Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interview with Bishop Santos

Honduras: the Honduran oligarchy 
wants to imprison Bishop Luis A. Santos
Ollantay Itzamná

Monseñor Santos in San Juan de Intibucá, May 31, 2011
Faithful to his prophetic vocation, Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, bishop of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copan, in the Eucharistic celebration on the occasion of the return of ex-president Manuel Zelaya Rosales to the country, last Saturday, May 28, in Tegucigalpa, denounced that “Honduras is looted by a blind and deaf oligarchy which enriches itself at the price of the blood of the people.”

In the face of this prophetic denunciation, the land owner most repudiated on both the national and international level, Miguel Facussé, filed a complaint against Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos for calumny and defamation before on the court tribunals in Tegucigalpa.

Bishop Santos received this information in a work meeting and without losing his internal peace commented: I will present myself to the tribunals when I am summoned. Luis Santos, 74 years old, having served 27 years  as bishop, is an austere man, rigorous in his thinking. As he commented at another time, he renounced his promising ecclesiastical career and opted for the impoverished of his country without haggling over the consequences.

Miguel Facussé is of Arab ancestry who accumulated an irrational fortune in Honduras. In the past few months, the German Bank for Investment and Development (DEG) and the French company EDF Trading suspended an economic loan to him of more than 20 million dollars for an MDL project after an international investigation of the ongoing massacres of landless campesinos in Bajo Aguan.

Based on the complaint of landowner Facussé, an interview was arranged with the bishop of the impoverished, and these were his answers.

Monseñor, what do you believe is the reason at the bottom for intiting this complaint against you?
The bottom-line reason is that the oligarchy has felt itself alluded to in my words (in the Mass on the occasion of the return of ex-president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales) and has wished to react through Miguel Facussé who is a very powerful man in Honduras, enormously rich, a landowner, who has ties at this time with the National Agrarian Institute of Honduras (INAH). It is, simply, a reaction of the oligarchy.

Monseñor, do you believe that this complaint has as its purpose to put the brakes on the emergence of the change processes driven by the social movements in the country?
It’s evident. They think that by pounding on me they are pounding on the National Popular Front for Resistance. And thus it is like an attempt also to put the brakes on the process toward a Constitutional Convention and toward the feet of having a new Political Constitution in Honduras where all the social classes are represented and where effectively the Constitution holds the rights of the poor, of landless campesinos and also of workers and of all the people who suffer marginalization and injustice in Honduras.

Monseñor, have these groups with power reacted in the same manner in the past?
No. They’ve never reacted. I am astonished that they’ve reacted this time, because this – the problems that have happened in the Bajo Aguan [this refers to the unpunished killing of more than 35 campesinos] – is public knowledge. And this is not what I say or fail to say, but it’s what the people in Honduras commonly say.

Monseñor, what do you know of the material capital worth of Mister Miguel Facussé?
Members of the Committee for the Protection of the Flora and Fauna of the Gulf of Fonseca (CODEFAGOL) invited me to a meeting, there I heard that 22 of the 27 beaches in the Gulf of Fonseca are the properties of Facussé. That his son kills the deer and takes them away hanging from helicopters, while the poor people of the campesinos are forbidden to kill any little animal at all. Miguel Facussé has appropriated for himself from the Gulf of Fonseca from the flank of the Honduran.

Monseñor, why does Miguel Facussé fear the process of a constitutional convention?
The possession that Miguel Facussé owns are due to the Agrarian Reform which his friend, Rafael Leonardo Callejas made when he was president of Honduras from 1990 to 1994. They brought in a man named Norton who had made the land reform in El Salvador. They abolished Decree number 8 of the government of Eduardo López Arrellano, which handed over land to the poor campesino, and they made this land reform so that Miguel Facussé would take over ownership of thousands of hectares of land. Now, many of these lands are still being litigated in the National Agrarian Institute.

Monseñor, don’t these scar tactics discourage you in your prophetic attitude?
No. Of course I know that Miguel Facussé has guards on his lands there in Bajo Aguan and that he is a very powerful man. I know that in Honduras that there are also people who kill on commission.

Monseñor, why do you count on the national coming together based on justice and defense of the common goods?
Because I am a bishop. The bishop is father, teacher, and shepherd. Thus, as spiritual father of the people I can view the suffering of the people with indifference. Facing a situation of land ownership in which there are landowners with thousands of manzanas of land while there are campesinos who do not even have the land necessary to plant corn and beans and have some “self-moving” (hens, pigs, cows) for their food. This cries out for a revenge from God. The book of Genesis says that two things cry out fro vengeance from heaven: spilling the blood of a brother and taking the salary away from the worker. It is against that social injustice that I am reacting.

Monseñor, will you remain persevering in you prophetic vocation, even while knowing that the groups with power in Honduras are extremely violent?
Yes. Because during the 45 years I have as an ordained priest I have maintained consistency in my point of view and in what I have spoken. And I have always spoken in public as Jesus of Nazareth said: I have spoken in public; ask those who have heard me.

Translation mine. Thanks to the author for permitting me to translate and distribute this interview. A slightly different Spanish original can be found at at Revistazo.


Joseph de Lange said...

Has anything at all changed since the 1970s and 80s???

Anonymous said...

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Luke 13:34)

The world's heart is very hard. I hope that many people support Bishop Santos.