for the construction of soccer stadiums (modern stadiums that cost more than US $3,500 millions), and against corruption. Last Thursday alone there were protests in more than 100 cities. ‘We want schools that meet FIFA standards,’ say posters carried by the demonstrators. However, they are not manifesta-

Protests in Brazil (ALC)

tions against the government. They are protests in favor of a better Brazil. The right says that the protestors are yesterday’s poor that have achieved a better condition of life with the governments of Lula and Dilma, and that now they want more. What the right considers as being a lack of gratitude, President Dilma considers a legitimate popular manifestation. “The streets are telling us that we can do better,” says the president. It is natural that there are more aggressive smaller groups, called vandals, among the thousands of demonstrators. The communication

media focuses on them and the disproportionate reaction of the police that fire tear gas bombs and rubber bullets. Yet, the absolute majority of demonstrators protest in a peaceful way, exercising their civic right to be publicly heard. The country of soccer, during these days, is scoring highly in democratic demonstrations. Long live democracy. It would be good to hear analyzes of this situation by the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC)(1), the Ecumenical Youth Network (REJU), and the member churches and organisms of CLAI in Brazil.”

nication media and present in the repression of peaceful demonstrations calling for the lowering of bus fares in São Paulo and of the manifestations by indigenous peoples claiming their rights, “is frightening” said the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC) in June. “It seems that repression has become a model,” it said. ALC/Brasília ONIC laments that the revindications of the civil society are not met through dialogue, but with violence, a recurring practice in different moments and situations, such as the evictions from the Indian Museum in Rio de Janeiro and the demarcations of indigenous areas in Mato Grosso do Sul. “The authoritarian


culture continues to be a characteristic of the Brazilian state,” said CONIC. CONIC draws attention to a report by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations that makes several recommendations to Brazil, two of which point out the repressive measures by the police against the demonstrations of social movements. The first proposes an end to the military police, and the second asks that the urban restructuring underway for the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, be regulated to prevent evictions and displacements of the people. Brazil doesn’t need super events to sell the image of a country of soccer and sports, said CONIC. “We don’t want a mere circus. We also want bread, the fruit of social justice. We demand the complying with the international human rights conventions. Our wish is that the people be respected and that policies that are capable of transforming the social and economic structures responsible for the social exclusion become real,” said the ecumenical organization.

Ecumenical publication in Latin America focuses on eco-theology A book launched in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month reinforced debate on the theme of eco-theology in Latin America with a direct contribution from the World Council of Churches (WCC). WCC, ALC/Buenos Aires he book in Spanish titled Ecoteologia –Aportes del Ecumenismo ("Eco-theology: Ecumenical Perspectives"), edited by Alfredo Salibián and Eusebio Lizarralde and published by Editorial Dunken, features an article of Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice. The book is a compilation of texts presented during a seminar in 2011 addressing the theme "Christian Faith and Ecology: Towards an Eco-ecumenical Theology" at the Protestant theological school Instituto Universitario, ISEDET, in Buenos Aires. For three decades, the WCC has been stressing the need for a holistic view in addressing climate change, including its scientific and political dimensions at the local, regional and international level, along with economic, ethical and theologicalspiritual practices. In his article, Kerber points to the need for a renewed theology of


creation, fed by a more profound reading of the biblical texts and the tradition of the church. “Caring for creation, cultivating and keeping the garden as God asked (Gen 2, 15), is an unavoidable task for human beings and especially for Christians as part of their deepest vocation,” he says. Justice and spirituality are key elements pointed to by Kerber for a more consistent approach to the theme of eco-justice. He believes the impact of climate change is a challenge for the global regions. It is due to such challenges that regional ecumenical organizations have made addressing the consequences of climate change a priority

Eco-theology Ecumenical Perspectives, Alfredo Salibián and Eusebio Lizarralde, Editors

in their work. Several initiatives aiming at climate justice have been taken by the All African Conference of Churches and the Pacific Conference of Churches, among others, social contexts that are deeply touched by climate change. “An eco-theology articulated, responsible and liberating is a sine qua non condition for this component of the mission of the churches, and it can’t ignore science, politics, economics, spirituality, theology,” said Kerber. The theme of the volume by Salibian and Lizarralde reinforces two books launched earlier this year in Latin America. The books are El Cuidado de la Creación y el Calientamiento Global – Perspectivas del Sur y del Norte ("Care for Creation and Global Warming: Perspectives from the North and the South"), edited by Lindy Scott and published by Kairos Publications; and Cambio Global – La Humanidad ante la Creación ("Global Change: Humanity before Creation"), published by Editorial Lumen and edited by Pablo Canziani and Graciela Canziani. Published with financial support from the United Church of Canada, Ecoteologia – Perspectivas desde el Ecumenismo will be made available through free public access online.

