By Fr. Antonio Ponce OMI, Oblate JPIC Director – US Province
On March 19, OMI JPIC Director, Fr. Antonio Ponce, OMI joined representatives of the Catholic bishops of Latin America Conference appeared on a hearing before the 154 session of Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington DC where they shared the impact and called for standards in mining companies that operate in Latin America.
The hearing was held in response to a petition filed by the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano (CELAM), religious men and women, Catholic relief agencies and Red Ecclesial Pan-Amazon (REPAM) calling for effective protection of indigenous communities and environment.
In their presentations, Latin America Catholic Leaders said they were very concerned about the negative consequences that the mining activities are having, especially in poor communities, in particular, indigenous communities who face human rights violations and live with pollution of water.
Speaking at the hearing, Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini, representative of Guatemala said: “We can live without gold, silver or oil, but not without water. That is why we care so much what is happening in our communities with mining corporations.”
In attendance were Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Peru, Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of Guatemala represented CELAM, along with Fr Peter Hughes.
In Solidarity were Bishop Donald Bolen, who heads the Peace and Justice Commission at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and U.S Catholic Bishops and some USCCB staff.