Category Archives: Latin America

Londrina, Brazil: 9th edition of “A Weapon is not a Toy”

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from the World March for Peace and Nonviolence

The COMPAZ Municipal Council for the Culture of Peace and the OSC Londrina Pazeando, invited the community of Londrina to the ninth edition of the event “A weapon is not a toy”.


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The act was held on November 21 at 2:30 pm in the Municipal Chamber of Londrina.

This year 45 toy stores received the Seal of the Prefecture and City Hall, in a solemn ceremony that was held in the City Hall. Representatives of all stores attended, including those that received the Seal in 2018.

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(Click here for the Spanish original of this article)

Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Sociologist Rangel Bandeira was honored for his book “Weapons for what.” The book includes a chapter that mentions the city of Londrina as the only one in Brazil that has a public policy regarding the disarmament of children and the control of the sale of toy weapons.

(Editor’s note: The first edition of this event was described by CPNN in 2011: Londrina encourages its merchants not to sell toy weapons.)

Another theme at the event was the presentation of the 2nd World March for Peace and Nonviolence

The Base Team of the 2nd World March for Peace and Nonviolence will arrive in Londrina on December 17, 2019, carrying the proposal of A World without Weapons and A World without Wars.

Several activities have taken place in the city in the framework of the March. See more on the march at  http://londrinapazeando.org.br/2-marcha-mundial-pela-paz-e-nao-violencia/ .

The Seal Delivery event is part of the Program of the II Municipal Week of Restorative Justice in Londrina (Law No. 12.624/17) that takes place from November 12 to 21, 2019.

Bolivia: Post-Coup Update

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Eric Zuesse from the Transcend Media Service

 With every passing day, it becomes clearer that the military coup in Bolivia on November 10th was masterminded in Washington DC. This reality will create yet a new difficulty in relations between the U.S. regime and Mexico to its direct south, because the Mexican Government, under progressive President Lopez Obrador, took the courageous and very meaningful step of providing refuge to the U.S.-couped Bolivian President Evo Morales and therefore posed overtly a resistance to the U.S. dictatorship.


President Evo Morales

Unlike the U.S. itself, which has abandoned the substance of democracy while adhering to its fascist Supreme Court’s interpretations (distortions) of the original intent of the democratic America’s Founding Fathers in their U.S. Constitution, Bolivia’s imposed regime isn’t even nominally legitimate in any democratic sense, because it has abandoned that country’s Constitution, ever since it grabbed power there.

One of the first indications that this was another U.S. coup was that on November 10th, the New York Times, which along with the Washington Post is one of the regime’s two main mouthpieces, refused to call it a “coup” at all, though it obviously was. Headlining on November 10th with the anodyne “Bolivian Leader Evo Morales Steps Down”, they lied and alleged that “Mr. Morales was once widely popular” — as if there were any objective measures, such as polls, which indicated that he no longer was. Their concept of ‘democracy’ was like that of fascists everywhere: violent mob actions against a democratically elected Government. “Angry mobs attacked election buildings  around the country, setting some on fire.” Far-right mobs are ‘democracy to ‘journalists’ such as at the New York Times.  

The next day, November 11th, that fascist ‘news’-paper headlined an editorial “Evo Morales Is Gone. Bolivia’s Problems Aren’t.” Here is how they expressed their contempt for democracy: “When a leader resorts to brazenly abusing the power and institutions put in his care by the electorate, as President Evo Morales did in Bolivia, it is he who sheds his legitimacy, and forcing him out often becomes the only remaining option. That is what the Bolivians have done.” ‘Bolivians’ — meaning there that extreme-rightist minority of Bolivia’s electorate. The NYT even had the gall to say contemptuously: “Predictably, Mr. Morales’s left-wing allies across Latin America, including President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, President-elect Alberto Fernández of Argentina and President Miguel Díaz-Canel of Cuba, joined by the British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, cried ‘coup’.”

Britain’s BBC, on November 11th, was considerably more circumspect in their anti-democratic propaganda: for example, in this video, at 13:00, the BBC  asks
“Why are so many of the people out there on the streets now then do you think [demonstrating against Morales]?”

and the respondent didn’t say that this is the way practically every CIA coup is done. So, the desired implication was left with gullible viewers, that this was an expression of a democracy instead of the expression of a fascist mob.

It was left to governments which are resisting U.S. rule to express more honestly, as the Turkish Government’s more honest propaganda-organ, the newspaper Yeni Safak, did finally on November 17th, “Bolivia’s Morales was overthrown by a Western coup just like Iran’s Mosaddeg”. Their columnist Abdullah Muradoğlu wrote:

There are indications that the U.S. was involved in the ousting of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, in a military coup. Secret talks between American senators and Morales’ opponents were brought up before the elections on Oct. 20. The talks, which were leaked to the public, discussed action plans to destabilize Bolivia if Morales won the elections. It was stated that the Evangelical Church would support the coup attempt. The fact that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, known as “Tropical Trump”, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are passionate Evangelicals, points to the ideological link to the Evangelical architects of the Bolivian coup. …

Bolivia has abundant resources of tin, copper, silver, gold, tungsten, petroleum and uranium, as well as large quantities of lithium. Lithium is a strategic mine for space technology. Morales became the target of a pro-U.S. military coup, and policies aimed at allocating the country’s resources to the poor rather than a small group played an important role in his demise. …

But it wasn’t only foreign news-media but also a very few honest alternative-news media which were reporting the realities. For example, on November 11th, The Gray Zone headlined “Bolivia coup led by Christian fascist paramilitary leader and millionaire – with foreign support”. The next day, on November 12th, Moon of Alabama’s anonymous blogger bannered “Lessons To Learn From The Coup In Bolivia” and he summarized the popular democratically elected and re-elected overthrown leader Evo Morales’s enormously successful record of leadership there, such as:

During his twelve years in office Evo Morales achieved quite a lot  of good things:

Illiteracy rates:
2006 13.0%, 2018 2.4%

Unemployment rates
2006 9.2%, 2018 4.1%

Moderate poverty rates
2006 60.6%, 2018 34.6%

Extreme poverty rates
2006 38.2%, 2018 15.2%

It’s no wonder, then, that Morales is so popular in Bolivia.

