Canadians campaign on land rights
Caritas Canada (Development and Peace) organised a Night of the Landless during the International Eucharist Congress on 20 June. A camping site was set up on the grounds of the Congress for supporters to sleep outside, in solidarity with the landless peasants of Brazil.
After a picnic and a presentation on Brazil’s Landless Rural Worker’s Movement, Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga spoke of land redistribution and poverty in Latin America.
Brazil’s Landless Rural Worker’s Movement is supported by many national Caritas members, including Caritas Brazil. Brazil has one of the highest income inequalities in the world. The richest 10 percent receive 50 percent of the nation’s income; the poorest 10 percent receive less than one percent. Indigenous tribes face persecution and abuse unless they leave their land.
Cardinal Rodriguez invited the assembly to work for social justice and to put pressure on the government to change unjust international structures. The Cardinal has been a driving force behind efforts to promote responsible mining in his native Honduras.
Cardinal Rodriguez described problems in his Central America country of Honduras caused by abusive mining practices. In recent years, because of the skyrocketing price of gold, Canadian and American mining companies have been developing open pit mines.
In one case, cyanide, used in the mining process, got into the local water supply and sickened nearby residents.
“We are for the development of our country, but in a fair way,” he said. It was important to raise this issue in the context of an international congress focusing on the Eucharist because true faith must be lived out by exercising the “preferential option for the poor.”
“We can't just look up toward heaven without considering the poverty around us or the social conditions of the poor,” he added.
During the International Eucharistic Congress, pilgrims were invited to sign a petition asking that the Canadian government create an independent ombudsperson to verify social responsibility by Canadian mining, oil and gas companies in their overseas operations.
Over 900 signatures were obtained, including that of Cardinal Rodriguez, joining the 190, 000 Canadians who have already signed the petition.
Read more about the campaign http://www.devp.org
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