Archive for the 'RELIGION' Category

Mo(u)rning in El Salvador

March 26, 2009

The Nation.

A young supporter of FMLN presidential candidate, now president-elect, Mauricio Funes. RODRIGO ABD/AP

Roberto Lovato

March 26, 2009

In Izalco, El Salvador, an idyllic but very poor village nestled under the gaze of the great volcano of the same name, I asked Juliana Ama to help me understand how the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), the guerrillas-turned-political-party, had managed to triumph over the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) in the presidential election on March 15, ending the right-wing party’s twenty-year reign. Ama guided me to a dusty, football field-size dirt lot adjacent to a church. The 61-year-old schoolteacher said nothing at first, staring meditatively at a round spot blackened by a campfire or some burnt offering. Then she said simply, “It’s our dead.”

Her explanation lacked the revolutionary bravado and the análisis político heard from chain-smoking former guerrilla commanders and Facebook-using radical students in San Salvador, the capital. Instead, she threw open her arms and said, “Most of the people killed in the Matanza [the Great Killing] are buried here.” Before us lay the remains of many of the 20,000 to 30,000 mostly indigenous Pipil-Nahuat killed in January 1932 on the orders of military dictator Maximiliano Hernández.

In slow, measured speech, Ama, one of a tiny fraction of Salvadorans who identify themselves as indigenous, explained how indigenous peasants like her great-great-granduncle, the peasant leader Feliciano Ama of Izalco, and others from the western coffee-growing part of El Salvador rose up against deadly poverty, stolen land and other abuses in Depression-era El Salvador, only to be brutally slaughtered.

“We’ve organized commemoration ceremonies on this spot since 2001,” said Ama, as she pointed at the darkened patch on the lot. “People who can’t remember and are silent are people who are submitted (sumisos). Those ceremonies made it normal and acceptable to be open about the loss of long ago, the loss that still lives with us. Nothing like this was ever possible before, and I think that the ceremony made it possible for people to start being more open about political feelings too.”

My initial reason for visiting Izalco during the country’s presidential election season was that I’d learned of ARENA’s defeat in the Izalco mayoral race in January–the party’s first defeat since it was founded in 1981 by Roberto D’Aubuisson, who also founded El Salvador’s notorious death squads. The death squads, backed by the right-wing military government, were responsible for killing many of the 80,000 people who died during the bloody civil war of 1980-92.

The FMLN’s recent victory in small, neglected Izalco–after campaigning on a message of change backed by a coalition of Catholics, students and evangelicals–had political analysts buzzing about how it might herald a national trend in the lead-up to the historic presidential election. Even some ARENA loyalists I interviewed quoted D’Aubuisson’s prophetic maxim: “The day we lose Izalco, that day will be the end of the party.”

In Izalco it became clear how Ama’s explanation of the FMLN’s victory aligned perfectly with the central lesson of revolutionary political warfare that some former Salvadoran guerrilla commanders told me they’d learned in Russia, Vietnam and other Communist-bloc countries in the 1960s and ’70s: the spirit of the people matters most. The power that broke the chain of oligarchies and military dictatorships that shackled El Salvador for 130 years was the will of the people to break their silence.

Few embody this will to break the silence like Mauricio Funes, the FMLN candidate and the first leftist elected president in the history of El Salvador.

Funes, a 49-year-old former journalist, rose to prominence in no small part thanks to the democratic space created by the signing of the peace accords ending the war in 1992. Until then, the seventy-year rule of oligarchs and dictators made freedom of expression a rarity. My first memories of Funes are as the talk-show host and commentator my family in San Salvador would listen to in the late ’80s as they huddled around a small, battered black-and-white television set during their lunch breaks.

As the grip of state military-run television loosened in the postwar period, Funes became the country’s most popular TV personality in his role as host of Entrevista al Dia (Interview of the Day), El Salvador’s equivalent of Meet the Press.

Hosting al Dia, on which he grilled and debated left- and right-leaning guests with his famously mercurial intelligence, helped to make Funes a symbol of the openness ushered in by the signing of the peace accords. After losing every presidential race since laying down its arms to become a political party in 1992, the FMLN embraced change. With the help of people like Funes’s mentor Hato Hasbun–a sociology professor who worked closely with the six Jesuit priests killed by the military during the FMLN offensive in 1989–the party finally recognized that putting up presidential candidates who were former guerrilla commanders or wartime opposition leaders might not be the best strategy for winning over an electorate trying to overcome the war’s painful legacy. The party chose Funes, who was neither a combatant nor a member of the FMLN during the war.

In doing so, the former guerrillas gave their party a much-needed upgrade that allowed them to use the FMLN’s legendary organizational capacity (during the war, the US State Department called the FMLN one of the “best organized” and “most effective” people’s movements in Latin America in the last fifty years) to meet the political requirements of the media age. And as a Jesuit-influenced intellectual, Funes also gave the FMLN–an organization with many leaders who were themselves profoundly influenced by liberation theology and first organized in Christian base communities–some ideological comfort.

When I interviewed Funes on the night of his victory, in the restaurant of a San Salvador hotel, the first thing he did was echo the thinking of one of those who courageously broke El Salvador’s silence. “Now we need a government like the one envisioned by [Archbishop of El Salvador] Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who, in his prophetic message, said that the church should have a preferential option for the poor. Paraphrasing Monseñor Romero, I would say that this government should have a preferential option for the poor, for those who need a robust government to get ahead and to be able to compete in this world of disequilibrium under fair conditions.”

Like almost every Salvadoran I spoke with after Funes’s victory, the candidate said he wished a deceased family member, in his case his brother killed during the war, was with him to share the moment.

And like Juliana Ama, he too rooted his victory in the legacy of silence and struggle from Izalco: “Our history–what happened in 1932, the poverty of the ’70s that caused the armed conflict in the ’80s and the state in which many in the countryside like Izalco still find themselves today–these can be explained fundamentally by the unjust distribution of wealth, the use of the government to support the process of concentrating wealth.”

After talking with Funes at the hotel, I went to the Escalon neighborhood, where those who have benefited from the concentration of the country’s wealth live and do business behind the big, heavily guarded walls of gated buildings and fortressed mansions. For reasons I don’t know, but imagine have something to do with poetic justice, the FMLN decided to hold its massive victory celebration that Sunday night on Escalon Boulevard.