Then, further about the fascist character of the U.S.-imposed regime, Mint Press News headlined on November 18th, “Media Silent as Bolivia’s New Right-Wing Gov’t Massacres Indigenous Protesters”.

On November 19th, Peoples Dispatch bannered “Hatred of the Indian. By Álvaro García Linera”, and presented a statement by Linera, who was Morales’s Bolivian Vice President. He opened:

Almost as a nighttime fog, hatred rapidly traverses the neighborhoods of the traditional urban middle-class of Bolivia. Their eyes fill with anger. They do not yell, they spit. They do not raise demands, they impose. Their chants are not of hope of brotherhood. They are of disdain and discrimination against the Indians. They hop on their motorcycles, get into their trucks, gather in their fraternities of private universities, and they go out to hunt the rebellious Indians that dared to take power from them.

In the case of Santa Cruz, they organize motorized hordes with sticks in hand to punish the Indians, those that they call ‘collas’, who live in peripheral neighborhoods and in the markets. They chant “the collas must be killed,” and if on the way, they come across a woman wearing a pollera [traditional skirt worn by Indigenous and mestizo women] they hit her, threaten her and demand that she leave their territory. In Cochabamba, they organize convoys to impose their racial supremacy in the southern zone, where the underprivileged classes live, and charge – as if it were a were a cavalry contingent – at thousands of defenseless peasant women that march asking for peace. They carry baseball bats, chains, gas grenades. Some carry firearms.

On November 26th, the Libya 360 blog headlined “Bolivia: they are killing us, comrades!” and reported:

We are receiving audios all the time, from different parts of Bolivia: Cochabamba, El Alto, Senkata, La Paz… They bring desperate cries from women, from communities that resist with dignity, under the murderous bullets of the military, police, and fascist groups armed by the oligarchies with the support of Trump, Macri, and Bolsonaro. They also bring voices that denounce, voices that analyze, voices that organize, voices that are in resistance. There are weeping voices that are remade in slogans. The united peoples will never be defeated!

The racist, fascist, patriarchal, colonial, capitalist coup d’etat seeks to put an end to all these voices, silence them, erase them, make them inaudible. The communicational fence seeks to crush and isolate the words of the people. The conservative, capitalist restoration, goes for lithium, goes for the jungle, goes for bad examples.

The voices continue to arrive. New spaces of communication are generated. The social and family networks, the community radio stations, the home videos made from cell phones are functioning by the thousands. It is heartbreaking to hear bullets. To see their journey through the flesh, invading the bodies that rise from all humiliations. It generates anger, impotence, indignation, rage.

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Question related to this article:

Why was Morales ousted from Bolivia by a coup d’etat?

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On the same day, that same blog bannered “The People Will Not Allow the Coup in Bolivia, says Venezuelan Ambassador”. This opened:

One of the first ‘promises’ made by the self-proclaimed, de-facto government of opposition senator Jeanine Áñez was to “hunt down” ex-minister Juan Ramón Quintana, Raúl García Linera – brother of vice-president Álvaro García Linera -, as well as the Cuban and Venezuelan people that live in Bolivia.

The threat was publicly declared by the interior minister Arturo Murillo, designated by Áñez.

Later on, the communications minister of the de facto government, Roxana Lizárraga, accused Cuban and Venezuelan diplomats of being responsible for the violence unleashed in the country.

The statements came after an attack on the Venezuelan diplomatic office in La Paz on November 11. Armed paramilitaries surrounded the embassy with explosives and threatened to invade the building.

However, the aggression did not begin with the coup. According to Crisbeylee González, who served as the Venezuelan ambassador in Bolivia for more than 10 years, since 2008, the embassy has suffered threats from the organizations in opposition to Evo Morales and Álvaro García Linera.

During the days of tension, Crisbeylee, who is also a personal friend of Morales, decided to protect her team and she returned to her country.

On November 17, the Venezuelan diplomatic staff, made up of 13 functionaries and their family members, flew with the Venezuelan state company Conviasa from La Paz to Caracas.

Upon returning to her country, the ambassador spoke to Brasil de Fato and denounced the terror she suffered in the last couple of days.

Brasil de Fato:

How did you all take the news that you would have to leave the country? Was there any hostility before the coup?

Crisbeylee González:

For a while now, the opposition has talked about a “Chavista bunker” referring to the Venezuelan embassy, where we would supposedly be “ideologically orienting” the Bolivian people’s movements and youth. They even talked about us supposedly exerting pressure on Evo so that he would not abandon the socialist, Bolivarian proposal.

There were always certain times when the xenophobia increased, especially during elections. Every time that there were elections or a coup attempt, the principal target is always of course president Evo Morales but right after that, it’s the Venezuelan embassy. The diplomatic mission has always been an element that must be combated.

Since 2012 when there was a coup attempt by the police, they began to say that our embassy carried out military training with the Bolivians. A very similar discourse to what was created in Chile against the Cubans during the rule of Salvador Allende.

