Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A message from Adolfo Pérez Esquivel to the Church in Honduras and Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez

The following message was published today (7/22/2009) on Adital from Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the writer and Nobel Peace Prize winner. I have translated it into English.

The coup d'état in Honduras, unleashed by the military dictatorship and its accomplices, has brought death, hundreds of detainees, and journalists persecuted and imprisoned, their equipment confiscated and their human rights violated.

This situation leads to asking Cardinal Rodríguez, the dictator Micheletti and their minions: Is this what you were hoping for? To assassinate defenseless people, suspend the constitutional guaranties of the people, imprison and repress those who are demanding their rights and the restitution of President Zelaya to his role?

Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez: The road you have chosen of being an accomplice to the military dictatorship is not the way of the Gospel. You cannot be against your people and allow the violence and repression that, in the name of so-called security and law, precisely commits serious violations of human rights.

The shepherd who abandons his sheep and allows atrocities and supports dictatorship to defend his economic and political interests, is not worthy of being acknowledged as a Pastor of Christ and for His people.

In Latin America we have a long and painful history of military dictatorships and complicity from church hierarchies, who were at the service of oppression and were accomplices to the death and disappearance of people, of torture, in order to impose state terrorism.

Unfortunately this attitude continues in various countries, such as the behavior of Cardinal Terrazas in Bolivia, who allied with and supported the coup plotters to try to overthrow President Evo Morales.

In Venezuela the Church hierarchy supported the military coup against President Hugo Chávez.

I have listened to your statements against the Venezuelan president. You have the right to dissent, but not to slander. I have never heard your statements condemning the intervention of the United States, in your country or in the continent, or on the atrocities committed in Colombia and the armed incursion against the neighboring people of Ecuador.

Thanks be to God, there are signs of hope and prospects of life and dignity, from brothers and sisters who, faithful to the Gospel and their people, are committing themselves and fighting for a more just and humane world and many of them have given their lives in order to give Life; they are the martyrs of the Church who teach us to follow the way of Christ. Do you remember our brother Monsignor Romero in El Salvador?

You know very well that Honduras is a country with a long history of intervention from the United States supported by economic, political and church groups. Today those same power groups, with the complicity of the U.S. ambassador in Honduras, who admits that he met with the coup leaders, are opposing the reforms that President Zelaya proposed and decided to make the coup d'état to deny the "Consulta Popular" ("popular consultation").

What are you afraid of, brother Rodríguez? Your own fears? The "Consulta Popular" so that the people can decide what road to follow? Are you afraid of the poor, who participate in and want to join ALBA [Spanish acronym for the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas] and not submit to the TLC [Spanish acronym for the Free Trade Agreement] that means greater dependency on the US and that this decision affects the economic interests of those who have always oppressed the Honduran people?

Remember that 70% of the population of Honduras lives in poverty and 58% below the poverty level, a situation which has been caused by social and structural injustice. By resorting to violence against the people to sustain the situation of structural and social injustice, the situation has become uncontrollable. They are like the "sorcerer's apprentice", they don't know how to stop it now.

The international community is demanding the immediate return of President Zelaya. The OAS, the UN, the social, political and religious sectors, such as the bishops of Brazil-- Don Pedro Casaldáliga and Demetrio Valentín -- are demanding a return to legality and respect for the will of the people.

Listen to the voice of the bishop of Copán, of your land, the thousands of voices throughout the continent and the world, that reject the dictatorship.

If President Zelaya committed a crime, or some error, the country has a National Constitution and existing laws to determine his responsibility. But you have impeded the application of the law and resorted to a coup d'état. And you try to mask your crimes with empty words.

You talk about the Law and the Constitution, human dignity and you violate and contaminate them, and you respond by reprimanding the people, provoking injury and deaths.

Why so many contradictions and such lack of values? What do these atrocities have to do with the message of Christ? I hope that in your prayers God guides and enlightens you, because you are lost in the thicket of uncertainty. How long do you think you will go on as an inquisitor, supporting the tyrants who sowed terror and took power in your land?

Aren't you aware that the coup d'état in Honduras is a threat to democracy in the continent? The people have a right to resist against injustice, to not cooperate with the oppressors, to disavow those who usurped the power. And the Latin American governments and people have the responsibility to disavow an illegitimate and repressive government.

Many years of struggle and suffering sown by dictatorships throughout the continent have taught us painfully that it is preferable to die as free men and women than to live as slaves. Because hope always shows us a new dawn for the life and dignity of our people.

You have to resist in hope, brother Rodríguez, and that hope comes from walking with the people and never in the path of the oppressors. You must choose, as a man and as a pastor: to serve God and your people, or to serve the oppressors and the powers-that-be. There are many questions. You have the answer.

"Only the Truth will make us free." May the God of Life in His peace and goodness guide and enlighten you.

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