Protests in Brazil (ALC)

22% of the cases of HIV/Aids in Guatemala from 2009-2012 are of the Indigenous population According to a UNAIDS study over the period 20092012 made public this week, 22% of the 29,2 thousand cases of people affected by the HIV/Aids virus in Guatemala are of the Indigenous population. ALC/Guatemala City he study points to a lack of information among the Indigenous population as a cause of the high incidence of the virus among that sector. Of the 15 million inhabitants of Guatemala, 43% are Indigenous. According to Pilar Marín, coordinator of the HIV and the Indigenous population project, the


Source: World Council of Churches, WCC:


figures are alarming because they indicate that close to one half of that population is affected by the virus. The UNAIDS study was carried out in 14 of Guatemala’s 22 departments. Government figures speak of 29.2 thousand cases in the country but non-government estimates show 72.4 thousand cases. The study revealed that 46% of the Indigenous population knows what HIV/Aids is and that 45% uses condoms. Of the 571 Indigenous persons interviewed, 26% said that the disease is transmitted by a mosquito bite, 20% said that it is from using contaminated eating utensils, 13% said that it is as a result of kissing a person's forehead, and 6% associate it with witchcraft. The results of the UNAIDS study were released two days after the federal government censored a campaign to raise awareness among the population with respect to the stigmatizing and discriminating of those affected by the disease.

Latin America and Environment 7

The Rev. Dario Barolin, who lives in Uruguay, is executive secretary of the Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches of Latin America (AIPRAL), a group that includes Presbyterian, Reformed, Waldensian, and Congregational churches as well as the Moravian Church of Nicaragua. Presbyterian News Service/ALC Montevideo From: Special to Presbyterian News Service: Eva Stimson*

ario Barolin knows firsthand what it’s like to be part of a religious


minority. A pastor in the Waldensian Church, a tiny branch of the Reformed tradition that has its roots in Italy, Barolin leads an alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed churches in predominantly Catholic Latin America. He is passionate about helping Presbyterians and others appreciate what is unique and valuable about the Reformed way of being Christian. Also active in the alliance are two Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)affiliated entities: the Synod of Puerto Rico and the Hispanic/Latino Presbyterian Caucus. Barolin makes five or six trips a year to visit churches across a vast region that stretches from Mexico through Central and South America to the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean. While in Cuba to attend the Sixth General Assembly of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), where he led one of the morning Bible studies, Barolin sat down with the Presbyterian News Service to talk about his work and about what it means to be part of the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition. In addition to their geographical spread, the churches in AIPRAL represent a range of viewpoints on the ordination of women and other issues, Barolin says. “Some people say we are liberal. We are not liberal – we are open.” Part of the purpose of the alliance, he adds, is “to help member churches become stronger in their Reformed identity.” Many pastors are not well trained theologically, he explains. They don’t understand church government and may think the pastor is the head of the congregation, as in some non-Reformed denomina-

Rev. Dario Barolin, AIPRAL Executive Secretary. ALC File Photo

tions. They don’t understand the role of presbyteries. AIPRAL sponsors regional training events for pastors and laypersons. Barolin would like to see the alliance produce electronic and print resources – perhaps starting with a simple, 10-page booklet on what it means to be a Reformed Christian. Here’s what it means to Barolin: “We are a church that is very serious about the Bible and challenged by it,” he says. “But we also are open to human intelligence.” For example, he explains, “science and the Bible are not opposed but in dialogue.” Another important emphasis of the Reformed tradition, says Barolin, is the equality of ministers and laypersons in church government. Reformed Christians “have a good understanding of social issues, especially economic issues,” he adds. Sixteenth-century Reformer John Calvin, for example, was ahead of his time in stressing “the responsibility of the church regarding poor people. He insisted on a just use of resources,” Barolin explains. Calvin understood that the world’s resources are limited and that if one person takes too much, others go without. Barolin believes Calvin’s teachings are very relevant today – in a world in which people are told that “if they become richer and consume more they will become happier.” Barolin grew up in Argentina, during a dictatorship that granted special privileges to the country’s Catholic majority. He remembers attending a public school decorated with statues of the Virgin Mary, where a priest would pop in regularly to remind the students to attend catechism classes at the Catholic church. To a Waldensian, he says, such things were “a constant reminder