And with this, they were able to create a strong expression of xenophobia within the Bolivian middle classes against Venezuelans. The media also helped to create this adverse discourse against Venezuelans.

In these past couple of days [since the coup], one of the first things that they did was to say that the Venezuelans had to leave and that they were going to attack the Venezuelans. Before the elections on October 20, they already talked about attacking the embassy. …

The next day, on November 27th, they headlined “The U.S. Launches Itself in the Most Violent Way Imaginable to Definitively Seize Bolivia”. They interviewed Argentine sociologist Atilio Boron, one of the most internationally renowned political analysts today, so that in just three questions he can give us his vision of the crisis Bolivia is going through.

How would you characterize the coup d’état in Bolivia?

Without a doubt, the coup d’état in Bolivia is part of the tradition of the old military coups sponsored by the United States since the end of World War II. However, this practice dates back even further, as the history books show us. That means that the soft coup that was applied against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, Lugo in Paraguay and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, has been abandoned and the old formulas have returned. In Bolivia, the old formulas were applied, because in reality there was no possible propagandistic basis for the coup. There was no fraud in Bolivia and therefore the OAS avoided using that expression, instead making euphemistic recommendations.

Furthermore, recent studies from the United States convincingly prove that such fraud did not exist. The University of Michigan study (which is the most important center for electoral studies) confirms this. However, the coup plan was not going to stop in the face of these details. They wanted to get Evo out and take revenge. It was a very clear lesson against those Indians who, as they did in 1780, revolted against the Spanish viceroyalty. Somehow what is happening now is a replay of Túpac Katari’s deed. The scenarios have changed and imperialism is different, but the essence is the same. And now, as yesterday, it is being repressed with unprecedented ferocity. …

On November 28th, Peoples Dispatch and Libya 360 simultaneously headlined “Bolivia: What Comes After the Coup?” and opened:

It has been over two weeks since the coup d’état which forced the resignation and exile of President Evo Morales and Vice-president Álvaro García Linera. Since then, thousands of working-class and Indigenous Bolivians have been resisting on the streets the coup and the illegitimate government of Jeanine Áñez. They have been met with extreme violence from the Armed Forces and the National Police, over 30 have been killed, hundreds injured and hundreds have been arrested.

On Monday night, a new agreement was announced reached between the de facto government of Áñez and the legislators from the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) to hold elections in the country in the next 3-4 months.

Peoples Dispatch spoke to Marco Teruggi, an Argentine sociologist and journalist who spent several weeks in Bolivia before and after elections were held in order to understand the agreement reached on elections and the state of resistance in the country.

Peoples Dispatch:

Starting with the most recent, what do you think about the agreement that MAS made with the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez? Did they have another option? Was there enough force on the streets and in the Assembly to achieve anything else?

Marco Teruggi:

The first thing to keep in mind is that in the design of the coup d’état, from the beginning, the possibility of an electoral solution was always contemplated in order to gain legitimacy.

If you had to arrange it in steps, there is the first step which is the overthrow, a second step which is the creation of a de facto government, and all of this accompanied by persecution, repression and massacres. The third moment is the call for elections and the fourth moment is when the elections themselves happen.

This was always proposed in the basic design, it was never about an old-style coup d’état where a de-facto government is installed for an undetermined amount of time, but precisely part of its presentation was to show itself as a democratic process, recognized internationally, under the condition that later they would go to elections.

It was always expected, the question was in what moment, with what conditions, both for the coup supporters and for those who are confronting it. In this sense, this issue was being discussed in the Assembly, where MAS has a majority, and as they had been announcing, they gave the OK for an agreement, in law, to call for elections, wherein the results of the elections of October 20 are also annulled.

I think that just as it was clear that the coup strategy counted with an electoral resolution to legitimize itself, it also was clear early on that the strategy of the MAS legislators was to hold these elections in the most favorable conditions possible. Basically that MAS could present itself in the elections, which it achieved, and with guarantees for Evo, not to participate, but to prevent political-juridical persecution. And also the retreat of the soldiers, for them to return to their barracks, and that the decree which exempts them from penal responsibility in operations of “re-establishing order” is withdrawn.

As such, it is not surprising that MAS has said yes to the elections because it was not going to be possible to remove Áñez through street pressure, even though the actions on the streets conditioned the initial strategy of the coup. It is very important to keep this in mind because otherwise, one could think that MAS proposed a change of tactics, of strategy. But no, it was always the electoral solution, and either way, the streets were an important component to accelerate this process on both ends. …

So, in short: rigged ‘elections’ will be held, in which Evo Morales is to be excluded, and in which there will be no repercussions against the U.S.-stooge-regime participants if their side fails to win those ‘elections’. The Bolivian people won’t have any legal right to hang the coupsters. The U.S. regime will see to that.

Catholic church denounces ‘attacks’ on Amazon people and forest

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Chloé Farand from Climate Change News

The Catholic church in the Amazon has denounced attacks on the environment and the life of indigenous people — setting out on a collision course with Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro.

Catholic bishops from the Amazon region committed to a more active role in the world’s most important forest following three weeks of discussions at the first Amazon synod in Rome.


Pope Francis with indigenous representatives in Rome for the first Amazon synod. (Photo: Amazon Synod of Bishops)

In a statement  concluding the synod on Saturday, they called on countries to stop considering the forest as “an inexhaustible pantry” and to end large scale extractive activities such as mining and forest extraction, large infrastructure projects and the promotion of monoculture and extensive livestock farming.