The neighborhood was also where the FMLN launched its offensive on San Salvador in 1989. After the demise of Communism put in doubt the survival of Latin American revolutionary movements, including El Salvador’s, the FMLN made a strategic decision to bring its guerrilla army of young men and women and older adults, some of whom had little to no combat experience, into the capital, leading to some of the bloodiest battles of the war.

I walked along the crowded blocks of the Escalon with my good friend Joaquin Chávez, a fellow in the NYU history department, who founded the first Central American studies program in the United States with three other colleagues and me. Passing by Citibank and Scotiabank, OfficeMax, McDonald’s and other corporate buildings on the Escalon never felt so exhilarating. The major difference was the hundreds of thousands of boisterously happy, red-shirted, mostly poor children, youth and families waving homemade red-and-white FMLN flags.

For his part, my bookish, bespectacled historian friend Joaquin, who had lost many friends and family members during the war, was initially pretty academic about what the electoral victory meant.

“The origins of the war were not ideological. What brought on the armed struggle,” began Joaquin, whose current research looks at the role of intellectuals in the origins of the war, “was the reaction of various groups to the repression of the state. If the government had allowed fair elections in 1972 and 1977, there would have been no war.” His voice started to crack slightly with emotion. “And that’s what makes tonight so hope-inspiring: it makes possible a political transition through legal and electoral means.”

Watching the wave of thousands of mostly young FMLN supporters walk, sing and dance as they held handpainted signs with messages like Misión Cumplida: Compañeros Caídos en La Lucha (Mission Accomplished: Compañeros Who Fell in the Struggle), Joaquin reminisced, not as the accomplished historian but as the former guerrilla leader: “I remember being here on Seventy-fifth Street (during the 1989 offensive) to pick up the bodies of dead and injured young combatants. They were the ages of these kids walking here now.”

He continued: “Tonight I feel like they didn’t die for nothing. Spiritually, it feels like a weight has been taken off of you, where you feel the absence of those who initiated these processes. This is an explosion of happiness and a celebration of rebellion, a triumph of the 1932 rebellion of Feliciano Ama and the indigenous people.”

Back at the empty lot, near the blackened patch of dirt that is ground zero of revolutionary El Salvador, Juliana Ama pondered the escape from silence her country had begun. Despite the threats the commemoration ceremonies provoked, she said, “our ceremony is not intended as a political act. It is first and foremost a spiritual act. We have no choice; we can’t remain and suffer in silence.” Her eighth-grader son, Alex Oswaldo Calzadia Chille, stood solemnly nearby.

Asked what he thought the political turns in his country portended, the rather reticent, dark-skinned 14-year-old star student, soccer forward and drummer at the Mario Calvo school responded with an unexpected forcefulness. “I’m Pipil (Indian). Feliciano Ama, he’s my family and was killed defending the land against the government, like many people do today.” As if he’d been waiting for the opportunity to speak even more, he declared, “My family voted for the FMLN because they wanted change.” His intense brown eyes alive with the energy one imagines his rebellious ancestor had, Alex added, “When I’m old enough, so will I.”

Izalco, El Salvador and the Way Beyond the Silence

March 12, 2009

izalco1

Mystical Izalco portends the end of Salvadoran silence.

To understand the current presidential elections in El Salvador, you have to understand the cities, towns and the campo, El Salvador’s countryside, located outside the capital of San Salvador. What follows is my attempt to provide further context for the media’s description of the horse race between the FMLN and the ARENA parties. A good starting point is the fact that both parties trace all or some of their political roots to Izalco, a relatively small town in the western, coffee-growing part of the country. Izalco is also home to one of the largest concentrations of El Salvador’s small (less than 1% of the population) indigenous population.

For strange, tragic, even mysterious reasons, Izalco, which in the racist popular national lore (ie; one way to call someone ugly is to say they look “indio”) is home to witches, is also home to what, in my opinion, is the ever-present, but unspoken political and cultural spirit of the country. And this region also concentrates large numbers of volcanos, some of which are also quite alive (see above) , as are the narrow and crowded streets of Izalco (below).

izalco-streets

If we want want to take the political pulse of a country as poor (50% of the population lives in poverty) as El Salvador, speaking with people who are not just poor, but a small, indigenous poor minority living in such an enchanting and dark land will give us a unique read. Not all people here in Izalco identify as native people, but all recognize and live indigenous reality like few other places in this country of 7 million.

kids

You can see the indigenous presence in the sublime faces of the kids here.

You can also find it in and on the nahuatl textbooks and notebooks:

nahuat-arm

And you can find the indigenous presence in the deep, dark soil of Izalco’s history. Almost all of the children from Izalco’s Mario Calvo school pictured above are descendants-great, great and great, great, great, grandchildren- of the 20,000-30,000 indigenous people who rebelled against deadly poverty and abuse and were then slaughtered in 1932 by General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, the dictator who perpetrated what is known as “La Matanza” (the Great Killing). Martinez and his troops did all this in less than a month, according to scholars like my friend Aldo Lauria-Santiago, whose book is pictured below with a cover of the Izalco volcano.

http://mriveraq.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/1932-libro-nueva-portada1.jpg

Recent research like Aldo’s and that of other scholars reveals that the idea that the rural insurrection in the west was led by urban communists of the period like Farabundo Marti is wrong. In fact, these scholars tell us, it was led by the ancestors (below) of the children pictured above. Below is the picture of the real leader of the insurrection, Jose Feliciano Ama.

https://i0.wp.com/3.bp.blogspot.com/_I4smoUo73EI/SSrUw5lftII/AAAAAAAAClI/8dExOP7XwLU/s400/felicianoama.jpg

The spiritual reality behind images such as these inspired revolutionary Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton to say in his oft-quoted poem,

Todos nacimos mitad muertos en 1932

Sobrevivimos pero medio vivos

(we were all born half dead in 1932

we survived but half alive)

Despite recent research, many still blur the differences between the communists and the indigenous rebels of the period. Even many members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) make the mistake as do members of the governing ARENA party, which was founded in Izalco by Roberto D’abuisson. D’abuisson also founded El Salvador’s notorious death squads, one of which was named for the old dictator, Hernandez Martinez.

arena1

I actually have no idea who the group of Izalco Areneros pictured above are. I visited the office and spoke with the directores of Arena’s campaign in Izalco, who told me why their message of “democracy,” their message of “freedom” from the threat of El Salvador becoming a “Hugo Chavez satellite” moves Izalco’s voters.; The directores also lauded D’abuisson, whom they met, and Hernandez Martinez, whom they admire. The events of 1932, they said, saved the country from comunismo and laid the foundation for the later formation of the ARENA party. For these and other reasons, they said , ARENA always begins its presidential campaigns in Izalco, as they did when this year’s presidential candidate, private security mogul and former head of the national police, Rodrigo Avila, came here to kickoff his campaign.