that you are not part of the culture.” With the rising influence of evangelical and Pentecostal denominations throughout Latin America, the Catholic church plays a less dominant role today, Barolin says. But Reformed Christian groups are still a tiny minority. Small churches, however, can still have a powerful witness. Barolin is pastor of a 40-member Waldensian congregation in the town of Fray Bentos, Uruguay. During his three-year tenure, the church has begun to attract new members with non-Waldensian backgrounds – former Catholics, Baptists, and Pentecostals. A Catholic woman attending worship for the first time was struck by the open invitation to partake of communion. “She felt included,” Barolin says. “It was very moving for her.” Others have found the Waldensian congregation to be a refreshing change from churches where pastors preach the “prosperity gospel” or are always asking for money. Barolin also works part-time as professor of Old Testament at a seminary in Buenos Aires that is supported by nine denominations. During the semesters when he is teaching, he makes a four-hour bus trip across the border into Argentina for classes once a week. He and his wife, also a Waldensian pastor, have two sons, ages 11 and 14. Barolin says AIPRAL maintains a close fraternal relationship with the PC(USA) through Presbyterian World Mission. He has found PC(USA) mission personnel stationed in Latin America and the Caribbean to be valuable resources in his work. On a more personal level, he says he is grateful for scholarships he received in the mid-1990s that enabled him to spend two months studying English at PC(USA)-related Maryville (Tenn.) College, followed by a year studying at Princeton Theological Seminary. After leaving Princeton, he spent 45 days helping with a Hispanic ministry and a soup kitchen sponsored by First Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem, Pa. Recalling these opportunities, Barolin smiles when asked about his relationship with the PC(USA). Without hesitation, he responds, “It’s a relationship of love.” *Eva Stimson, former editor of Presbyterians Today magazine, is a freelance writer and editor. Source: Presbyterian News Service,

First woman elected as President of CIEMAL For the first time in its 44 year history, the Council of Evangelical Methodist Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean (CIEMAL) will be presided over by a woman, Pastor Lizzete Gabriel Montalvo, of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. Montalvo was elected at the CIEMAL X Assembly held in Alajuela, Costa Rica, May 13-17. ALC /San José

Pastor Lizzete Gabriel Montalvo, first woman elected as President of CIEMAL

razilian pastor, Luciano Pereira da Silva, who lives with his family in Lima, Peru, will assume as General Secretary for the new 2013-2018 period, along with Bishop Frank de Nully Brown of Argentina, who was elected VicePresident. The Methodist Church of El Salvador was welcomed at the assembly as a full member of CIEMAL, and the Youth in Mission Program commemorated its 15 years of service. Bishop João Carlos Lopes, VicePresident of the College of Bishops of the Methodist Church of Brazil, was re-elected President of the CIEMAL Council of Bishops and Presidents, with Bishop Vernando Pombo of Costa Rica as Vice-President and Bishop Pedro Magalhães as Secretary. With the theme, “Pointing to the Kingdom of God and Making Disciples in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the CIEMAL X Assembly gathered 120 delegates from 22 countries of the region. The election of Pastor Montalvo as President is a recognition of the female leadership in the church, “not only in word, but with deeds that mark the history of our organization, leaving an important legacy for the future generations of our continent,” highlights a statement by the assembly.


Catholics, Lutherans look to commemoration of Reformation anniversary Joint Catholic-Lutheran commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation must recognize the harm caused by the split in Western Christianity, the polemics that exacerbated differences and the progress made through 50 years of ecumenical dialogue, a new document says.

PCPCU President Kurt Cardinal Koch reflects on From Conflict to Communion (LWF S. Gallay)

Catholic News Service/ Vatican City From Conflict to Communion,” a document released June 17 by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Geneva-based Lutheran World Federation, outlined ideas for joint commemorations in 2017 of the publication of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses,” usually recognized as the beginning of the Reformation. The 99-page document, written by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity, looks at the central points of Luther’s call for the reform of the church, the points addressed later by the Council of Trent and, especially, the Second Vatican Council and issues that still divide Catholics and Lutherans. “Luther had no intention of establishing a new church but was part of a broad and many-faceted desire for reform,” the document said. “In 2017, when Lutheran Christians celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, they are not thereby celebrating the division of the Western church. No one who is theologically responsible can celebrate the division of Christians from one another.”