Bishops agreed that “one of the main causes of destruction in the Amazon is predatory extractivism that responds to the logic of greed,” which they said had been “at the root of conflicts” in the region.

“In this way,” the statement said, “the church undertakes to be an ally of the Amazonian people to denounce the attacks on the life of the indigenous communities, the projects that affect the environment, the lack of demarcation of their territories, as well as the economic model of predatory and ecocidal development.”

The synod, which was called by Pope Francis in 2017, was the result of a two-year consultation process by the Catholic church across the Amazon basin, asking more than 80,000 people how the church should engage in the region.

Bishops agreed the need for an alternative development plan for the Amazon, focused on indigenous rights and environmental protection – in stark opposition to Brazilian president Bolsonaro’s own plan for the forest.

The Amazon basin is located across nine countries but about 60% of the forest cover is contained within Brazil’s borders, the country with the largest Catholic population in the world.

Bolsonaro was elected on a campaign pledge to open-up the Amazon for mining and developments. Although land disputes across the Amazon are not new, his rhetoric against indigenous people has emboldened land-grabbers, loggers and miners to encroach indigenous territories, leading to violence and murders.

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Question for this article

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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spike in deforestation  and the degradation of the world’s largest tropical rainforest has also sparked serious concerns the Amazon is releasing more carbon than it is absorbing. Indigenous communities have been widely recognised as the most effective guardians against the destruction of the forest [See Brazil’s indigenous tribes protest Bolsonaro assimilation plan].

Under the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people, indigenous communities have a right to “own, use, develop and control” their lands and states must “give legal recognition and protection to these lands”.

Across the Amazon region, these rights have come under growing pressure from farming and extracting industries, something the synod described as “scandalous”.

In Brazil, the constitution entrenches indigenous land rights in law but Bolsonaro is expected to announce a raft of draft measures  to revise indigenous demarcations in favour of the agribusiness industry.

Paulo Moutinho, a co-founder and senior scientist at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), told Climate Home News the synod’s proposals had “potential to create a conflict between the church and the Brazilian government administration” but also the “potential to reach a great audience” given the church’s presence across the region.

“If the Bolsonaro administration will listen to what the church is saying, that is another story,” he said.

Under the church’s plan, a development model would be established in partnership with Amazon communities and scientific institutions to support “sustainable economy, circular and ecological” projects, such as bio-production cooperatives and sustainable forest reserves.

Reverend Augusto Zampini, director of development and faith at the Vatican who was involved in the organisation of the synod, told Climate Home News the meeting was focused on concrete actions the church could take “to respond to the destruction of the biological heart of the planet and its people”.

“There is no way you can respond by doing the same thing that we have been doing for ages,” he said, citing the need for cross-border structures across the region. “We have to change and we want the world to change as well.”

Proposed changes also include the ordination of married men as priests and to re-open the debate on ordaining women as deacons to address the scarcity of clergy in the region.

For the church to become “an ally” of the indigenous people also means that it has to take into account “their own knowledge and their own wisdom,” Zampini said. “We want a model that creates value for the land, for the people and for the economy.”
While he acknowledged the move was in direct contradiction with Bolsonaro’s policies, he insisted the church was “not against anybody nor against the right of nations to decide what they want for their countries”.

“Countries have the right to develop themselves but they don’t have the right to destroy their own people. There are laws in Brazil that need to be respected,” he added. “If we don’t save the Amazon, we won’t save the planet.”

Top 5 takeaways from the Amazon synod

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article by Luke Hansen, S.J. in America, the Jesuit Review

The three-week Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region, on the theme, “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for Integral Ecology,” concluded on Oct. 27 in Rome. Here are five key takeaways from the synod.


Indigenous people carry offertory gifts as Pope Francis celebrates the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 27, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

1. The synod was prophetic in placing Amazonian and indigenous communities at the center of the synod process and for making a clear option for these communities over foreign economic interests.

In the two-year preparatory process for the synod, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, or REPAM, coordinated about 300 listening sessions in the Amazonian region. About 22,000 people were directly involved in the territorial assemblies and smaller dialogue groups, and another 65,000 people participated in parish groups.

At the synod itself, there were 16 representatives of different Amazonian indigenous communities who shared their faith and cultural heritage with the synod and delivered compelling personal testimonies about the negative effects of climate change and extractive activities. Several of these indigenous leaders appeared at Vatican press briefings during the synod, speaking passionately about what is at stake for their communities.

On Oct. 16, Yesica Patiachi Tayori, a bilingual teacher and member of the indigenous pastoral team in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, described the decimation of her people, the Harakbut indigenous community, used as cheap labor and murdered by the thousands after the invasion of their land by rubber companies.

A few decades ago the Harakbut were as many as 50,000; they have been reduced to as few as 1,000 people today. Ms. Tayori said she made a direct appeal to Pope Francis to bring their story to the international level so that her people, faced with continuing external threats, do not go extinct.

At the synod, “the periphery speaks from the center with the awareness that its experience is heard as a prophetic voice for the whole church,” said Antonio Spadaro, S.J., a synod member and the editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, in an interview with Vatican News. “And, precisely for this, it is judged by some as disturbing.”

2. At the heart of the synod process and the final document is conversion at the pastoral, cultural, ecological and synodal levels.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., a special secretary for the synod,  presenting the final document at a Vatican briefing on Oct. 26, underlined the synod’s call for these four conversions (pastoral, cultural, ecological and synodal)because, he said, there are “no new paths” and “no real change” without these conversions.

