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Bishop Pates: mining companies, CAFTA have had harmful effects on Central America

Catholic World News - July 25, 2014

Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, returned from a visit to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and wrote Secretary of State John Kerry to convey the points raised in his visits with local bishops.

The root causes of the migration of unaccompanied minors to the United States, the prelate said, are “violence, gang activity, narcotics, weapons and human trafficking, inadequate institutions of law enforcement and corruption/impunity, poverty, as well as unequal and inadequate economic development.”

“The need for improved education, job training, law enforcement and infrastructure was a common thread in each country,” he continued. “We must address the primary actions that will serve the long term resolution of the current problem: these are found in investment in education and jobs.”

Bishop Pates also spoke of the effects of CAFTA and multinational mining companies on the region.

“The implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and similar trade policies, has in many cases devastated small agricultural producers and businesses in the region, while depressing labor conditions and wages,” he wrote. “As an example, US corporations, receiving significant subsidies and other protections from our government, have been able to export corn and other agricultural products to Central America, driving down local prices for these products and forcing rural families off their lands.”

“The conduct of US and Canadian mining companies in these countries has contributed to destructive environmental and public health consequences for communities in Central America,” he continued. “We heard powerful testimonies, by civil and Church leaders, of brutality and oppression, including torture and murder.”

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 26, 2014 10:28 PM ET USA

    "Violence, gang activity, narcotics, weapons and human trafficking, inadequate institutions of law enforcement and corruption/impunity, poverty, as well as unequal and inadequate economic development” are all to be found in the U.S., as well. One trip do not an expert make. The USCCB should save money and spend more time trying to take care of their responsibilities in the dioceses, states, and country. There is more than enough to do and more than enough politicians to excommunicate, too.

  • Posted by: tfiks7959 - Jul. 25, 2014 6:15 PM ET USA

    "Shrink" has it exactly right. And why are our bishops ignoring the obvious?

  • Posted by: shrink - Jul. 25, 2014 8:35 AM ET USA

    With exception of CAFTA, each of the points that Bsp. Pates cites as the cause of the migration have been in place for 50 years. The reason for the mass migration now is the promise of amnesty by Obama. However, the Bsp. raises an interesting point about CAFTA. It is a treaty agreement that each country must agree to, so why would the govt of Honduras (for example) agree to something that is manifestly unjust for its own people. Answer this question and we are getting to ROOT causes.

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