Latin America: All coherence gone

The parish of Andahuaylillas, at a height of 3,100 metres in the Peruvian Andes, was host from 6-10 July to a meeting of 13 Provincial Coordinators of the Social Apostolate, the Secretary of the Social Apostolate Fr Fernando Franco SJ, the Socius of the Peruvian Province, and the Coordinator of the Network of Indigenous Ministries. This annual meeting was held to assess the socio-political situation of the continent and to finalise the design of a structure capable of responding to the present challenges facing the social sector. The brief but poignant accounts presented indicated that democracy in Latin America has crumbled; institutions supporting democracy have very little credibility. The conclusions of the Truth Commission lie forgotten in Peru; 70,000 have died in the decades between 1980-2000 [HL40106], most of them Quecha-speaking indigenous people. In Ecuador, with the withdrawal of indigenous support, the government has tilted increasingly to the right. Bolivia fears that popular participation in the referendum called by Carlos Mesa will be low. The peace process in Colombia seems to be threatened by a new insistence on ?national security? that aims at protecting investments rather than people. Argentina has found no alternative political development to Peronism, a political system based on clientelism and patronage. Paraguay allows crimes to flourish with impunity; Mexico is disillusioned with the changes introduced by President Fox; the Dominican Republic, troubled by financial fraud, has elected a neo liberal government to power; and Brazil?s Lula is afraid of confronting the IMF. Chile alone seems to benefit from an able President, but increasing prosperity has led to increased secularisation. In the face of such collapse, it was humbly acknowledged at the meeting that collaborating to strengthen democratic and transparent political institutions is imperative. [HL40705] Fr Jorge Julio Mejia SJ, Assistancy Coordinator of the Social Apostolate for Latin America. jjulio@colomsat.net.co