“With the Amazon burning,” he said, “many more people are realizing that things have to change. We cannot keep repeating old responses to urgent problems and expect to get better results.” Referring to the urgent need for ecological conversion at both the personal and communal levels, the cardinal said the ecological crisis is so deep that if we don’t change, “we’re not going to make it.”

Several synod participants pointedly challenged Europeans and North Americans to examine and change their lifestyles and engage in political action in solidarity with Amazonian communities who bear the burden of climate change and the activities of multinational companies involved in mining and deforestation.

People who live in Europe and North America have a “heightened responsibility” for political action in support of indigenous communities since “we live from the benefits of this tragic exploitation in most parts of the world,” said Josianne Gauthier at a Vatican briefing on Oct. 14.

Ms. Gauthier, a Canadian and the general secretary of CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic solidarity organizations, said her role at the synod was “to listen to voices we don’t have direct access to all the time” and to consider how to support indigenous communities after the synod through “political pressure” in international political instruments.

3. This special synod—the first Synod of Bishops to be organized around a distinct ecological territory—sought to practice what it preached regarding “integral ecology” and care for our common home.

In this regard, synod organizers undertookseveral important measures: implementing an online registration process in order to avoid printing paper; utilizing bags, pens and cups made with biodegradable materials rather than plastics; and most significantly, to be a “carbon neutral” synod, the organizers offset the emissions spent to get more than 200 participants from South America to Rome—estimated at 572,809 kilograms of carbon dioxide—with the purchase of 50 hectares (123 acres) of new growth forest in the Amazon.

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Question for discussion

The understanding of indigenous peoples, Can it help us cultivate a culture of peace?

Religion: a barrier or a way to peace?, What makes it one or the other?

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“The synod is a son, a daughter, of ‘Laudato Si’,’” the encyclical published by Pope Francis in 2015, said Mauricio López, the executive secretary of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, inan interview with America.

“The synod is not the end of the road,” Mr. López said, “but the beginning of a new stage for the church in the Amazon, planting the seeds of metanoia, of radical conversion, from within, at this kairos moment.”

4. All 120 paragraphs of the synod’s final document (currently available in Spanish only) were approved with the necessary two-thirds majority vote, including proposals related to married priests and women deacons.

Even though these highly debated proposals had the most votes against them, the synod was able to find language to satisfy large majorities of voting members. It is a remarkable accomplishment, considering that even discussion about such questions was strongly discouraged in previous papacies.

In the paragraph on married priests, the synod noted that many Amazonian communities go for a year or more without the Eucharist and other sacraments because of a serious shortage of priests; that celibacy is a “gift from God” but also “not required by the very nature of the priesthood”; and that criteria should be established for the priestly ordination of “suitable and esteemed men of the community, who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate.” The bishops supported the proposal, 128 to 41.

In the paragraph on women deacons, the synod acknowledged that in “a large number” of the consultations carried out in the Amazon, “the permanent diaconate for women was requested,” adding that the theme was also important during the synod. Then, referring to the Study Commission on the Diaconate of Women that Pope Francis had established in 2016, the synod expressed its desire “to share our experiences and reflections with the Commission and await its results.” This paragraph received the support of 137 bishops, with 30 against.

In his remarks at the synod’s closing session, Pope Francis decided to immediately respond to this proposal, assuring the 265 synod participants that he would reconvene the commission, perhaps with new members. “I take up the challenge” for the synod “to be heard” on this topic, the pope said, as the synod hall responded with applause.

Several bishops and other participants spoke strongly in favor of women deacons throughout the synod, but perhaps the most compelling case was made by Bishop Evaristo Pascoal Spengler, O.F.M., of Marajó, Brazil, on the eve of the highly anticipated voting on the final document.

At the synod’s conclusion, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, a papal appointee to the Amazon synod, told America in an interview, “It was clear to me that the majority of bishops at the synod were in favor of recommending women to be in the diaconate.”

The bishop also said the pope’s closing comments “certainly signaled” that the papal commission would have “a new perspective and new people” looking at the possibility of women deacons “to see is there a way that this can be accomplished.”

5. Since his election as pope in March 2013, Pope Francis has transformed the Synod of Bishops into a privileged place of discernment and conversion.

Through the enhanced preparatory process, the increased participation of lay women and men as experts and auditors, the encouragement to speak freely on controversial topics and the rich discussions in small groups, Pope Francis has ensured that the synod is a place of encounter, listening and dialogue with others and with the Spirit, in which everyone is invited to let go of expectations and be open to conversion.

The synod is “not a discussion, not a parliament,” but there is “a spiritual dynamic,” said Giacomo Costa, S.J., the synod’s secretary for information, at a Vatican press briefing on Oct. 16. The biblical image, he said, is “the blind man who throws away his cloak to go to God,” and for the synod it means “to leave behind the safety of your arguments.”

The synod “is a path of discernment” that must “leave space for the Spirit,” Father Costa said.

On the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops in 2015, Pope Francis said that God expects the church to follow the “path of synodality” in the third millennium.

Synodality refers to the active participation of the whole People of God in the life and mission of the church, according to the International Theological Commission. It means embracing the diversity of charisms, vocations and ministries of God’s people.

Alternative justice strengthens the culture of peace in Chiapas

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from NVI Noticias

By means of ongoing legal studies, compliance and training for the Criminal Reform, the Judiciary of the State of Chiapas continues to take actions for the benefit of Chiapas, particularly highlighting the resolution of disputes, a tool that helps to guarantee justice in Chiapas.

