Posts Tagged ‘Church in Honduras’

La iglesia Hondureña ante el paquetazo

Ene 15, 2014

El Congreso, a propuesta del gobierno del presidente Porfirio Lobo y con la conformidad de don Juan Orlando, ha  aprobado dos normas que desgraciadamente perjudican al pueblo.

En primer lugar, el Parlamento hondureño aprobó a finales de 2013 la Ley de Ordenamiento de las Finanzas Públicas, Control de las Exoneraciones y Medidas Antievasión, orientada a garantizar la estabilidad económica y mejorar la recaudación de impuestos. Ello supone un paquete de medidas de subida de precios e impuestos destinadas a empobrecer al pueblo y enriquecer a las élites económicas.

Es evidente que esta Ley va a ocasionar las protestas de los sectores marginados. Para evitarlas, el Congreso acaba de aprobar la  elevación a rango constitucional de la Policía Militar de Orden Público, destinada a la represión contra los hondureños que manifiesten su indignación públicamente.

Entre otros impuestos y subida de precios del “paquetazo”, se encuentran los productos y servicios, del combustible, la energía eléctrica, los transportes, el cemento, vestidos y calzados, los alimentos, los productos de la canasta básica y la telefonía celular. Para disimular, el gobierno ha aprobado una suave subida del salario mínimo, pero ante la asombrosa subida de precios no frenará la disminución del nivel de vida de los trabajadores.

Asimismo, pretende la Ley que las empresas que ganan más de un millón de lempiras al año tendrán que aportar, además de sus impuestos normales, un 5% adicional de sus ganancias. Claro, todos sabemos que en Honduras pocas empresas cumplirán estos requisitos.

Estas medidas económicas anti-pueblo que causan pobreza, son contrarias a los deseos del papa Francisco en su mensaje de la Jornada Mundial por la Paz 2014, pues considera que los gobiernos deben  hacer “políticas que atenúen la excesiva desigualdad de renta”.

Al parecer, no opina así el Cardenal Arzobispo de Tegucigalpa, Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Madariaga, pues según el Diario La Tribuna del 4 de enero, dijo: “que tristemente era necesario que el Parlamento de Honduras aprobara, a pedido del Gobierno, un paquete de medidas fiscales para evitar que el país centroamericano entrara en una mayor crisis económica”.

El prelado recordó que en 1990, la Administración del entonces presidente Rafael Leonardo Callejas, se hicieron los primeros ajustes estructurales de la economía, según recomendaciones del Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI).

“Después de 23 años estamos igual. Nuestro país vive de ayudas del exterior y si no se toman esas medidas, podría pasar lo mismo que sucedió hace poco en Europa, la cual se estaba descomponiendo y tuvieron que poner esas medidas”, enfatizó.

Es evidente que en estos últimos cuatro años, la corrupción y el descuido del gobierno de Porfirio Lobo han dejado las arcas del Estado vacías. Pero contrariamente a lo que afirma el Sr. Cardenal, no son con medidas empobrecedoras de los sectores populares como se puede arreglar la situación, sino al contrario: evitando la evasión fiscal de los poderes económicos, implementando una política coherente de inversiones y suprimiendo las exenciones de impuestos a las grandes empresas y multinacionales que están saqueando los bienes naturales del país.

No con reducción de los gastos sociales se mejorará la economía, pues son bastantes economistas independientes -entre los que se incluyen varios premios nóveles-, los que afirman que esas medidas conducirán a una mayor recesión económica e inflación monetaria. Si los poderes económicos nacionales y multinacionales pagaran los impuestos que les corresponden, se podría hacer frente a las deudas tanto externa como interna de Honduras y comenzaría el desarrollo de Honduras.

Asimismo, si en vez de ceder la soberanía del país a las multinacionales mediante la política de “concesiones” y el proyecto de “ciudades modelo” a cambio de donativos ocultos, se intentara acabar con la corrupción y con el lavado de activos del narcotráfico, se iría mejorando la economía.

Las grandes empresas y las multinacionales generan poco empleo, pues la mayor parte de los puestos de trabajo corresponden a la mediana y pequeña empresa, así como a los trabajadores autónomos. Sin embargo, las sucesivas administraciones neoliberales del Estado de Honduras, tradicionalmente se han centrado en beneficiar a las élites económicas, perjudicando a los sectores populares.

