Monday, November 16, 2009

A civilization of poverty

Twenty years ago today six Jesuit priests at the Central American University in San Salvador and two women, a worker in the university and her daughter, were brutally killed by troops of the Salvadoran army, an army financed by the United States.

The crime of the Jesuits was to take a stand for the poor and to demand justice. The crime of the women was to be poor and to be witnesses to injustice.

Padre Ignacio Ellacuría, the rector of the university, had written on “the civilization of poverty.” The concept – paradoxical as it may be – has captured my imagination and I really would like to pursue it more thoroughly. It’s related to concepts of austerity and moderation but it implies much more. Ellacuría wrote:
“Rather than capital accumulation, the civilization of poverty proposes as dynamizing principle the dignifying of work, of work that will have as its principal object not the production of capital but the perfecting of the human being. Work, viewed at once as the personal and collective means to assure the satisfaction of basic needs and as a form of self-realization, would supersede different forms of self- and hetero-exploitation and would likewise supersede inequalities that are both an affront and the cause of domination and antagonism.”
Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., “Utopia and Prophecy in Latin America,”
in Towards a Society that Serves Its People, p. 75
Jesuit Dean Brackley has noted that this approach subordinates the production of capital to production to satisfy the basic needs of everyone. What a different world that would be.

7 comments:

tejasjeff said...

I have not heard a lot from Cardinal but here is a link to a interview.
"Mr. Zelaya's supporters have put pressure on the church, but despite "constant death threats" the cardinal says he has received, he has not changed his position."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703683804574534260986348376.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_opinion

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

I must disagree with the cardinal on more than one point. But what bothers me is that he has been almost completely silent on the human rights situation under the coup regime. Many people I know would dispute his statement: "Now the army is respected, because they have dedicated themselves to the constitutional role of defending the law and the borders."

tejasjeff said...

Have you personally seen the Army or any Military unit beat,shoot or "disappear" parish members?
You are right in the "hot spot" in opposition to the Government so obviously your area would come in for brutal treatment if this was El Salvador in the 1980s.
Have you seen this?

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

I have seen some wounds inflicted on demonstrators near here. But I urge you to look at the reports of respected international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Our part of the nation is a lot calmer than the capital or San Pedro Sula.

phoenixwoman said...

Tejas Jeff, respected human rights organizations have already documented many murders, not to mention hundreds of shootings and beatings and thousands of illegal jailings by the regime.

It's never easy to document crimes against humanity in a dictatorship. The people who do so are even braver than soldiers, because they enter the lion's den with no weapon except pen and paper.

It is believed by, for example, Sara Aguilar, formerly of the public defender's department that there have been at least 113 murders. That's proportionately as if the US murdered 5000 Americans. It's huge.

Please don't minimize this.

Also, there is absolutely zero substantiation for the Cardinal's accusations. If there had been, considering that the dictatorship controls the phone system, you can bet that they'd have been able to arrest someone. Not surprisingly, they haven't.

--Charles

tejasjeff said...

Radio Globo journalist Eduardo Maldonado has been one of deposed president Manuel Zelaya's key and most vocal supporters during the past few months. He has been a member of the resistance movement that has actively demonstrated in the streets of Honduras in favor of Mr. Zelaya's reinstatement. Yesterday, Mr. Maldonado announced that he will now officially support the campaign of Liberal Party presidential candidate Elvin Santos."
I think that the Organization of American States did not at all help by immediately taking Mel Zelaya's side," noted Mr. van Baalen. He reiterated that he is convinced that the European Union (EU) and international organizations will accept the new president-elect if the elections are conducted in a fair and free manner.
Game Over for Zeleya.
The Armed struggle awaits for those that want to see Horrific Human Rights Abuse. Hugo is in fact finishing a Kalashnikov Assault Rifle Factory to further that.
I pray for peace and reconciliation in Honduras and believe elections (however imperfect) are the path toward that.

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

Tejas Jeff
In this blog I don't believe that I have defended either Zelaya or Higo Chavez.
What I have tried to reflect on and report on is the fate of the poor in this country which is beset by a corrupt political system that favors the economic and political elite who also control most of the means of communication.
As I have stated often, elections will not solve the problem in Honduras; without structural change they may in fact make things worse. It's wishful thinking to think that elections will solve the crisis. Pepe Lobo said, at one point, "Elections are the solution to the problem." If that is so, I'm not sure what he thinks the problem is.

FYI:
Van Baalen is the president of Liberal International which just made Micheletti one of its vice presidents. I am not sure he would be an unbiased source of info on the EU.