World Council of Churches

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

Expression of concern for state of crisis in Bolivia

03 June 2005

Letter to the churches of Bolivia, 3 June, 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have followed with concern the events of recent weeks in Bolivia which
have once again thrown the State of Bolivia into a state of crisis, with large-scale
movements in different parts of the country. We have read with attention the
recent letter calling for general agreement signed by the leaders of three different
churches in Bolivia.

The letter left us with mixed feelings; on the one hand, sorrow at the suffering
of the Bolivian people and, on the other, the joy of knowing that the churches
have united to let their prophetic voice be heard at this difficult juncture in
the nation's history, which may also prove to be a moment of kairos, a propitious
time for the transforming action of God's grace and the building of a new Bolivia.

The letter from the ecumenical leaders pointed out the importance of going
beyond simplistic and superficial analysis and examining the structural roots of
the crisis. Among the latter, they highlight the fact that the state "does not recognize
its original sons and daughters and grant them full and effective participation
as citizens". The exclusion of the indigenous peoples from the social and
political life of the country, which is unfortunately the case in other countries as
well, is one of the obstacles to the building of a true and strong democracy.

During my visit to Bolivia in November last year, I had the opportunity to see
for myself the rich heritage of the indigenous peoples in your country as well as
the situation of poverty, marginalization and rejection in which they live. The
gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to work for an inclusive society in which the most
vulnerable, the excluded, in biblical language, the poor, receive special attention.

In recent years Bolivia has seen several movements of protest by the people
expressing the wish for change that will make it possible to satisfy the people's
basic needs, with greater participation in political decision-making and the full
exercise of their rights. In this process it is essential that all future action should
be guided by the criterion of the protection of life in all its manifestations, as the
Christian leaders say in their letter.

The prophet Jeremiah warned against bad leaders who exploit the people instead
of serving them. But he also announced the presence of good shepherds who would
care for the people so that they need not be afraid (cf. Jer. 23:3-4), and the coming
of a new age. "The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise
up for David a righteous branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and
shall execute justice and righteousness in the land." (Jer. 23:5-6)

The next assembly of the World Council of Churches will be held in Porto
Alegre in February 2006, with the theme "God in your grace, transform the
world". We pray this prayer for Bolivia today. We invite all the churches to unite
in prayer that the grace of God may transform the heart of Bolivia so that, under
just and honest leadership, it may obtain justice, happiness and dignity for all its
men and women.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary