Thursday, November 17, 2011

To cry or scream - or organize

Placing two recent reports side by side makes me want to scream.

The first describes how Honduran beef exports have increased by more than 120 percent, exporting about 25 million dollars worth of meet.

The other report noted,
According to the results of a survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), 5.5 million of the estimated 8.2 million people in Honduras live in poverty. Of that number, some 1.7 million live in a state of relative poverty and more than 3.8 million in extreme poverty. Income for households within this segment of the population falls below an index known as the canasta básica (basic [food] basket). Of Honduras' population, an estimated 4.7 million have serious nutritional problems, and an additional 1.7 million can pay for enough to eat but cannot afford basic healthcare, education, or housing.
Is there something wrong here?

Today as I rode with the group from St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames from San Pedro Sula to Santa Rosa de Copán, we passed the plain north of La Entrada. So much flat land with so many cattle grazing there. Who owns most of the land for cattle raising? The economic (and political) elites. Much of the cattle land around here belongs to Jaime Rosenthal.

I know cases of people with land refusing to sell to campesinos and instead try to buy the campesino’s land. How much greed can this country endure?

A report a few months ago noted that eight out of ten campesino families own no land or less than ten acres of land, mostly on hill sides. In contrast, 1% of agricultural producers own a third of the cultivable land, mostly in valleys.

Something wrong – unjust is happening here.

That’s why the voice of the prophetic church must continue to be raised with the poor campesinos struggling for land and livelihood.

Amos wrote, centuries ago, condemning something very similar:
Ah, those who plan iniquity
And design evil on their beds;
When morning dawns, they do it,
For they have the power.
They covet fields and seize the;
Houses, and take them away.
They defraud people of their homes, 
And people of their land.
                       Amos 2, 1-2 (Tanakh translation revised)
 I think it was International Workers of the World labor organizer Joe Hill who said, “Don’t mourn! Organize!” 

May the Church, especially here in the west of Honduras, continue to be with the poor in their struggles for justice, for land, for life!

July 17, 2007 road blockade, Santa Rosa de Copán

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