Source: Catholic News Service, CNS:


Proud to be Reformed: Latin American pastor touts strengths of the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition


8 Latin America and Environment

Bolivian President Blockaded: “I am not a criminal” says Evo The President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, has once again been spread like wildfire across the international headline news. Seven years ago, the “first indigenous president” in the continent made a tour of a number of countries in the world. But this time he was “kidnapped” or held because four European countries prevented the presidential aircraft, in mid flight, from entering their air space. 1804CaribVoices, By Alex Contreras Baspineiro*/La Paz This is not a provocation against Evo Morales, but against Bolivia and all of Latin America. It’s an aggression against Latin America on the part of some European countries,” said the Bolivian President concerning the forced stopover in the Vienna (Austria) airport due to suspicions that the ex-security agent of the U.S. government, Edward Snowdon, was traveling in the presidential aircraft. The head of the Bolivian State was obliged to remain some fourteen hours in the Austrian airport, where he made an emergency landing because France, Portugal, Italy and Spain revoked their authorization of the use of airspace and airports in his return from Russia to La Paz. In Moscow (Russia) he had taken part in the Second Summit of the Forum of Gas Exporting countries. Evo Morales Ayma, in his intervention in the event, advocated the defense of natural resources, considered as the property of peoples, insisted that they should be administered by States and asked for techno-

Bolivian President Evo Morales re-boarding presidential aircraft in Vienna

logical and scientific assistance to benefit nations involved and to attend to the international demand for this energy source. Defending and sharing the experience of the nationalization of hydrocarbons, the Head of State pointed out: “Those countries — especially those of Latin America and the Caribbean — where natural resources are appropriated by the State, are administered by the State and belong to the people, come permanently under attack, since historically our resources were looted; and the experience of Bolivia is how to recuperate these resources for the benefit of the peoples”, he said. The Organization of American States (OAS) demanded explanations from the European countries that prevented the presidential aircraft from flying over their territories, since they had placed the life of the president “at risk”, while the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) called an extraordinary meeting to analyze the situation, and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) condemned the action since it violates international agreements. In the name of the OAS Miguel Insulza stated that the European countries involved should provide explanations as to why they placed

the life of the President of Bolivia at risk. “Nothing justifies such a disrespectful action against the highest authority of a country”, he said. After exchanging with the Bolivian Head of State on preventing the Presidential Aircraft from inspection, Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner wrote by Twitter: ”Simply perfect, stand strong Evo. From Uruguay, President José Mujica expressed indignation for the humiliation, while the head of Ecuadorian diplomacy, Ricardo Patiño, said that this, to say the least, is a tremendous offence, and his Venezuelan counterpart, Elías Jaua, affirmed that his country regards the international aggression as being against itself. “I believe that this is a pretext to frighten me, intimidate me, to teach me a lesson, and above all, to attempt to silence us in our struggle against the policies of looting, against invasions and domination… I cannot understand that France, Italy, Portugal and Spain claim that I was detained because I was giving a lift to one Mr. Edward Snowden”, remarked the President of Bolivia. Imperial kidnapping Article 40 of the 1961 Vienna

Convention stipulates out that “if a diplomatic agent passes through or is in the territory of a third State, which has granted him a passport visa if such visa was necessary, while proceeding to take up or to return to his post, or when returning to his own country, the third State shall accord him inviolability and such other immunities as may be required to ensure his transit or return.” In face of this violation of the Vienna Convention, from around the national territory there were voices of rejection, protest and mobilizations. Resuming this sentiment, Vicepresident Alvaro García Linares described the retention of the Head of State as a kidnapping tied to U.S. imperialism. “We want to tell Bolivians, we want to tell the whole world that President Evo Morales, the Bolivian President, today has been kidnapped in Europe; we want to tell the peoples of the world that President Evo Morales has been kidnapped by imperialism and is being held in Europe”, he declared. Accompanied by the full ministerial cabinet, García Linero denounced the flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention concerning official flights and the use of air space and airports previously authorized. The Bolivian dignitary also denounced an attempt at blackmail on the part of a diplomatic official of Spain to bring Morales Ayma to accept — against international norms — a search of the official Bolivian aircraft. “I could not allow a search of the aircraft because I am not a criminal and you know that this is an official aircraft according to international norms. The President has inviolable immunity, his right to go to any part of the world. I refused on a question of dignity, I am obliged to defend our dignity and sovereignty, since this is not an offence against the President, it is an offence against