The directores also showed me a copy of the ARENA anthem which hails El Salvador as the “tomb where the reds will be terminated.” I thought it odd that, rather than let me take their picture, the directores told the people pictured above to stand outside the ARENA office, where I took the picture. Less than half a small block to the right of the ARENA office is the large (1.5 blocks) field where most of the indigenous people killed in 1932 are buried in an anonymous mass grave (see picture of plaque and smoky Izalco volcano in background below) excavated by forensic scientists from Argentina in 2007.

32

The fact that this is the only commemoration of La Matanza in El Salvador, a country where surveys tell us that 75% of the population knows nothing about the events of 1932, provides an object lesson in the dangers of institutional and political amnesia; It also tells us why ARENA has won every mayoral election in Izalco since it was founded here in 1981; Every mayoral election until this year, that is:

f5-izalco-mayor

Pictured above in the blue shirt is Roberto Alvarado, a member of the FMLN and Mayor-elect of Izalco whose stunning victory last January reflects the depths of the changes here and in the entire country. “They sang that stupid song about “the tomb of the reds,” Alvarado,a former teacher who was pursued by death squads, told me adding, “Now we are going turn Izalco, the cradle of ARENA, into the the political grave of the ARENA party.” Alvarado’s coalition-students, indigenous communities, Catholics and evangelicos– provided the FMLN with a major spiritual and political victory -and a model to be emulated across the country.

Streets reddened and silenced for several decades by the blood of the indigenous martyrs are now red with the hope voters are placing in the FMLN and its candidate , the multi-mediagenic former journalist, Mauricio Funes:

fs-streets1

f5-cola-ii

f5-shoes

The unprecedented openness expressed in the shoes, shops and streets of Izalco has many, many reasons and thousands of people to thank for it. Together, these forces ended the silence that cast a permanent cloud over Izalco -and El Salvador-after the events of 1932. One of today’s most vocal and effective breakers of the silence is Juliana Ama, director of the Calvo school that teaches nahuatl. She is also the great, great granddaughter of rebel leader, Jose Feliciano Ama (above). Since 2001, Juliana has organized commemoration ceremonies every January at the site of the mass grave near the ARENA office in Izalco, ceremonies that draw conflict and controversy.

Despite the tensions, despite the threats she has received, Ama soldiers on in what she defines first and foremost as a”spiritual act” because, she says, “we have no choice; we can’t remain and suffer in silence.” Juliana also believes that there is a direct link between the commemoration ceremonies and the defeat of the ARENA party. “Those ceremonies made it normal and acceptable to be open about the loss of long ago, the loss that still lives with us,” she said. “Nothing like this was ever possible before and I think that the ceremony made it possible for people to start being more open about political feelings too.

juliana

Finally, as the son of the 10 year-old boy who witnessed and survived la Matanza and then went on to become my father, I want to thank Juliana and the people of Izalco for their example, their courage and their great wisdom.

R

The Saints Have Spoken: San Martin de Obama Will Win By a Divine Landslide

October 21, 2008

This just in from the Great Beyond: Barack Obama has been hiding secretly in the heart and soul of Latino, African and Afro-Latino América all along. This most recent Good News bodes badly for the purveyors of the media’s urban legend about Latino’s near-genetic predisposition not to vote for a black person ; Speaking of our spiritual and genetic DNA, the Good News also reminds us that Latinos, millions of whom have more than a few drops of black blood, have black skin, dance to African-infused music, eat African foods, etc. have, after all, only been praying to black saints for centuries. In my childhood house, San Martin and San Judas were, from earliest times, there protecting us in almost every room of the house – and now they’re protecting the house of our planet from destruction.

Look, yee unbelievers, look with your own faithless eyes, for it is so

Though it may provide but another weak weapon to the army of fear and hate that is the McCain-Palin progrom, this breaking news from on high also portends bad things for those who look into the Big Blue Eyes of Jesus before bashing immigrants, black people, gays & lesbianas, Latinas and a host of other infidels. In the minds of the Saints and Gods that guide us, the hateful among us have already been defeated. Unfortunately for that other rotting temple of false and falling idols, el Partido Democrata, the divine winds will also smash the statue of that other False God, San Obama de Corporate America, whose other manifestation sometimes takes the form of ex-Clinton Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin. You need only believe. For it is written in the book of Eleggua; You can hear it in the coming thunder of Shango; It is done. Aché to my good friend Carlos Cordova for giving us the Good News from the Gods.

What Obama and McCain Can Learn From Evo Morales About Immigration – and Leadership

June 18, 2008

If you want to hear what a Real Leader sounds like with regard to immigration policy, check out Bolivian President Evo Morales’ Open Letter to the European Union (EU) about the today’s vote EU vote on its “Return Directive,” which calls for a U.S.like deportation of undocumented persons from EU territories.

I had the pleasure of interviewing President Morales during his visit to the U.N. last year and found him to be a leader of extraordinary insight, intelligence and deep conviction. Instead mimicking the Bush Administration’s drug war-crazed policy of undermining Morales and other Latin leaders, Presidential candidates Obama and McCain might, instead try to learn from Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state in 500 years, especially when it comes to the immigration that started with those “illegals” whose boats were packed with all the trappings of “civilization”: bibles crammed next to the big canons and muskets and balls and chains.

Just imagine if our own immigration debate included statements from our leaders like this one:

Europeans arrived en masse to Latin and North America, without visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were simply welcomed, and continue to be, in our American continent, which absorbed at that time the European economic misery and political crisis. They came to our continent to exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high cost for the original populations in America. As is the case of our Cerro Rico de Potosi and its fabulous silver mines that gave monetary mass to the European continent from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The people, the wealth and the rights of the migrant Europeans were always respected.