Medidas parecidas impuso el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) durante la década perdida de los ochenta del siglo pasado, que impidieron el desarrollo económico de los pueblos Latinoamericanos. Asimismo, la crisis económico-financiera de los Estados de la Unión Europea desde el 2008, con unas disposiciones similares está acabando con el “Estado del Bienestar” aunque aumenten el capital de los ricos y de los poderes financieros.

No estaría mal que el gobierno de Juan Orlando, implementara unas normas económicas que estuvieran conformes con el papa Francisco en el “Evangelio de la Alegría”, que afirma: para un desarrollo integral, es necesario “renunciar a la autonomía absoluta de los mercados, a la especulación financiera y a la corrupción”. Para Francisco, “la dignidad de la persona y el bien común han de estructurar la política económica, con una equitativa distribución de bienes y una creación de fuentes de trabajo”.

Más adelante, Francisco afirma: “no se puede confiar en las fuerzas ciegas, ni en la mano invisible del mercado. Se exige buena distribución del ingreso y no sólo crecimiento, superando el asistencialismo y creando empleo”.

Pedro Serrano
Sacerdote Diocesano

Honduran Bishop Luis Santos Villeda: Wealthy elite were behind coup

Luis Alfonso Santos
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A., Paul Jeffrey, Catholic News Service, CNS  http://www.catholicnews.com/  in http://www.normangirvan.info/  August 6, 2009

A Catholic bishop in western Honduras said members of the country’s wealthy elite were behind the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya.

Bishop Luis Santos Villeda of Santa Rosa de Copan also said the country needs a dialogue between the elite and Honduras’ poor and working-class citizens.

“Some say Manuel Zelaya threatened democracy by proposing a constitutional assembly. But the poor of Honduras know that Zelaya raised the minimum salary. That’s what they understand. They know he defended the poor by sharing money with mayors and small towns. That’s why they are out in the streets closing highways and protesting (to demand Zelaya’s return),” the bishop told Catholic News Service.

In a July 30 telephone interview, he said it is misleading to consider Honduras a democracy, either before or after the June 28 coup.

“There has never been a real democracy in Honduras. All we have is an electoral system where the people get to choose candidates imposed from above. The people don’t really have representation, whether in the Congress or the Supreme Court, which are all chosen by the rich. We’re the most corrupt country in Central America, and we can’t talk about real democracy because the people don’t participate in the decisions,” he said.

While Bishop Santos has criticized Zelaya for forging too close an alliance with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the prelate said those behind the coup are not advocates of democracy.

“They are gangsters, but their game is up. They plot together over dinner one night but the next day pretend to have disagreements in order to deceive the illiterate. They don’t care that children are dying of hunger, or that people die in hospitals without medicine,” he told the Jesuit-run Radio Progreso July 29.

In the interview with CNS, the bishop said that after an appeal from Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of the ousted president, he had dispatched food and water to embattled protesters.

“As a church, we continue offering humanitarian aid where it’s needed,” he told CNS. “And, taking into consideration our preferential option for the poor, we urge a dialogue between the unions, peasant groups and popular organizations on the one side and the economic powers behind the coup, which are linked to the transnational mining companies, the fast food chains and the petroleum distributors. The dialogue should be between these powerful groups and the poor and weak. … The international community doesn’t have anything to do with it.

“Who lives with the shocking misery here — the lack of education and medicines, the lack of even sheets in the hospitals — are the poor of Honduras. So national reconciliation needs to be between the poor, represented by their leaders, and these economically powerful groups,” he said.

Bishop Santos’ analysis of the political crisis appears at odds with that of Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

In a July 4 appearance that the interim government ordered all the country’s television and radio stations to carry live, Cardinal Rodriguez urged Zelaya to remain outside the country, warning of violence should he attempt to return.

“We think that a return to the country at this time could unleash a bloodbath in the country,” Cardinal Rodriguez said. “To this day, no Honduran has died,” he added, urging Zelaya to think about his actions “because afterward it will be too late.”

