Pedro Casaldáliga: Death does not take your breath away!

In early December 2012, Bishop Pedro Casaldálida had to leave São Félix do Araguaia, MT, for a new series of death threats. “He did not want his people felt it was running,” says Mari Pepa Raba who, like her husband, José María Concepción, lived for many years near Casaldáliga. Both today introduce us to this story.

Fortunately, today, Pedro  returns to be in your house, in your diocese and its people, the “simple episcopal palace” that describes the Mari  Pepa: “A simple house with wooden windows and mosquito nets.”

Both speak of the Indian cause in which, according to José María recognizes, “the Brazilian government (also) made a clear political decision”, and confess that “death does not take away the breath of Pedo  Casaldáliga. “

* The interview is Jesus Bastante published by website Digital. Translation is the Cepat.

Eis to interview.

As you Pedro Casaldáliga this time?

Joseph  – He returned to San Felix on December 29, happy to return to his home, which he had left on day 07 [December]. The situation was normalizing. He never wanted to leave São Félix, even when he retired. For it is very important. Chose, even the place where you want the cemetery to be buried.

What happened to that had to get out?

Joseph  – The fundamental cause were two concrete threats, and the most important of which took place on December 5. The reason is the indigenous cause: the return of the  Xavante  to their land of origin, which is a process that was flaring up. The Supreme Court finally recognized the indigenous area that corresponds to this Xavante people, and requested the eviction of the invaders. The Brazilian government has decided to comply with the ruling of the  Supreme Court , and each person was informed personally by latifundia latifundia, which would have to leave. Landowners (among whom are politicians, mayors, judges …) even have landholdings to 9,000 hectares, and in the hands of the same family.

That is, they are returning the land to the Xavante?

Joseph  – Yes, the return has not yet been executed, but the process is starting. The expulsion of the  Xavante  happened in the 1960s, before the dictatorship. The Brazilian government decided to carry out a kind of economic expansion through colonization and development of the Amazon. So began creating subsidized programs for large companies that want to invest there. There Brazilian banks, multinational automakers … By cutting taxes and another series of benefits and allowances, the companies all agreed, and came to an area where the Indian tribe was  Xavante .They began to explore this region, creating a plantation of almost one million hectares.An area larger than the province of Madrid.

The Indians  Xavante  were forced to work as slaves, and when it does not suit them, drive them out. The Brazilian Army has placed himself on a plane to transfer the entire population  Xavante  to a kind of reserve the Salesians, who worked hard to ethnicity Xavante . Thus began the deforestation, the use of land for cattle, etc.., Brazilian Amazon.

In  I Climate Conference  1992, held in Rio de Janeiro, the Italian government, which participated in this operation through a company, made the gesture of returning 160,000 hectares of land to the Brazilian government for the Xavante could return.

When politicians and Brazilian landowners learned of the news, if anticipated and invaded the land. Always use the gimmick to make themselves as much as possible of land, but also to encourage peasants to have simple, to put them at the time as an excuse to go back to try them out. It is easier to buy the peasants. About this strategy, and the invasion that began in 1992, there are many documents.

Once the Brazilian Government lands, began a process of approval and demarcation.Anthropological studies were conducted to determine if, indeed, there had lived the Xavante , excavations were made in cemeteries … And in 1998, President  Fernando Henrique Cardoso  signed a decree that says that these 165,000 hectares went to use the  Xavante .

But the invaders resorted to their own resources, until last October the  Supreme Court  decided to reject all appeals and appeals, could initiate the return effectively.So all organisms themselves (such as the National Indian Foundation –  FUNAI  and the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform –  INCRA ) began working on the plan, and the landlords blamed  Pedro Casaldáliga  for that. Someone had to be the scapegoat, and  Pedro  is known to have always defended the Indians. “Red Bishop”, as they call it.

The life Casaldáliga was real danger?

Mari  – After the first threat a delegate of the government and the Federal Police came to talk to  Pedro . The situation was already very inflamed, and the Army was alert.Here everyone knows that things are arranged with a “quick visit” to the bishop. This means that come to your house with a gun and shoot.

Pedro  is quiet because the question of death is not imposed at all, but the police and the government stressed the seriousness of the situation. They told him they had to have a minimum of care, the doors closed … because the house of  Pedro  is always open. It’s a very simple episcopal palace: a simple house with wooden windows and mosquito nets. His room even has door, just a curtain. And the police told him not to trust either. But he said that Providence is always with him, and wanted to wait. It seemed more aware of the risk that we could run than their own. Resisted to leave because he never fled before other threats. In 2004, a henchman following him on his ride every morning, and Peter gave him no importance. We were also relatively quiet, because he inspires tranquility. I think he did not want his people felt that he was running away, and besides, the police said that these elements were threatening all Prelacy, that is, all the people who worked in the Prelature.

Pedro  already has limitations inherent to any old person. For this reason, the fact of having to leave your seat and make a long trip is a lot. I personally would rather have in house escort to the fact  Pedro  having to leave. But it is also true that no one sees Pedro as an elder. It’s a monster, although it is tiny. The simplicity with which reflects the freedom with which tells the jokes, and his faith that moves mountains, are enormous.

Finally, it was his decision to leave the premises?