Imagine.

And, if you’d like to sign a petition calling on the EU to reject the Return Directive, go here.

There’s much more in this letter that should be studied and emulated. So check it out and enjoy – and imagine.

Open Letter from Bolivian President to EU on the “Return Directive

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION FOLLOWED BY ORIGINAL SPANISH LANGUAGE VERSION]

Up until the end of the World War II, Europe was an emigrant continent. Tens of thousands of Europeans departed for the Americas to colonize, to escape hunger, the financial crisis, the wars or European totalitarianisms and the persecution of ethnic minorities.

Today, I am following with concern the process of the so called “Return Directive”. The text, validated last June 5th by the Interior Ministers of 27 countries in the European Union, comes up for a vote on June 18 in the European Parliament. I feel that it is a drastic hardening of the detention and expulsion conditions for undocumented immigrants, regardless of the time they have lived in the European countries, their work situation, their family ties, or their ability and achievements to integrate.

Europeans arrived en masse to Latin and North America, without visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were simply welcomed, and continue to be, in our American continent, which absorbed at that time the European economic misery and political crisis. They came to our continent to exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high cost for the original populations in America. As is the case of our Cerro Rico de Potosi and its fabulous silver mines that gave monetary mass to the European continent from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The people, the wealth and the rights of the migrant Europeans were always respected.

Today, the European Union is the main destiny for immigrants around the world which s a consequence of its positive image of space and prosperity and public freedoms. The great majority of immigrants go to the EU to contribute to this prosperity, not to take advantage of it. They are employed in public works, construction, and in services to people in hospitals, which the Europeans cannot do or do not want. They contribute to the demographic dynamics of the European continent, maintaining the relationship between the employed and the retired which provides for the generous social security system and helps the dynamics of internal markets and social cohesion. The migrant offers a solution to demographic and financial problems in the EU.

For us, our emigrants represent help in development that Europeans do not give us – since few countries really reach the minimum objective of 0.7% of its GDP in development assistance. Latin America received, in 2006, remittance (monies sent back) totaling 68,000million dollars, or more than the total foreign investment in our countries. On the worldwide level it reached $300,000 million dollars which is more than US $104,000 million authorized for development assistance. My own country, Bolivia, received more than 10% of the GDP in remittance (1,100 million dollars) or a third of our annual Exports of natural gas.

Unfortunately, “Return Directive” project is an enormous complication to this reality. If we can conceive that each State or group of States can define their migratory policies in every sovereignty, we cannot accept that the fundamental rights of the people be denied to our compatriots and brother Latin-Americans. The “Return Directive” foresees the possibility of jailing undocumented immigrants for up to 18 months before their expulsion – or “distancing”, according to the terms of the directive. 18 months! Without a judgment or justice! As it stands today the project text of the directive clearly violates articles 2, 3, 5,6,7,8 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

In particular, Article 13 of the Declaration states:
“1. All persons have a right to move freely and to choose their residence in the territory of a State.
2. All personas have the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.”

And, the worst of all, is that the possibility exists for the mothers of families with minor children to be arrested, without regards to the family and school situation, in these internment centers where we know that depression, hunger strikes, and suicide happens. How can we accept without reacting for them to be concentrated in camps our compatriots and Latin American brothers without documents, of which the great majority have been working and integrating for years. On what side is the duty of humanitarian action? Where is the “freedom of movement”, protection against arbitrary imprisonment?

On a parallel, the European Union is trying to convince the Andean Community that the Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) to sign an “Association Agreement” that includes the third pillar of the Free Trade Agreement, of the same nature and content as that imposed by the United States. We are under intense pressure from the European Commission to accept conditions of great liberalization of our trade, financial services, intellectual property rights and our public works. In addition under so called “judicial protection” we are being pressured about the nationalization of the water, gas and telecommunications that were done on the Worldwide Workers’ Day. I ask, in that case, where is the “judicial protection” for our women, adolescents, children and workers that look for better horizons in Europe?

Under these conditions, if the “Return Directive” is passed, we will be ethically unable to deepen the negotiations with the European Union, and we reserve the right to legislate such that the European Citizens have the same obligations for visas that they impose on the Bolivians from the first of April 2007, according to the diplomatic principal of reciprocity. We have not exercised it up until now, precisely because we were awaiting good signs from the EU.

The world, its continents, its oceans and its poles know important global difficulties: global warming, contamination, the slow but sure disappearance of the energy resources and biodiversity while hunger and poverty increase in every country, debilitating our societies. To make migrants, whether they have documents or not, the scapegoats of these global problems, is not the solution. It does not meet any reality. The social cohesion problems that Europe is suffering from are not the fault of the migrants, rather the result of the model of development imposed by the North, which destroys the planet and dismembers human societies.

In the name of the people of Bolivia, of all of my brothers on the continent and regions of the world like the Maghreb and the countries of Africa, I appeal to the conscience of the European leaders and deputies, of the peoples, citizens and activists of Europe, for them not to approve the text of the “Return Directive”. As it is today, it is a directive of vengeance. I also call on the European Union to elaborate, over the next months, a migration policy that is respectful of human rights, which allows us to maintain this dynamics that is helpful to both continents and that repairs once and for all the tremendous historic debt, both economic and ecological that the European countries owe to a large part of the Third World, and to close once and for all the open veins of Latin America. They cannot fail today in their “policies of integration” as they have failed with their supposed “civilizing mission” from colonial times.

Receive all of you, authorities, Euro parliamentarians, brothers and sisters, fraternal greetings from Bolivia. And in particular our solidarity to all of the “clandestinos.”

Evo Morales Ayma
President of the Republic of Bolivia

———————————————-

Carta abierta de Evo Morales a propósito de la “directiva retorno” de la UE

Evo Morales advirtió que si U.E endurece su política migratoria estaría imposibilitado de profundizar las negociaciones del Acuerdo de Asociación y se reservaría el derecho de exigir visa a europeos

Evo Morales (Bolpress – 10 June 2008)

Hasta finales de la Segunda guerra mundial, Europa fue un continente de emigrantes. Decenas de millones de Europeos partieron a las Américas para colonizar, escapar de las hambrunas, las crisis financieras, las guerras o de los totalitarismos europeos y de la persecución a minorías étnicas.