One protester was killed by government soldiers July 5 when troops closed the Tegucigalpa airport to prevent Zelaya’s plane from landing. At least one other pro-Zelaya demonstrator has been killed since.

Cardinal Rodriguez used the July 4 appearance to read a letter from the country’s bishops’ conference. The letter, which did not use the word “coup,” argued that what had transpired was “in conformance with the law.”

A source within the bishops’ conference told CNS that a lively discussion took place during the meeting in which the letter was drafted, with the cardinal reading from a folder of legal documents provided by the interim government to bolster the case against Zelaya. Bishop Santos reportedly argued strongly for a different position, but finally conceded.

Most of the bishops in Honduras are foreigners and reportedly did not take an active part in the discussion.

Asked by CNS about the meeting, Bishop Santos, who often has differed publicly with Cardinal Rodriguez on political issues, declined to comment. Yet he did say the cardinal’s position was not the only Catholic viewpoint.

“The coup plotters took the appearance of Cardinal Rodriguez in the media as if it were the position of the Catholic Church. But in Honduras we have eight dioceses, and each bishop is autonomous legally and within canon law,” he said.

He pointed out that in his diocesan cathedral July 2 he had read a statement from his diocesan council repudiating “the substance, form and style with which a new head of the executive branch has been imposed on the people.”

Other Catholic groups, including the Central American province of the Jesuits and the region’s Dominicans, as well as the clergy of the Honduran Diocese of Trujillo, have issued statements criticizing the change of government and calling for authentic democracy.

The United Nations, the Organization of American States and the European Union have condemned the coup and demanded Zelaya’s return.

Cardinal Rodriguez received a letter of support from leaders of the Latin American bishops’ council, known by the acronym CELAM.

In an interview from the Nicaraguan-Honduran border, Zelaya told the independent news organization Democracy Now! July 30 that Cardinal Rodriguez “conspired with the coup leaders. He betrayed the people, the poor. He took off his robes to put on a military uniform. And with his words, he really contributed to the assassinations that have taken place in Honduras.”

On July 28 a group of human rights activists filed a motion with the government’s special prosecutor against corruption, asking that the courts charge Cardinal Rodriguez and former Honduran President Carlos Flores with the misuse of public funds. The accusation alleges that the government has paid a monthly stipend of 100,000 lempiras (US$5,300) to the prelate since December 2002.

Repeated attempts by CNS to reach Cardinal Rodriguez at his office and residence were unsuccessful.

Source: http://www.normangirvan.info/honduran-bishop-wealthy-elite-were-behind-coup/

PADRE IVAN BETANCOURT
Nació el 28 de julio de 1940 en la ciudad de Fredonia, Departamento de Antioquia, República de Colombia. Sus padres Luis y Felisa Betancourt

Hizo sus estudios secundaria en Cali, Colombia, de 19594 a1959. En la Universidad San Buepaventogotá obtuvo su licenciatura en filosofia en el año de 1963 y
luego hizo sus estudios eclesiásticos de teología de 1965 a 1968.

Vino a Honduras en septiembre de 1968. Fue ordenado sacerdote en su ciudad natal el 1° de agosto de 1970. Al regreso trabajó en la pastoral juvenil en Juticalpa y después fue párroco en Dulce Nombre de Culmí, donde quienes se vieron afectados por su trabajo pastoral lo calumniaban y recogían firmas para expulsarlo.

Un hombre enérgico
El Padre Iván era un hombre enérgico, activo e incansable. Cuando vino a Honduras se integro al primer equipo de evangelizacion de Olancho. Trabajó con los Delegados de la Celebración de la Palabra.

