Read in French or Spanish By Ryan Worms The journey escaping from poverty in Central America in search of prosperity in the United States and Canada is a dangerous one for the migrants who try their luck. More than 20,000 migrants are held by criminal gangs each year on the route. Theft, violence and sexual assault are all common events. These mostly young people have already come along way by the time they reach San Luis de Potosi in Mexico. They arrive by freight train. Beside the track is the House of Charity, where local Caritas Potosi staff offer them safe haven. The hostel relocated last year out of the town centre so the migrants didn’t have to face the gangs operating there.
By Fr. Francisco Gallardo, director of the Caritas migrant house at Matamoros, near Mexico’s border with the USA. People leave their homes in search of the “American dream” but they end up coming to us looking for lodging, clothes and help. Many of them arrive completely exhausted. There are people who’ve been kidnapped and who come to us full of fear. They’ve been tortured and abused and are in a pitiful state. Most of those who come to us are men. There are very few women and children. Sometimes people come with children but they can’t prove they are their parents. We think that they’re taking the children to their real parents in the US. We’ve been working with migrants in this diocese for the past 24 years. Originally, we opened our doors to migrants who came from the centre and the south of Mexico. But then the situation became more dramatic and [...]
By Salvador Urteaga, Consultant Emergency for Caritas Mexico Mexicans have recently experienced larger and more frequent natural disasters previously unknown in our history. The list includes hurricanes, heavy rains, landslides and floods in some regions and water scarcity in others. The most disadvantaged peoples are being affected the hardest. Aside from those living in rural communities, those living in cities have had to reinforce their infrastructure to offset hurricane or heavy rains. As climate change increases, there will be more disastrous consequences for communities living in extremely vulnerable places. Tabasco saw rivers breaking their banks and the flooding of almost the entire city. Tragedies such as these open up the possibility of future breaks in the dam which would result in the need to evacuate a million people, the loss of human lives and the loss of assets such as crops, livestock, infrastructure. The people of Monterrey believed that they were equipped to [...]
By Christine Campeau, Climate and Food Security Advisor, Caritas Internationalis The sixteenth conference of parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded on 10 December 2010 with Patricia Espinoza, Mexico’s foreign minister welcoming the Cancun Agreements. The conference has sparked renewed hope in the overall UNFCCC process and, thanks to the dedication of the Mexican Presidency, restored credibility in its transparent working methods. It also showed the willingness of governments to work together under the UNFCCC framework - a place where the voices and concerns of the poorer countries carry equal weight to the richer ones. After two weeks of intensive negotiations by almost two hundred countries, the major achievement of COP16 was the creation of a Green Climate Fund. This fund will receive and distribute up to $100 billion a year by 2020, becoming a major channel for the financial assistance that will help nations cope with negative effects [...]
The Cancun summit has not delivered climate justice for poor countries, but it has produced a way forward for a future deal to safeguard the lives of the poor and future generations. The pressure will continue on governments to produce a legally binding deal in Durban South Africa next December. Climate justice will mean deep and urgent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions led by developing countries and secure public finance for poor countries to adapt to climate change and develop sustainably all under a legally binding agreement. Government agreed in Cancun to curb climate change and provide funding for poor countries. Read about the progress made in Cancun and follow reaction from Caritas members on the blog. Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega, President of Caritas Mexico speaking on behalf of the faith based organizations called for climate justice and for courageous, equitable and binding agreements at Cancun. It seems that his call was not in vain. Read about [...]
With Climate talks scheduled for December in Cancun, Caritas Mexico is keeping busy in their planning to raise awareness. Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega, the President of Caritas Mexicana was part of the Caritas Internationalis delegation last year at the climate talks in Copenhagen and is eager to mobilize civil society organisations and the Church in Mexico. Caritas Mexico is organising a Holy Mass for Sunday 05 December and assembling the Caritas family together for a few days of capacity building on the thematic issues covered in the negotiations. Caritas has applied jointly with the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance for a side event entitled ‘Faith based organisations advocate for climate justice’. If approved, the focus of this discussion will be around how communities address climate change, poverty and sustainable development, offering ethical contributions to international negotiations through awareness raising, social mobilization and advocacy. Caritas, the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance [...]
By Christine Campeau, Caritas Internationalis Financing climate adaptation in developing countries is a must. It will determine the success of the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico in 29 November to 10 December 2010. There is widespread pessimism over the lack of significant progress in reaching a climate change accord since the Copenhagen meeting last December. In an attempt to move things forward, Switzerland and Mexico co-hosted a meeting last month in Geneva to shed light on the status of the billions of climate-aid dollars pledged in Copenhagen. Details of this meeting centred on how to raise the pledged US$100 billion in annual long-term financing for 2020. While some view meetings such as this one as progress in the right direction, several critics complain that this is still the tip of the iceberg. Promised climate change aid has no scientific or economic [...]
By Kathy Brown, CCUSA American Caritas member Catholic Charities agencies in Louisiana continue to reach out to those impacted by the environmental disaster still unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. In New Orleans, Catholic Charities has helped over 1,500 fishermen hit by oil spill in 5 relief centers providing food and food vouchers, baby items, counseling, and more. 6227 people (1883 families) have received emergency assistance from Catholic Charities in New Orleans alone. Other diocesan charities agencies are also reaching out all along the Gulf Coast. The oil spill is having a disastrous consequence on the livelihoods of fishermen and their families and also on tourism, a major industry on the Gulf Coast. Quoting from the Bayou Catholic, the diocesan paper of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux (May 13, 2010, Vol. 30, No 23, Houma, LA): [Rob] Gorman (Executive Director of Catholic Charities in Houma-Thibodaux) expressed the hope that, like the miracle of the loaves [...]
Life since the 2007 Mexico floods has been a learning curve for Hugo Gutierrez. He said Caritas Tabasco’s small team was almost overwhelmed when the disaster happened. After the floods Mr Gutierrez did emergency response training to ensure that if the floods ever came again, people would be better protected. “We learned about how to organise and divide tasks, how to improve assistance and how to develop emergency plans,” said Mr Gutierrez. The training covered many aspects of emergency response including evacuation drills, disaster prevention and minimum standards for disaster response. Mr Gutierrez considers the training to have been invaluable as it helped Caritas Tabasco identify strengths and weaknesses and map the risks for future disasters. The training means that Caritas is better prepared to face whatever nature throws at it. “Now people can really count on us,” said Mr Gutierrez.
Soon after the Mexican floods hit, Caritas launched an appeal for US$2 million to help the people of Tabasco. Emilie Della Corte works for Caritas Internationalis’ (CI) Emergency Response team in Rome. She and another colleague went to Mexico City to support Caritas Mexico in developing their emergency appeal. The document would request donations from some of the 162 organisations that belong to the Caritas global network. “It was my first emergency for Caritas. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Emilie Della Corte. “We don’t send a team from Caritas Internationalis to every emergency, but the Tabasco floods were the worst natural disaster to hit Mexico in 50 years, so it was all hands on deck. Before the appeal was launched Caritas workers in the flooded region had to provide precise information regarding how many people needed help, their location, how easy was it to access them, what stocks were already [...]