Hoy, estoy siguiendo con preocupación el proceso de la llamada “directiva retorno”. El texto, validado el pasado 5 de junio por los ministros del Interior de los 27 países de la Unión Europea, tiene que ser votado el 18 de junio en el Parlamento Europeo. Siento que endurece de manera drástica las condiciones de detención y expulsión a los migrantes indocumentados, cualquiera sea su tiempo de permanencia en los países europeos, su situación laboral, sus lazos familiares, su voluntad y sus logros de integración.

A los países de América Latina y Norteamérica llegaron los europeos, masivamente, sin visas ni condiciones impuestas por las autoridades. Fueron siempre bienvenidos, Y. lo siguen siendo, en nuestros países del continente americano, que absorbieron entonces la miseria económica europea y sus crisis políticas. Vinieron a nuestro continente a explotar riquezas y a transferirlas s Europa, con un altísimo costo para las poblaciones originales de América. Como en el caso de nuestro Cerro Rico de Potosí y sus fabulosas minas de plata que permitieron dar masa monetaria al continente europeo desde el siglo XVI hasta el XIX. Las personas, los bienes y los derechos de los migrantes europeos siempre fueron respetados.

Hoy, la Unión Europea es el principal destino de los migrantes del mundo lo cual es consecuencia de su positiva imagen de espacio de prosperidad y de libertades públicas. La inmensa mayoría de los migrantes viene a la UE para contribuir a esta prosperidad, no para aprovecharse de ella. Ocupan los empleos de obras públicas, construcción, en los servicios a la persona y hospitales, que no pueden o no quieren ocupar los europeos. Contribuyen al dinamismo demográfico del continente europeo, a mantener la relación entre activos e inactivos que vuelve posible sus generosos sistemas de seguridad social y dinamizan el mercado interno y la cohesión social. Los migrantes ofrecen una solución a los problemas demográficos y financieros de la UE.

Para nosotros, nuestros migrantes representan la ayuda al desarrollo que los Europeos no nos dan – ya que pocos países alcanzan realmente el mínimo objetivo del 0,7% de su PIB en la ayuda al desarrollo. América Latina recibió, en 2006, 68.000 millones de dólares de remesas, o sea más que el total de las inversiones extranjeras en nuestros países. A nivel mundial alcanzan 300.000 millones de dólares, que superan a los 104.000 millones otorgados por concepto de ayuda al desarrollo. Mi propio país, Bolivia, recibió mas del 10% del PIB en remesas (1.100 millones de dólares) o un tercio de nuestras exportaciones anuales de gas natural.

Es decir que los flujos de migración son benéficos tanto para los Europeos y de manera marginal para nosotros del Tercer Mundo ya que también perdemos a contingentes que suman millones de nuestra mano de obra calificada, en la que de una manera u otra nuestros Estados, aunque pobres, han invertido recursos humanos y financieros.
Lamentablemente, el proyecto de “directiva retorno” complica terriblemente esta realidad. Si concebimos que cada Estado o grupo de Estados puede definir sus políticas migratorias en toda soberanía, no podemos aceptar que los derechos fundamentales de las personas sean denegados a nuestros compatriotas y hermanos latinoamericanos. La “directiva retorno” prevé la posibilidad de un encarcelamiento de los migrantes indocumentados hasta 18 meses antes de su expulsión -o “alejamiento”, según el término de la directiva. ¡18 meses! ¡Sin juicio ni justicia! Tal como esta hoy el proyecto de texto de la directiva viola claramente los artículos 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 y 9 de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de 1948.

En particular el artículo 13 de la Declaración reza:
“1. Toda persona tiene derecho a circular libremente y a elegir su residencia en el territorio de un Estado.
2. Toda persona tiene derecho a salir de cualquier país, incluso del propio, y a regresar a su país”.

Y, lo peor de todo, existe la posibilidad de encarcelar a madres de familia y menores de edad, sin tomar en cuenta su situación familiar o escolar, en estos centros de internamientos donde sabemos ocurren depresiones, huelgas de hambre, suicidios. ¿Cómo podemos aceptar sin reaccionar que sean concentrados en campos compatriotas y hermanos latinoamericanos indocumentados, de los cuales la inmensa mayoría lleva años trabajando e integrándose? ¿De qué lado esta hoy el deber de ingerencia humanitaria? ¿Dónde está la “libertad de circular”, la protección contra encarcelamientos arbitrarios?

Paralelamente, la Unión Europea trata de convencer a la Comunidad Andina de Naciones (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador y Perú) de firmar un “Acuerdo de Asociación” que incluye en su tercer pilar un Tratado de Libre Comercio, de misma naturaleza y contenido que los que imponen los Estados Unidos. Estamos bajo intensa presión de la Comisión Europea para aceptar condiciones de profunda liberalización para el comercio, los servicios financieros, propiedad intelectual o nuestros servicios públicos. Además a título de la protección jurídica se nos presiona por el proceso de nacionalización del agua, el gas y telecomunicaciones realizados en el Día Mundial de los Trabajadores. Pregunto, en ese caso ¿dónde está la “seguridad jurídica” para nuestras mujeres, adolescentes, niños y trabajadores que buscan mejores horizontes en Europa?

Promover la libertad de circulación de mercancías y finanzas, mientras en frente vemos encarcelamiento sin juicio para nuestros hermanos que trataron de circular libremente. Eso es negar los fundamentos de la libertad y de los derechos democráticos.

Bajo estas condiciones, de aprobarse esta “directiva retorno”, estaríamos en la imposibilidad ética de profundizar las negociaciones con la Unión Europea, y nos reservamos del derecho de normar con los ciudadanos europeos las mismas obligaciones de visa que nos imponen a los Bolivianos desde el primero de abril de 2007, según el principio diplomático de reciprocidad. No lo hemos ejercido hasta ahora, justamente por esperar buenas señales de la UE.