Siempre tuvo un especial inte¬rés por la familia. Por esta razón decidió estudiar y especializarse en este campo. Hi¬zo un estudio intenso en Ottawa, Canadá en la Universidad de San Pablo donde obtuvo su Master en Pastoral Familiar

Al regreso de sus estudios en 1974, se dedicó a la Pastoral Familiar. Cuando murió comenzaba con sus “labora¬torios conyugales” como él llamaba a los cursos que daba a parejas. Siendo él un hombre de oración, enseñó a sus feligreses a poner la oración en primer lugar, como él lo hacía. En términos muy claros rechazó las injusticias y por la justicia murió

“No se queden dormidos, muévanse por alguna cosa importante en la vida. No basta criticar. Hay que hacer algo… No nos cansemos de buscar algún modo de progresar. Pienso que es muy triste quedarse uno estancado como ciertas aguas podridas a un lado del camino. Hay que progresar, no importa cuantos años tenemos, siempre se puede ir un poco mas adelante. Nunca hemos terminado”

Ivan Betancourth
Carta a los cristianos de Catacamas

25 de junio de 1975 nunca se olvidará

Fuente: Vida Laboral Edic. # 20, Julio de 2005

An Option for the Poor in Honduras

Luke Hansen, S.J.

Luke Hansen, S.J., an associate editor of America, created this photo journal after participating in a delegation to Honduras in September 2013. The delegation, representing Jesuit ministries in the United States and Canada, sought to learn more about the challenges facing the country following the military coup in 2009 and the response of the Catholic Church.
A year ago a new law in Honduras opened the door to further exploration of mining sites throughout the country. Multinational mining companies are increasingly exploiting land that campesinos have lived on and farmed for decades. On Sept. 10, 2013, the delegation met with community leaders and farmers in Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Arizona Parish in the state of Atlántida who face intimidation from mining companies. (Click on any of the photos to begin a slideshow with captions.)
“We have been threatened,” Enrique Castillo told us through an interpreter, “because we have defended the poorest people, the land and the water.” On Feb. 13, 2013, members of his village in northern Honduras helped hang a chain in front of his house to send a clear message to the mining companies: we are not selling; stay away from our land. The next day, he said, the police arrived, shot down the chain, asked for their names and promised to return.
Community members, with the support of their local pastor and bishop, have raised serious concerns about the environmental consequences of mining in the region. One member of the parish asked Fernando Serrano, a professor of public health at Saint Louis University, to test the quality of the community’s water supply.
The community expressed their concerns about the mining companies to their Claretian pastor, Father Cesar Espinoza (center), who was spurred into action. In this photo, Father Espinoza shares documentation of the new mining concessions in the region, which describe where the mining companies can explore and what they are looking for. The new law also permits the environmental impact study to be conducted by a private corporation rather than an independent state audit. Concepcion (right), a member of the parish, was hosting human rights observers when her house was invaded. She was threatened and had to take sanctuary in the church with her two children.
Father Espinoza shares documentation of “denunciations,” which he filed with the prosecutor, police, ombudsman for human rights and the government office for mining regulation. He has issued official complaints about threats received by members of the community and himself, mining employees going onto land that is not within the ownership of the company and a lack of due process for informing the community about the environment impact of mining.
The delegation met with Bishop Michael Lenihan, O.F.M., of La Ceiba, to discuss social concerns within his diocese. In June, the diocese published a pastoral letter, signed by Bishop Lenihan, which laid out a theology of care for creation, an option for the poor and the common good. It voiced opposition to the “avalanche of mining projects” in the state of Atlántida, the negative environmental impact, the militarization of the region and the defamation and threats directed toward Father Espinoza and his colleagues. It called the imposition of mining projects without any consultation with local communities an “outrage to personal and collective human rights,” and requested consultation and trustworthy studies of the environment impact.
The delegation met with leaders of ERIC (Equipo de Reflexion, Investigacion y Comunicacion), a Jesuit-sponsored social research and advocacy center in El Progreso, Honduras, on Sept. 8, 2013. Francisco describes the work of a campesino organization in Valle Sula. Magdalena, his wife, is an elected leader of the organization. She said a subsidiarity of SABMiller, a multinational brewing and beverage company, wants their land.
The delegation meets with community leaders and displaced farmers in the community of Guadalupe Carney, Honduras, on Sept. 9, 2013. The community is named after Jim (Guadalupe) Carney, S.J., a beloved missionary from St. Louis, Mo., who worked among Honduran campesinos in the 1960s and 70s. He disappeared in 1983 and has yet to be found. More than 500 Hondurans gathered to celebrate his life with a march and Mass in El Progreso on Sept. 14.