In this regard, it is pertinent to mention that in Chiapas, as in the entire Mexican Republic, since the Criminal Reform of 2008 a series of relevant changes were initiated in the Justice System, which was a revolution in the way in which that disputes were resolved.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Discussion question

Restorative justice, What does it look like in practice?

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One of these great changes was the application of Alternative Justice as a tool for conflict resolution, which aims to reach an agreement between those involved through voluntary cooperation and dialogue.

The entire implementation process has implied adaptations and updates of various kinds, both in citizens and in institutions. Recently, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation published two theses issued by Collegiate Circuit Courts, related to this tool of justice, which have an impact on the performance of specialists in the field; as well as in the courts of the entire entity.

That is why the magistrate president of the Judicial Power of the State, Juan Óscar Trinidad Palacios, has instructed all the staff of the State Center for Alternative Justice in Chiapas (JSCA), headed by director Elisheba Goldhaber Pasillas to continue the training of traditional, control and trial courts, to provide greater legal services to citizens.

In this regard, the regional deputy director of JSCA San Cristóbal, Rodrigo Domínguez Moscoso, said that the first of the theses published by the Collegiate Circuit Courts, “establishes that alternative justice constitutes a human right of constitutional rank. With the amendment to article 17 of the Constitution, the State ceases to be the only one empowered to resolve disputes between people, but rather alternative justice is born, so that the people themselves are the ones who resolve their conflicts with the help of mediators and conciliators. ”
 

The Amazon Synod: “Plus Tard Sera Trop Tard”

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An opinion piece by Michael Schuck from the Berkley Center, Georgetown University

It is a Society of Jesus tradition to test the validity of a teaching by the actions that it inspires. While composing Laudato Si, Jesuit Pope Francis was no doubt already contemplating an action to animate his breakthrough encyclical. The recently concluded Roman Catholic Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region was just that action. At the synod’s opening, Pope Francis called the gathering the “first child” of Laudato Si.


Photo from Reuters/Vatican Media as carried by Sputnik News

Two and a half years of preparation led to the three-week synod which met under the title “The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for Integral Ecology.” From October 6 to 27, hundreds of bishops, priests, religious women, experts, and observers discussed how the Church might better serve the Indigenous Peoples of Amazonia and the Amazon rainforest itself. The result was a Final Document approved by the 184 voting members and issued on October 26, to which Pope Francis is expected to respond with an apostolic exhortation by December.

In his final synod remarks, Pope Francis asked that people not let their attentions get absorbed into the details of ecclesiastical subjects such as the ordination of married men, the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate, and the creation of an Amazon Catholic liturgical rite, but stay focused on the big, overall themes that emerged during the synod. This is where the “fire” of the Spirit would be manifest. At this early juncture, it appears that at least four themes arose and deeply stirred the synod participants in their proceedings and their Final Document: listening, conversion, action, and urgency. 

Listening

The history of Church evangelization in lands of Indigenous peoples reveals how listening has not always translated into truly hearing. Synod delegate Bishop Medardo Del Río from Colombia insisted that walking together and truly hearing Indigenous Peoples “means trying to understand what indigenous communities need and what they want.” Bishop Adriano Ciocca Vasino, prelate of São Félix do Araguaia, Brazil, added that “We need to enter more deeply into their mentality” to better understand “the soul of their spirituality.” This can make genuine human and environmental insight available to the Church. As the Final Document affirms, the Church needs to listen to the “fundamental wisdom” of Indigenous Peoples who have “for thousands of years…taken care of their land, their waters and their forests” (14). 

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Question for discussion

The understanding of indigenous peoples, Can it help us cultivate a culture of peace?

Religion: a barrier or a way to peace?, What makes it one or the other?

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Conversion


The Final Document candidly admits that the Church needs to “unlearn, learn, and relearn, in order to overcome any tendency toward colonizing models that have caused harm in the past” (81). This requires real conversion, a major topic in the synod proceedings and the organizing principle for the Final Document’s four chapters. At the press briefing on October 26, Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Special Secretary for the Amazon Synod, directed attention back to the “New Paths” in the synod title. With that in mind, he stated that “conversion means change and without change there will be no new paths”…we will just be “repeating what we’ve done before.” The Final Document reiterates: “Listening to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor and of the peoples of the Amazon with whom we walk, calls us to a true integral conversion” (17).

Action


In press briefings and interviews, synod delegates recounted how deeply they were stirred by the testimonies of Indigenous Amazonian men and women. Some delegates were brought to a frank, public acknowledgement of their complicity in rainforest destruction and a personal commitment to greater environmental awareness and simpler lifestyles. Among the Church actions called for in the Final Document include:


– stopping excessive consumption;
– decreasing production of solid waste;
– stimulating reuse and recycling;
– reducing dependence on fossil fuels, use of plastics, and consumption of meat and fish;
– seeking sustainable alternatives in agriculture, energy, and transportation;
– divesting in extractive companies;
– reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases related to climate change;
– developing new (circular) economic models;
– promoting education in integral ecology at all levels (especially a new Amazon University);
– defending the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples;
– restoring the ancestral wisdom of the Indigenous Peoples;
– distancing the Church from the new colonizing powers;
– ordinating “suitable and esteemed” married men to the priesthood; 
– and creating “a liturgical rite for the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.”