El mundo, sus continentes, sus océanos y sus polos conocen importantes dificultades globales: el calentamiento global, la contaminación, la desaparición lenta pero segura de recursos energéticos y biodiversidad mientras aumenta el hambre y la pobreza en todos los países, fragilizando nuestras sociedades. Hacer de los migrantes, que sean documentados o no, los chivos expiatorios de estos problemas globales, no es ninguna solución. No corresponde a ninguna realidad. Los problemas de cohesión social que sufre Europa no son culpa de los migrantes, sino el resultado del modelo de desarrollo impuesto por el Norte, que destruye el planeta y desmiembra las sociedades de los hombres.

A nombre del pueblo de Bolivia, de todos mis hermanos del continente regiones del mundo como el Maghreb, Asia y los países de Africa, hago un llamado a la conciencia de los líderes y diputados europeos, de los pueblos, ciudadanos y activistas de Europa, para que no se apruebe e1 texto de la “directiva retorno”. Tal cual la conocemos hoy, es una directiva de la vergüenza. Llamo también a la Unión Europea a elaborar, en los próximos meses, una política migratoria respetuosa de los derechos humanos, que permita mantener este dinamismo provechoso para ambos continentes y que repare de una vez por todas la tremenda deuda histórica, económica y ecológica que tienen los países de Europa con gran parte del Tercer Mundo, que cierre de una vez las venas todavía abiertas de América Latina. No pueden fallar hoy en sus “políticas de integración” como han fracasado con su supuesta “misión civilizatoria” del tiempo de las colonias.

Reciban todos ustedes, autoridades, europarlamentarios, compañeras y compañeros saludos fraternales desde Bolivia. Y en particular nuestra solidaridad a todos los “clandestinos”.

Evo Morales Ayma
Presidente de la República de Bolivia

The Long March from Cinco de Mayo to Cinco de Pentagon

May 5, 2008

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Those of us old enough to remember might recall those halcyon days when celebrating Cinco de Mayo meant many things: closing off a street in what was then known as a “barrio”, listening to sometimes inspired and sometimes less-than-inspired music of long-sideburned Santana wannabees from the local garage bands and eating food infused with the love of the local. And we sort of listened to the bandana’d radical Chicana organizer urging us to become part of the global liberation struggle commemorated on May 5th, when badly-equipped, but inspired Mexican guerrillas defeated the forces of Napoleon III’s French Empire in the 19th century.

Others may recall how, in the 80’s and 90’s, the long lost Decades of the “Hispanic”, many turned local street fairs across the Southwest into the larger, corporate-sponsored, alcohol-drenched festivals whose ghost we can still see today. The proud proclamations of culture and political struggle previously embodied by “Viva el Cinco de Mayo” gave way to the “Hispanic pride” contained in slogans like Budweiser’s “Viva la ReBudlucion!” or Absolut Vodka’s more recent racist -and ultimately failed-attempt to cash in on culture with its ad equating drinking vodka with a fictitious Mexican desire to re-conquer (the dreaded specter of “reconquista” promoted by anti-Latino groups and some media outlets) the Southwest.

Looking back on those days now, it’s clear how Latino children and adults going to Cinco de Mayo celebrations became a “mission critical market” in the clash of corporate empires that define a major part of our lives today. But, as a visit to most of the recent Cinco de Mayo and other Latino-themed celebrations makes clear, Latino events now move to the beat of a new power, that of the U.S. Pentagon.

No longer the small, intimate and largely unknown celebration it was in the 70’s, Cinco de Mayo is now celebrated from San Diego, California to Sunset Park, Brooklyn and beyond. And among the major powers present at such events are the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Ubiquitous at the hundreds of Cinco de Mayo street fairs in towns and cities throughout the country are military recruiters armed with trinkets, video games, loud music and hyper-hip Hummers that draw even more children and families than the colorful (and urine-smelling) playpens McDonald’s still deploys in its Latino outreach efforts.

As African American youth and females of all races continue to reject military recruiters in record numbers, the Pentagon finds itself with no choice but to invest hundreds of millions to capture the hearts and minds of young Latinos. Our children have become “mission critical” to the future of the empire itself. And, so, the U.S. military –and its high powered Hispanic advertising and publicity firms– has brought us a new Latino celebration, the Cinco de Pentagon.

But rather than fight these nefarious designs on our kids (ie; Until recently Chuck E. Cheese included military-themed puppet shows and television shows broadcast in its restaurants) with nostalgia, we should begin by cleaning house within our communities. First on my list would be a call on local and national organizations like LULAC and the National Council of La Raza to stop promoting the military in exchange for Pentagon sponsorship dollars for their events. The recent Pentagon propaganda scandal should not shock anyone who consumes Latino media; Many Latino media outlets are chock full of paid advertising propaganda and they should to stop taking advertising from the various branches of the Armed Forces that’ve turned them into mouthpieces for military recruitment. And, of course, we should approach local organizers of Cinco de Mayo and other events about boycotting the efforts of those who lie to our kids in order to get them to go fight losing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to remind them of the powerful anti-militarism traditions rooted deeply in the Chicano, Puerto Rican and other communities.

I live in New York, which is also called “Puebla York” because of the huge number of Mexicans from Puebla that live there. It’s painful to see how Cinco de Mayo has gone from celebrating the liberation politics and heroism of Puebla to celebrating the recruitment of the descendants of Zaragoza and other Poblanos by the very center of U.S. efforts to destroy global liberation, the Pentagon.

But, all is not lost. Latinos and others across the country have ramped up their efforts to stop the recruitment of Latino youth. Efforts like those in Puerto Rico, counter recruiters have fanned out to all 200 high schools to deliver their anti-militarism message to thousands of students. So, whatever your race, background or creed, if you’re opposed to the war in Iraq and to militarism generally, you might consider stopping recruitment among those without whom the future projections of the military will not be realized: Latino youth. And a good place to start might be to stop celebrating the Cinco de Pentagon and replacing it with something resembling the CInco de Mayo celebrations of old.

Obama, Wright and Zombie Politics in Times of Empire

April 30, 2008

Their fangs still dug deep into the rancid carcass of the “Obama-Wright controversy”, the mainstream media and candidates Clinton and McCain have birthed yet another member of the army of walking dead threatening our political system: the Obama-Wright Zombie (And no, the word “zombie” is not being used with any racial connotations or subtexts……I don’t work for the Clinton’s).

