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Central America, the Maryknolls and the Jesuits



     Tim Brown wonders why WAISers question the testimony of former guerrilla fighters. We should certainly listen to them rather than to uninformed outsiders, but all testimony must be questioned. I have listened to the fascinating Senate committee investigating "private banking and money laundering" . Senator Carl Levin in particular questioned New York Bank officials about its operations in Mexico and Africa. He listened carefully, since the officials had inside knowledge, but were not necessarily telling the truth. Tim also says he was indicting individual clergy, not whole orders. But here again, the charges of the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa against some foreign missionaries may be true, but they too should be scrutinized.
     I referred to the fine line between preaching the gospel and promoting direct action. Linda Nyquist expands on this:
     The debate on the activities of missionaries, particularly Catholic, in Latin America is so reminiscent of Dom Helder Camara's famous statement: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."
     It appears that individual beliefs just are not going to waived on this issue. If the missionaries hand out holy cards and food baskets, it's ok, but if they help promote social change, which may include some violence, they are soundly trounced by the establishment. Can you REALLY help the poor without fomenting social change? And are the rich going to support these causes without a struggle? What possible incentive could the wealthy of one of these countries have for enfranchising the poor? There goes their 80%+ profit margins, household help, chauffeurs, and general minions to do their bidding. It would be like a fox unionizing a hen house.


     My comment: In Spain in 1935 reasonable people were warning that the wealthy should make concessions. Whether, had they done so, the Civil War would have been avoided is an open question. This is now an issue facing Brazil and other Latin American countries.

Ronald Hilton - 11/11/99


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