Urgency

A sense of urgency pervaded the testimonies of Indigenous men and women throughout the synod. One delegate remarked that the mood was “plus tard sera trop tard”—later will be too late. At the final press briefing, Cardinal Czerny remarked that the ecological and human crisis is so deep that without this sense of urgency “we’re not going to make it.” This bold assertion was matched by the Final Document’s declaration that “integral ecology is not one more path that the Church can choose for the future in this territory, it is the only possible path.” For the synod delegates this urgency was not only a matter social and ecological justice, but also a matter of the soul. As Archbishop Pedro Guimarães from Palmas, Brazil reflected, “While we profess the Creed that we believe in God the creator of heaven and earth, we continue to sin against nature—without even questioning ourselves.” For Pope Francis, this questioning is long overdue. For our Indigenous brothers and sisters, our planet, and our souls, later will surely be too late. 

 Dominican Republic: Education ministry continues training on ethics, culture of peace and protection of rights

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article from CDN (translation by CPNN)

More than 250 regional, district and educational center directors of the province of Valverde participated in the third day of training on the guidelines of ethics and public integrity, strategies of culture of peace in schools and the protection of rights of children and adolescents. It was organized by the Ministry of Education to empower the actors of the education system on these issues.

The idea of ​​these meetings arose at the initiative of the Minister of Education, Antonio Peña Mirabal, after carrying out an activity to prepare for the beginning of the school year that involved the General Directorate of Ethics and Government Integrity (DIGEIG) and the National Directorate of Children , Girls and Adolescents, and the idea is to develop them in all the regional education of the country.

The conferences, organized through the Vice Ministry of Technical and Pedagogical Affairs of MINERD, are held jointly with the aforementioned public institutions, as well as the General Directorate of Special Programs of the Presidency (DIGEPEP) and the National Council for Children and Adolescence (CONANI).

Minerva Pérez, general director of Orientation and Psychology of the MINERD, presented the culture of peace in the educational centers. She explained that for a long time the Ministry of Education has been working on different actions to guarantee standards of coexistence in the campuses, and that they should be known by all the actors involved in pre-university education.

“This is the third day of a schedule that we have designed to reach all the provinces of the country. The response we have received from the teachers who have participated in these meetings has been very satisfactory, because they have heard, but also, they have expressed the day-to-day concerns of their educational centers, ”said Pérez.

When presenting the National Strategy for the Culture of Peace in the Educational Centers, Pérez explained that it was designed by the MINERD, with the aim of fostering a harmonious coexistence in schools throughout the educational community and she urged the directors to implement it.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

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She added that the purpose of this activity is to empower principals with these strategies in order to guarantee the rights of students. They need to know Law 136 on the Protection of Children and Adolescents, and the measures that must be taken to guarantee those rights.

Shee argued that every manager, principal or teacher has to know what the risks are that a student runs when the appropriate measures are not taken to guarantee his rights.

Shee stressed that knowledge of the peace culture protocol is important for principals and teachers, since this document also emanates the rules of coexistence and the three rules of action: one for cases of school violence, another for cases of bullyng and the latter for cases of sexual abuse. These actions may occur in any school, so they must be prepared to know how to address each situation when it occurs.

“From the MINERD and the Direction of Orientation and Psychology I want you to know that you are not alone, that you have our support so that you in the educational centers can have a harmonious coexistence. The fact that the Procuraduría, CONANI, DIGEIG and the Ethics Department have accompanied us continues to give us a message that we are not alone in the different educational centers, ”said Pérez.

The general director of Ethics and Government Integrity, Lidio Cadet, said that ethics implies consideration for society, respecting and loving the person, and that the teacher must have love for the country itself and for the family.

Cadet explained that rectitude is a key value for the educator and the student, and that it was a challenge made by Minister Peña Mirabal, to carry out these workshops throughout the country with a view to the formation of public ethics commissions in the educational centers.

“He is determined (the minister) that management must be characterized by ethics, by the values ​​of transparency, and that this implies working to have a quality education. Students should be taught to be able to integrate into society as a transporter of new avenues of justice and peace,” said Cadet.

On the day of the Regional 09 of Valverde, MAO, Estefany Pérez, representative of the DIGEPEP, spoke on the issue of the restoration of fundamental rights, social inclusion and educational system; while the person in charge of the regional technical office of CONANI, Johanna Estévez, spoke about the implementation of the National Campaign for the Promotion of Positive Parenting.

The regional director, Henry Rodríguez, spoke the words of welcome and motivation of the workshop, while Ana Paredes, prosecutor for MAO also participated in the activity.

The third meeting was held at the Sacred Heart of Jesus School, belonging to the 09-01 Educational District, MAO, where 266 directors of the districts of Esperanza, Laguna Salada, Sabaneta, Monción and Villa los Almácigos took part. This Wednesday 30 the day takes place in Monte Plata and in the next few days there will be training in Barahona and Santo Domingo.

Eighth Fair of Nonviolent Initiatives was held in Quito, Ecuador

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from Pressenza (translation by CPNN)

The 8th annual Fair of Nonviolent Initiatives In the framework of Nonviolent October, was held this morning and afternoon in Cumandá Parque Urbano, in the city of Quito,.

Hundreds of people visited stands and participated in recreational and visual activities, with pets and brain teasers, among others. This fair has become a reference of activities and initiatives for nonviolence, non-discrimination and inclusion.

Questions for this article:

Can festivals help create peace at the community level?

Nonviolent Octubre and the Fair of Nonviolent Initiatives seek to make visible the existing initiatives that promote nonviolence in the city and in the country, around. At the same time, they sensitize increasing numbers of the population about the importance of working in a nonviolent perspective.

It should be noted that in 2019, October for Peace and Nonviolence has the strong support of the Metropolitan District of Quito. The City Council approved Resolution No. C 067 – 2019 which declares October as the “Month of Nonviolence in the Metropolitan District of Quito” and resolves that the Metropolitan District of Quito “fosters a culture of peace in diversity, free from violence and discrimination”.