Though the visibly weakened Obama has addressed the the issue in a manner that would slay other issues, the Zombie walks, it lives.

And while I feel for Obama personally and though I hope his candidacy doesn’t succumb to this frenzy of political flesh-eaters, my primary concerns are for what the zombie means for race, politics and religion in the U.S.

I watched Wright’s rather lengthy and often eloquent disquisition and defense and find in Obama’s knuckling under to pressure with today’s denunciation of his former pastor reason for concern. Say what you will about Wright, he is, as he stated in his speech, part of a powerful, anti-racist tradition of liberation and faith. Lost in most of the mainstream coverage of Wright’s speech was the Reverend’s contextualization of his statements and life in the very political tradition of the black church. Wright’s comments about the U.S. as an “imperialistic” power that suffered what military analysts like Chalmers Johnson calls “blowback” were taken out of context and fed the still-lingering appetite of a country that prefers reproducing racial superficialities to reconciling the genocidal acts of its history. Wright reminded his audience that Jesus also predicted that the fall of empire under the weight of its own sins. Had Jesus used metaphors that included “chickens” roosting, he too would be electronically whipped and visually stoned and stoned and stoned again.

Also saddening was hearing Obama “outraged” at Wright’s comments about the consequences of U.S. empire. While we can’t expect someone aspiring to to occupy the seat of imperial power to do anything but defend “American exceptionalism” and other Disneyesque myths designed to coverup the U.S.’s bloody history, we should expect Obama not to reproduce the lies and half truths about race, exploitation and violence that are a part of this history.”Hope” can’t serve as a cover for violence; And talk of “change” shouldn’t magically transport us into a state of amnesia.

Beware of zombie politics and the Svengali politics of Democrats and Republicans.

Immigrants, Border Patrol Criminals and the Politics of Selective Humanity

December 1, 2007

Though this story I wrote for New America Media was a rush job and doesn’t have what I consider a very original or interesting title (I prefer the one I gave it above), there are some things in it that may be of interest. It’s about what I’m calling “the politics of selective humanity”: how some people are more human than others.

It’s partly inspired by the major increase in anti-immigrant violence, abuse, etc. documented by even the FBI in its crime stats, which lack any categories relating to migration status. Despite the exponential increase in anti-migrant incidents, Lou Dobbs and the anti-immigrant echo chamber never make any mention of what immigrants suffer. Instead, Dobbs creates martyrs and humanizes criminals like Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean who were convicted and jailed for shooting at a man 15 times and then trying to cover it up. Contrast what you see on Dobbs show about this case with what you read in this piece from Salon magazine.

In any case, here’s the piece:

Anti-Immigrant Rage Dehumanizes the Undocumented

New America Media, Commentary, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Nov 30, 2007

Editor’s Note: The CNN/You Tube Debate earlier this week showed what a hot-button topic that immigration was — with Republican candidates vying over who has the harshest measures concerning undocumented immigrants. But a closer look at the rising numbers of hate crimes reported against immigrants shows the deadly effects of anti-immigrant rhetoric, writes NAM contributor Roberto Lovato.

The focus of this week’s Republican debate on immigration makes one thing clear: We have entered the age of selective humanity. In other words, some humans are more human than others. Nowhere in the debate talk of “illegal aliens” and “sanctuary mansions” or who or what is “American” was there any notion that the undocumented were humans.

As a result, much of the “debate” around immigration has been and continues to be defined by the rage of the anti-immigrant right, a right that champions and humanizes those that shoot and jail migrants instead of focusing on the migrants themselves – who are stripped of anything beyond the parasitic, criminal image that makes for “fiery” television head-butting. Such a climate does not look at the violence and abuse suffered by migrants. It does not ascribe humanity to them.

The media of just one week yields many examples of how undocumented immigrants suffer through things that no politician or pundit is talking about. For example, the Arizona Republic reported this week about a dramatic rise in the number of undocumented who are kidnapped at gunpoint, held for ransom, tortured and even killed; an analysis of the FBI hate crime statistics by the Southern Poverty Law Center found an estimated 35 percent increase in hate crimes against those perceived to be undocumented including cases like that of a Cuban man killed at an improvised roadblock and that of man sodomized with a patio umbrella pole; in Greensboro, Ga., last week, Police Officer Brent Gulley was caught stealing cash from Latinos pulled over for numerous alleged offenses while in Tucson another undocumented man was shot by authorities under questionable circumstances; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Broward county is investigating an immigration agent who was transporting a 39-year-old mother for deportation to Jamaica and allegedly raped her in his home in what authorities say is the second such incident in the past month.

And to no one’s surprise, Lou Dobbs and the anti-migrant echo chamber exercised their right to selective humanity and regularly and completely ignore these stories and, instead, focus on faux-hero stories like that of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. Ramos and Compean became a cause celebre of the anti-immigrant set after being convicted for firing 15 bullets at a suspected drug dealer and then trying to cover up the evidence. Those who watch Dobbs’ show are saturated with weekly reports about the families of Ramos and Compean and other humanizing stories. These same viewers – and most Americans – haven’t an inkling of the deepening abyss of violence and hate aimed at immigrants.

It’s no coincidence that such incidents come in a climate of increasing racial and economic tension as seen, for example, in the current rise in hate crimes. Sadly, crimes against immigrants go largely unreported not only because of the fear in the immigrant community. As the former president of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, I learned that migration status is not included as a category in most hate crime data-gathering and statistics. So, while the FBI report is helpful, it likely captures little of the official and un-official crimes against those vilified daily on CNN news and debates and in state legislatures.

Some of us are old enough to remember when the politics of selective humanity around immigration started back in the 90s, when the contemporary politics of immigration were first shaped in California. At that time, many Democrats and their allies pointed to polls showing that “moral arguments around immigration don’t work with the voters.” In other words, pollsters were telling them that humanity and humanizing the issue wouldn’t win elections against the immigration wedge-deploying Republicans.

Today, we’ve reached a point in which, not only are “moral” or “humane” immigration policies taboo, but one in which even Democrats like Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) are co-sponsoring punitive, enforcement only policies like the SAVE Act (Secure America through Verification Enforcement). Some of the same Democratic politicos, pollsters and strategists who told us that “moral arguments around immigration don’t work with the voters” are economically richer and more politically powerful. Until both parties recognize the humanity of immigrants, the barrage of horrific stories about crimes directed at this population will continue.