Joseph  – He met with people in the house, with the lawyer, the current Bishop and some pastoral agents, and after prayer told us that he had thought about it at night and he was willing to leave. We rent a small plane, only two places, and I left with him. First we went to the city of Goiás, because  Pedro wanted to participate in a tribute paid to him by  Bishop Thomas Baldwin , who was bishop of Sao Felix do Araguaia before  Pedro , which has 90 impressive years. It was a meeting pretty much deserted at the airport, and then Peter could participate with  Thomas , a meeting with friends of the monastery. The tribute was also beautiful, because both were two great bishops of Brazil, founders of  the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) and the Pastoral Land Commission  (CPT) – both organisms belonging to CNBB.

The next day, we attended a mass in a Benedictine monastery where resides the current bishop of Goiás, and after the celebration the people asked Peter to speak. I was impressed as it is still capable of, despite Parkinson, pinching the microphone to speak of hope with amazing clarity. To me, that much I know, still surprises me with new arguments.

How is health?

Joseph  – It is true that very tired. We must remember that it is 84 years. But it is always dependent on their medication.

Will continue to maintain secrecy about the place where they were in those days?

Joseph  – Yes, by a need to have to go back to a place that follow being booked. Can I just say that was the home of friends.

As a couple you are, how experienced this situation, the objective danger?

Mari  – Things are taken as they arrive. It is true that came to the house to tell us not to got out, they were threatening pastoral workers, said they knew they had Spanish … But we did not think that threat. What gave us more respect is that there was much movement of the police and army in the village. On Sunday, in the Eucharist we realized that people felt alone without  Pedro . Could notice his absence. The people were sad, he asked if he would return …

How were the days in hiding? Peter felt restless for having strayed from their?

Joseph  – Because we had access to the internet, we continue with our work rate. The place was also very pleasant in nature, though we could not go for a walk at home.Inteiravam of Brasilia in the situation, went about informing us what the local press in Brazil, which is very biased, not said. Did not receive visits, but could read and communicate over the Internet.

Why was it possible that Peter returned to his home?

Joseph  – We had the idea that at the end of the year could come back, and Brasilia confirmed the date of 29. We must recognize that the Brazilian government took a clear political decision in favor of the Indians and for justice, against very many politicians.  Pedro  remains critical of the government of  Dilma Rousseff  other reasons, because there are many outstanding issues, including within the indigenous cause (besides the  Xavante , the  Guarani in Mato Grosso do Sul …).  Pedro  is always very critical with megaprojects and agribusiness.  Dilma  is the creator of  the Growth Acceleration Program  (PAC). It is a development economist. Moreover, the first objective was assumed that the eradication of poverty, and it is certain that it is working for this purpose, but forcing growth. And that  Pedro does not like, because often the attacker is accelerated growth. The  agri-business  is converting Brazil into one of the largest suppliers of raw materials in the world, it is true, but the monoculture of soybeans, for example, leaves no room for the small farmer, or for family farming in our region. Since almost everything is soy.

But in the case of the Indians of the region where  Pedro  lives, Brazil’s government faced the governor of Mato Grosso, most politicians and MPs who were opposed to vacate the land, and stood firm.

Pedro missed, by the Vatican or the Spanish Episcopal Conference, some kind of statement by a bishop of the Church Catholic who has received death threats and had to leave your home?

Joseph  –  Pedro  did not express anything. The  National Conference of Bishops of Brazil  (CNBB) ruled in favor of Pedro , with an explicit note of support, and who is your current secretary repeatedly visited Sao Felix do Araguaia and took a gamble by the village.

Do not know how it sounded to  Pedro  the silence of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, he never comments because of what others might do and not do, etc.. It makes such comments. He wants no importance to himself. He always says that he is not important, but its causes.

What are the major causes of Pedro Casaldáliga?

Joseph  – The land and indigenous cause. Now he is very worried about at first, for this developmental advance that vai taking space more human. And the second goes back to 1968, when  Pedro arrived in Brazil and met in his diocese, with three ethnic groups: Indians  Tapirapé the  Carajá  and  Xavante , who had been expelled. With the tribe  Tapirapé  were the  Sisters of Jesus  who had come from Algeria. To understand the root cause of  Pedro  we must go back to the spirituality of  Charles de Foucauld , whose motto was “shouting the Gospel with your life.” And it is essential to become incarnate in people. Therefore, the  Little Sisters of Jesus “became Tapirapes.” This is to evangelize. And then came the  Cimi  founded by Pedro the evangelization of the natives without removing them from their villages to get them to college or anything.  Pedro  realized that the only thing we had to do was elevate the person, and this is to demonstrate their qualities. Being stubborn. So the Cimi  fought from the beginning the defense of indigenous culture, its myths, its way of living. And soon spawned a social movement in Brazil, which still existed at the time of the dictatorship.

When it came time constituent in 1988, the Constitution gave the Indians a series of rights that would not have been possible without this social movement. Currently, the landed elite of Brazil wants to reform it, in fact, removing these rights that were won by  Cimi .  Peter  learned to fight for this cause and communicate it because he is a great communicator.

How did you meet Peter?

Mari  – We came, first as tourists, a very poor village called Santa Teresa. We started collaborating on projects near the village  Tapirapé . One year we asked some solar panels, and through the organization  Engineers Without Borders  and striving much, and we can take them there. Arriving in St. Felix I made a comment about how much the trip had been tiring carrying the panels, and  Peter  told me: “The First World, if not solidarity work, will not save, no matter what.”¬iciaId=3684

Thursday, January 31, 2013 – 17:22

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