World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Communiqué on peace and human security in Latin America

Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches ( WCC) ‘Peace and Human Security in Latin America: Ecumenical Responses’ Communiqué from Antigua, Guatemala, 2nd December 2012

06 December 2012

Peace and Human Security in Latin America: Ecumenical Responses

We the participants of the Latin America regional consultation on ‘Peace and Human Security in Latin America: Ecumenical Responses’ (Antigua, Guatemala; 30 November to 2 December, 2012), organized by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in cooperation with the Latin America Council of Churches (CLAI), and hosted by the Concejo Ecumenico Cristiano de Guatemala,  representing various churches, ecumenical organizations, institutions and civil society movements, thank God for the opportunities for   prayer, discernment and dialogue that helped  us define and understand the situations which threaten peace and human security in Latin America.

We identified the current  realities in the region which affect the dignity of millions of  people in Latin America, such as human insecurity, poverty, unemployment, ‘femicide’, discrimination and exclusion of   indigenous people  and migrants from the main stream of society, violence,  and organized crime orchestrated by drug trafficking groups, and violence against children and young people, all marked by impunity. The policies of militarization as a response to the actions of organized crime and drug trafficking not only failed but they have increased the violence indexes and definitively benefit the dominant groups and institutions.

We heard stories of situations of social insecurity as a phenomenon that calls for urgent attention, requiring the implementation of public, national and regional policies in which Latin American countries should take on their responsibilities and commitments that promote the integrity of persons and communities. We also heard about situations in different countries of Latin America where the state has failed to guarantee peoples’ rights to education, health, social security, jobs, justice and opportunities for social and cultural development as well as their fundamental rights. Inequality in the distribution of wealth, social exclusion and the risky situation that the most vulnerable populations find themselves in, destroy the pillars of democracy and the values of fullness of life (John 10:10) that Jesus Christ taught us.   

We believe that it is necessary to approach and address these problems through structural reforms in the economic and social spheres. The States have the obligation to guarantee the implementation and full enjoyment of human rights by all citizens.  We demand public policies that assure their implementation through internal mechanisms of protection that safeguard life, human security and human development.  We also affirm our conviction that truth, justice, and protection of human rights should be guaranteed. The strengthening of the Inter-American System of Human Rights and the International Human Rights protection mechanisms is unavoidable.  International cooperation and the building of a critical overview of international law are contributions that must come from the States and the Civil Society.

We firmly welcome the beginning of the peace talks between the government of Colombia and the FARC.  We support the aspirations of the people of Colombia to achieve peace with social justice, an objective that is of interest to our entire continent, and we urge for a bilateral cease fire during the peace talks.

We express a special concern about the threats to the territorial and economic sovereignty that different countries of the region have suffered.  Under the pretext of security policies, U.S military bases have been installed, and are used to control the region.  We condemn the negative policies of the government of the United States towards Cuba, especially the economic sanctions imposed against the country, which constitute a threat to peace and a manifestation of    a policy of interference to peoples’ right to self-determination.

We demand that the States of Latin America assure the integral protection of human rights defenders in the region.  The tasks of human rights defenders, in monitoring, denouncing and proposing public policies, must be free of pressures and threats. We consider aberrant the criminalization of social protest and we demand that the peoples’ right to freedom of expression should be respected.

Appropriate attention should be given to the situation of vulnerability in which the people of African descent, who constitute a large portion of the population of Central and South America, find themselves and also to the situation of increasing extra-judicial killings of young people. The situations of discrimination and exclusion in which women, children, youth and migrants in our region live are unacceptable.  The States must work hard to assure their safety and put all their effort in the eradication of gender violence, and its most serious expression, that of ‘femicide’ as well as hate crimes, a phenomenon that prevails and increases in Latin American countries. In many countries in the region there are still cases of political prisoners, many of whom are subjected to torture.  The existence of penitentiary systems in several countries that violate human rights and democratic governance must also be challenged.   In many countries in the region there are still cases of political prisoners, many of whom are subjected to torture.                                   

We affirm that the situation of discrimination and systematic attack against indigenous people still persists.  It is unacceptable that transnational corporations devastate their territories, extract the wealth of their land and destroy the natural resources. The economic ventures of the transnational corporations and local projects that are generated in ancestral indigenous lands must be done in consultation with the people, as it is stipulated by the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization and also the International Declaration of Indigenous People.

While acknowledging the historical contributions of the WCC and the ecumenical movement in supporting the struggles of the people in Latin America for human rights and democratization, we urge the WCC to address emerging concerns related to peace and human security in the region. We acknowledge the efforts carried out by churches in the active defense of human rights.  The Churches are called to support decisively the people of God in their demands, needs and the construction of a society of peace.  Collecting the clamor of the people contributing generously to the social transformation and of the structures, Yahve said: “I have seen the humiliation of my people and have heard their screams when their masters mistreat them.  I know their sufferings.  I have come down to free them of the power of the Egyptians and to make them rise from here to a large and fertile country, a land that is rich in milk and honey” (Ex 3:7 and 8)

Committed to the Gospel of Christ and the ethical-social imperatives, we assume the urgency of deepening our vocation of peace and continue to work in the heart of our communities for the overcoming of violence, discrimination, all types of exclusion, injustice, inequalities and for the construction of ‘The Kingdom of God’. We believe, as prophet Isaiah proclaimed: “The work of justice will be Peace and the fruits of justice will be tranquility and security forever (Isaiah 32:17).

We pray together with the global ecumenical family, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”.