BREAKING NEWS: COLUMBUS STILL EXTREMELY DEAD, HIS LEGACY DYING

October 12, 2007

Más de mil integrantes de diferentes etnias asisten al Encuentro de Pueblos Indgenas de América, en Vcam, Sonora

(Thousands of indigenous Leaders Celebrating Burying Columbus Day)

In case you don’t live in one of those cities where elderly Italians and Spaniards march alongside cops and ROTC-garbed 10 year-old Latino and black kids, you may do well to take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this “Columbus Day.” Consider the meaning of these statements by Colon (Columbus), who was among the first to bring free market capitalism to the Americas:

“Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or of small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given to them.”

Or these by Columbus, bringer of ships and men shaped by the blessings of modern warfare

“They have no iron or steel or weapons, nor are they capable of using them, although they are well-built people of handsome stature, because they are wondrous timid…. [T]hey are so artless and free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it.

Or these choice words from Columbus, the cross-carrying standard bearer of the western banner of progress and efficiency:

“I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased.”

Or, if you prefer, you might practice solidarity meditation by sending some loving kindness to the indigenous people celebrating the Summit of Indigenous People’s of the Americas taking place in Vícam Estación, Sonora, Mexico (see La Jornada) right now. Subcomandante Marcos joined indigenous leaders like purepecha leader Juan Chavez. Chavez opened the meeting by declaring that the Encuentro would “send a message of rebellion from our people who are defending mother earth against ecocidal, ethnocidal and genocidal capitalism” (Are you listening, Al Gore?).

Such was the message thundering throughout the Américas, including the United States Of América.

Though it would’ve been enlightened for anti-capitalist Bolivian President and Aymara leader, Evo Morales, to get the Nobel Peace Prize instead of unflinching capitalist Al Gore, Evo was at work this week doing the work on behalf of indigenous and all people as noted in this article about a recent meeting Bolivia. Morales and other leaders are meeting to make practical the recent UN Declaration recognizing the right of the world’s 370 million indigenous people to autonomy, self-determination and control of their territory and resources.

And This article in today’s UK Guardian talks about how the left turn in America Latina is laying waste to the bloody legacy of Columbus and his political, economic and cultural descendants.

So, yes, there is much to celebrate in these United (and integrating) Nation States Of América

Enjoy yer weekend! Embrace the inner indigena!

BREAKING NEWS: MR. POTATO HEAD, A DRUG-RUNNING LATINO?

October 5, 2007

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Drug Enforcement authorities in Australia conducted a massive raid in which they nabbed a man identified as a “drug-smuggling-immigrant-gang-terrorist” by US officials and anti-immigrant organizations.

While it may be new to the Aussies, we here in the states know the profile all-too-well: the thick black mustache, the brown skin, the big nariz, the cheap tennis shoes and that deceptive smile- all of them a front for what’s really inside- ecstasy. Though authorities declined to say the nationality of the mustachioed culprit, known only as “Senor Papa”, anonymous sources say that the suspect hails from El Salvador or Mexico.

Let’s hope the Aussies, our loyal allies in Iraq, learn from us and start Walling off the island as they declare war on these cartoonish fiends.

For more information, see this story in Australia’s Age newspaper.

MYANMAR MONKS ON MILITARY CRACKDOWN: “WE WILL SEND LOVING KINDNESS TO THEM”

September 26, 2007

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A picture is worth a hundred thousand silences………………

But words like these from monks to their community can be cool too:

“We monks will do this, please don’t join us. Don’t do anything violent. We will send loving kindness to them”

“We Have Great Patience”: Evo Morales Speaks of & to América

September 25, 2007

I had the privilege and honor of having breakfast with Bolivian President Evo Morales this morning. He met with a small group of journalists and discussed a number of issues including the Bolivian economy, US foreign policy (better known as intervencion), the need to extradite former Bolivian President Sanchez de Lozada so he can face genocide charges, indigenous rights and constitutional reform to name a few (more detailed report after his speech at the UN manana).

Most fascinating to me is the way in which, in word, deed and by his very breath, Evo distorts the “truths” of western domination; how he and the indigenous, labor and other movements he represents short circuit the legal, cultural, economic, religious white-mestizo matrix of colonization that is the history Of América. “We’ve been subjugated for 500 years” he told us in response to a question about the obstacles to his political and economic reform program put up by the US-backed “neoliberal” opposition, adding with a smile “We have great patience.”

To hear a head of state firmly, but gently discuss the “descolonización” of the political, economic and cultural systems of the his country and the entire hemisphere -including the “intellectual” and “professional” left- is to understand why the US is trying to put up walls between us and the insurgent continent Of América. But, as he and the indigenous people of the hemisphere and planet are teaching us to act before the walls of empire, “We Have Great Patience.”

Much more on this soon.

MEDITATE & LEARN: MYANMAR MONKS MARCH AGAINST MILITARISM

September 19, 2007

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In what appears to mark the beginning of a saffron-robed revolution, thousands of Buddhist monks have taken to the streets of Myanmar this week as discontent with the military junta – and increased fuel prices – grows rapidly.

The monks peaceful protests follow several violent attacks against the monks and other citizens opposed to fuel hikes and to the junta. According to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, “At least three monks were injured after security forces fired shots into the air and used bamboo sticks to disperse a crowd of 300 monks who were protesting against a massive hike in fuel prices”

In response, the monks temporarily locked members of the security forces inside a monastery.

As fuel prices increase, as housing prices plummet and as growing numbers of children here in the US enter the ranks of the medically uninsured, maybe some of us here should meditate and march against our own budget-and people–killing militarism.

SHORT ON LATINO LEADERSHIP, US CHURCHES OUTSOURCING TO LATIN AMERICA

September 18, 2007

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An article in today’s Hoy Newspaper reports that most major US denominations are going to Latin America to find priests, seminarists and other church leaders that will “help them attend to the needs of the Hispanic faithful, whose numbers are constantly growing.”

These and other trends documented in studies like this Pew Study are clear indicators of nothing less than how Latinos are a defining force in what the study calls”the transformation of American religion.”

The question is: “Which América?”