As an international antecedent the General Assembly of the United Nations, in Resolution 61/271, has declared October 2 as the International Day of Nonviolence.  With these two brief antecedents, the humanist organizations that converge in the Nonviolent Space have carried out every year, for a decade now, the October for Peace and Nonviolence..

(Click here for the Spanish original.)

Mexico: Culture of Peace with alternative justice strengthened in Guadeloupe

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from Posta (translation by CPNN)

With the goal of spreading alternative justice mechanisms for the solution of problems in schools, families and communities, the Government of Guadalupe headed by Mayor Cristina Díaz has signed an agreement with the International Republican Institute.
8502

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Discussion question

Restorative justice, What does it look like in practice?

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The Mayor of Guadalupe and Máximo Zaldivar, Resident Director of the International Republican Institute, signed the collaboration agreement with representatives of the Judicial Branch of Nuevo León and municipal officials.

During her speech, Díaz Salazar highlighted the commitment of the municipal administration to resolve conflicts through dialogue in a peaceful manner, always according to the principles of justice and a culture of peace.

“It is important not only to establish this mechanism but to spread it in all places as a solution for families that sometimes live with conflict, as a solution in schools and in our commnities,” said the Municipal President.

She added that with the implementation of this project, communication workshops, justice training and the dissemination strategies will be provided, which will allow a continuous improvement of criminal justice.

“For us it is very important to achieve the signing of this agreement with the International Republican Institute where many areas of the public service of the administration are involved. What we seek is a culture of peace in our municipality,” added Díaz Salazar.

Chile: declaration of “World without Wars and Violence”

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

An article from Pressenza

No sociologist or politician could predict what was coming after long years of a neoliberal system that has imposed economic violence on the people, but that as steam inside a pressure cooker, an unstoppable alienation was accumulating, and it exploded with the student protest against the increase in price for the Metro..


(Image by Laura Feldguer)

It is undoubtedly due to the failed economic, political and social model that doesn’t work any more. It is violent and intrinsically perverse. It generates tremendous income inequalities, it cannot provide decent wages for the majority of the population. It generates ambition and greed that pervert and corrupt everyone, even the most honest. Its educational system tends to create highly competitive ambitious technocrats that lack the most fundamental civic values ​​of respect, solidarity and fraternity that are needed in every society.

Like any social explostion, the violence occurred inexorably with the sequel of looting and arson that we have all witnessed, mainly against the detonating agent, the Metro, but also against numerous supermarkets and retail stores.

Probably this same social phenomenon would have occurred with the New Majority or any other government that did not commit to ending the unacceptable inequality. It is the entire political system, the way of doing politics that is violent and discriminative, that is totally discredited before the citizens. It is a cumulative phenomenon that was waiting to explode.

However, this social assault is being co-opted by anarcho-violentists who threaten to burn everything until they leave no stone on stone. Behind them comes the lumpen proletariant that takes advantage of the chaos to loot and to steal while posing as legitimate protesters. And surprisingly, after them come the exploited, who, shamelessly and without being declared criminals, join the looting mob to steal like seasoned thieves. It shows that there are more thieves than we believe and it confirms the saying that it is the opportunity that makes the thief. We need to find ways to defend against these elements that discredit and generate legitimate rejection in public opinion.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Question for this article:

Can peace be guaranteed through nonviolent means?

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The people do not want violence. They are fed up with it. They are beginning to feel fear and insecurity. They rage against the vandals and looters that invade their neighborhoods and shops that supply the essential goods for their livelihood. This fear and insecurity is shared by large and small merchants who no longer dare to open their businesses for fear of looting in broad daylight with the open premises.

The declaration of a State of Emergency and with it the military control of public security, with the curfew as a corollary, was the response of a government that was despaerate. Perhaps it was necessary to contain the violence, but it is repudiated by the population, especially those who lived the darkest periods of the civil-military dictatorship.

Our organization, “World without Wars and without Violence,” understands the dynamics of this social expression as a result of so many years of abuse and corruption of practically all social sectors. But even if the situation of violence is coming to stay, it is necessary to decrease it in frequency and intensity.

Faced with this violent scenario, “World without Wars and without Violence” declares absolutely necessary a comprehensive National Agreement that includes all political and social sectors in an environment of respect, humility and generosity, setting aside all personal and institutional egos, and commiting to carry out the necessary reforms. These include a New Constitution to ensure satisfactory levels of equality, a new pension system that provides decent pensions, an educational reform to be truly free and to form true citizens and a health system that prevents diseases and treats them as soon as they occur. All these social policies should be aimed at the welfare of the people and should not be allowed to become a business that only pursues profit.

“World without Wars and without Violence” advocates Active Nonviolence as a legitimate form of struggle for which it is necessary to avoid all acts of vandalism that pollute and discredit legitimate social mobilization. The non-violent mobilizations that have been seen in our capital are an example of that struggle that is approved and shared by the entire population. These activities should be strongly encouraged to achieve an environment of social cohesion, recognition and tolerance for the other, no matter what differences they may have.

If, after this legitimate protest and a broad national agreement, the social policies are not radically modified, the next step would be a general strike, not with marches or other expressions that can be contaminated by violence, but with civil disobedience against laws and regulations that are clearly unfair. We need expressions that do not require noise or fanfare or insults or disqualifications for anyone, in a framework of full respect for everyone and everything.

All for the good of Chile and its people, “World without Wars and without Violence.”