by Martha Inés Romero
Latin America Regional Coordinator, Pax Christi International
In the midst of the suffering caused by poverty and marginalization, in Latin America and the Caribbean, every day people build stories of change, resistance and resilience. These stories witness the involvement of many missionaries – religious and lay, women and men – promoting peace-building and nonviolence, forgiveness and reconciliation. We hear stories about the incarnational humanness of the work for just peace and overcoming violence, the work that brings meaning to life.
Archbishop Oscar Romero said:
“When the church hears the cry of the oppressed, it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.”
This message caused a great impact on our people to continue fighting against injustice. These days good news occurs in our context: El Salvador’s Congress approved a law prohibiting all metal mining projects in its territory. At the same time, in a small town, Cajamarca in Colombia, 99% of its inhabitants voted to ban mining. It implies that a big gold mining company may not be permitted to extract gold – a $2 billion potential investment that could yield 28 million ounces of gold – because people voted to defend their water. Both cases have been deeply supported by the Catholic church, as a way to care for the Creation, as Laudato Si’ demands to us.
We must believe that Creation is life offered, and that we shall commit ourselves to contribute to a new lifestyle, according to suma kawsay or “buen vivir”, the Andean cosmovision that promotes a way of doing things that is community-centric, ecologically balanced and culturally sensitive. We defend life when we defend our respect for the dignity of every person and the harmony of Creation as a whole. Transforming conflicts from a nonviolence approach is a way in which we can react towards violence and injustice.
Let’s pray for those who defend life and Creation, with their life if necessary, as in El Salvador and Cajamarca, and with Psalm 129, we shall reaffirm: “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”
Martha Inés Romero is the Latin America Regional Coordinator for Pax Christi International.