Ismael Moreno Coto, S.J. (left), popularly known as Padre Melo, speaks with Chabelo Morales (center) at the penal farm of La Ceiba, Honduras, on Sept. 9, 2013. Chabelo is from the community of Guadalupe Carney. In 2008 a police official killed a man in the community. The next day the community went to recover the body, a battle ensued, a landowner died and the police ordered the arrests of 32 campesinos. Only Chabelo, however, was arrested. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to prison, even though he never had an opportunity to defend himself in court. Padre Melo believes Chabelo is innocent. “Essentially,” Padre Melo explained, “he was punished for the group’s crime.” In November 2013, a court ordered a new trial for Chabelo and ordered his release from the prison farm.
The delegation stands near a memorial for Jim Carney, S.J., at the National Autonomous University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa, the capital city, on Sept. 11, 2013.
The delegation meets with Julieta Castellanos, the chancellor of the National Autonomous University of Honduras, on Sept. 11, 2013. The university hosted a panel discussion on major issues facing Honduras, and announced a partnership with ERIC, the Jesuit-sponsored social research and advocacy organization.
Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras
The delegation encountered numerous military checkpoints during our travels throughout the country. International partners like the United States can have a simplistic response to the violence in Honduras: increase the strength of state institutions like the military and police. This strategy, however, fails to account for the depth of corruption in the military and police forces. At one checkpoint, we were told to get out of the van, and the military personnel did a thorough search. For what? We were never told.
People are demanding greater security and Juan Orlando Hernandez, the newly elected president of Honduras, favors a further militarization of the police force. But this strategy has a downside. “One of the most troubling things about the military police law and generally the militarization of society is the lack of accountability this generates,” explained Shaina Aber, the policy director for the U.S. Jesuits’ office of social and international ministries, who helped lead the delegation. “In the name of security, the military has been given free rein to stop public protests, further corporate interests, investigate and detain activists. The militarization of society is compounding the levels of impunity.”
In this neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, local residents have hired private security officers to protect its block. Organized crime has penetrated a weak police force in Honduras, leaving people vulnerable. Police, prosecutors and judges serve only the most powerful, not the people they have the responsibility to protect, especially those in poorer communities. The state has basically delegated its job to private security companies.
Tegucigalpa at night.
The delegation brought the testimony of campesinos and community leaders to the United States Embassy in Tegucigalpa on Sept. 12, 2013, and the officials asked that we continue to share our human rights concerns with them. The officials explained that U.S. companies are not mining in Honduras at this time, but some companies have expressed interest, which makes it essential that U.S. officials have a clear understanding of concerns raised by local communities related to forced displacement, the natural environment and public health. The human rights officer in the embassy acknowledged human rights abuses in Honduras as a “fundamental, systemic problem,” but she said “we are only two people” in the human rights office, and “we are doing what we can.”
An armed soldier stands outside the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
Padre Melo (left) interviews Gerardo Aguilar, S.J. (right), a student at Universad Centroamericana in Managua, Nicaragua, in the studio of Radio Progreso in El Progreso, Honduras, on Sept. 12, 2013. Padre Melo, the director of Radio Progreso and ERIC, offered testimony in July 2012 to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives about the targeting and murder of journalists in Honduras. In recent years, 16 associates of Jesuit ministries have received credible death threats. Radio Progreso, which has about 1.5 million listeners, continues to receive intimidation and threats for its reporting and analysis of social problems, and one of its correspondents has been forced to leave the country.
Six of the eight members of the delegation pose for a photo at El Colegio de San Jose, a Jesuit-sponsored high school in El Progreso, Honduras. They are, left to right: Rafael Garcia, S.J., pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kansas City, Mo., Kirsti Tasala, youth and outreach coordinator for Canadian Jesuits International, Shaina Aber, policy director for the U.S. Jesuits’ social and international ministries, Nicholas Napolitano, provincial assistant for social ministries for the Maryland, New York and New England Provinces of the Society of Jesus, Mary Baudouin, provincial assistant for social ministries for Jesuits of the New Orleans Province, and Fernando Serrano, a professor in the College of Public Health and Social Justice at Saint Louis University. Not pictured are Kim Miller, program director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and Luke Hansen, S.J., associate editor of America.