a whole people, against a whole region such as Latin America”, said Evo Morales Ayma as he reassumed the flight to the heart of the Latin American Continent. The Minister of External Affairs of Austria, Michael Spindelegger, assured that, before the exit of the Bolivian President, the airport police of Vienna undertook a “voluntary inspection” authorized by the pilot and verified that Snowden was not on board the aircraft. “It is an important piece of information for everyone that there was no stowaway on the presidential aircraft. It was a question of a persistent rumor that had caused problems on a world scale”, lamented Spindelegger. From Brussels, the European Commission confirmed that it is within the competence of every member State to decide whether to accept or reject access to air space, according to the community spokesperson on Transportation, Helen Kearns. During his life as a union leader, Evo Morales Ayma fought against the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) in coca producing areas and once installed as President, expelled the U.S. Ambassador as well as entities of the US. What is certain is that the arbitrary decision of the authorities of France, Italy, Portugal and Spain to deny their airspace to the Bolivian Presidential aircraft has generated a unanimous protest in all social sectors of the national territory and in addition a huge repercussion at a world level, because not only were international conventions violated but this amounted to an attack against what is most sacred: the sovereignty and dignity of a whole people… (Translation: Jordan Bishop). *Alex Contreras Baspineiro is a Bolivian journalist and author This article was first published by ALAI (Latin American Information Agency at More information: *Source: 1804CaribVoices:

“The State Does Not Lose Sovereignty If It Respects Indigenous Rights”… From page 4

need to be educated to understand that these rules are not only a question of international relations, but that they need to be applied internally, because they are directed at the indigenous peoples who live in their territories. The second thing needed is the political will, and sometimes this is the problem, because there are various political and economic forces that need to be dealt with. Third is the establishment of mechanisms for collaboration with indigenous peoples in order to implement the rules. TIERRAMÉRICA: One of the areas where there is a great deal of resistance on the part of national authorities is the implementation of prior consultation. What is your view of the criteria being used by governments to establish whether an indigenous community has the right to be consulted? JA: That varies a lot between countries, it depends on the state. TIERRAMÉRICA: In Peru, for

example. JA: In Peru they are just beginning to apply their law and its regulations. I know there is a whole debate on the registry (of indigenous communities), but we still have to see how they are going to apply the law. I hope they will do it in accordance with international standards. On the other hand, it should be recognised that consultation is based on basic rights that in some way apply to everyone. In the case of indigenous peoples, because of their characteristics, there need to be special and differentiated procedures. This is not a matter of abstract considerations, it has to be addressed on the ground. TIERRAMÉRICA: Speaking of concrete cases, in Peru there is a consensus on consulting indigenous peoples in the Amazon, but this is not the case when it comes to communities of peasant farmers that are located precisely in the areas where extractive activities are carried out. JA: The rights of indigenous peoples must always be protected. It is

necessary to move forward with development for the benefit of everyone, but protecting indigenous rights. And achieving both things is possible; they are not incompatible. TIERRAMÉRICA: Perhaps that is the problem: governments feel that respect for indigenous rights has to be left aside in order to promote private investment in their lands… JA: The problem is that the models that have existed up until now have shown these (indigenous rights and economic development) to be incompatible. Perhaps it is a question of creating new models based on human rights, models that respect the rights of indigenous peoples. It’s not a question of putting a brake on development. TIERRAMÉRICA: That seems like something so easy to understand, but there is a lot of resistance. JA: There is a great deal of polarisation between the different parties, there needs to be more dialogue. TIERRAMÉRICA: Do you think the state would lose its sovereignty if an indigenous community has the

last word on whether or not an investment project can be undertaken on their territory? JA: The state does not lose its sovereignty if it respects human rights or indigenous rights. It has to comply with these rules to respect those rights; the state cannot do whatever it wants.

When the state respects human rights, it exercises its sovereignty, says James Anaya (Milagros Salazar IPS)

I would say that the respect of these rights is a way of ensuring that this sovereignty is exercised. When the state respects human rights, it exercises its sovereignty, because it is acting in favour of its citizens and peoples. TIERRAMÉRICA: Nevertheless, there has been a loss of trust in governments. What can be done to ensure legitimate consultations and to open up dialogue? JA: The mistrust and prejudice need to be overcome. It is a matter of creating open processes where indigenous peoples can voice their opinions and influence decisions, and where there is the necessary will to seek consensus. The problem is that sometimes there is a belief that consent is about saying yes or no, about who wins. Consent is linked to consultation; the purpose of consultation is to reach consent, to reach consensus. It is not a question of one side imposing its opinion on the other. Source: Tierramérica:

CLAI - Latin American Ecumenical News  


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