|Monseñor Luis Santos, May 31, 2011, San Juan, Intibucá|
Friday, June 3, 2011, Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, Bishop of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, released an open letter in response to the current charges against him.
From Erandique, territory of the Lenca people and of the leader Lempira, defender of national sovereignty. I send my fraternal greetings and my thanks to all the persons, institutions, and popular organizations and means of communication that have been in solidarity with me denouncing the crimes, still unpunished, which had continued to happen against the campesinos in the region of the Bajo Aguan.
In my speech in Choluteca, the past May 11, I spoke of 14 campesinos killed in the Bajo Aguan. According to well-documented reports there are now more than 30.
The context of the public denunciation was a march of the Committees in Defence of Nature of the diocese of Choluteca, where I walked at the side of the bishop, Monseñor Guido Plante. The words were in front a public reduced in size because the noonday sun, exhaustion, and hunger had caused most the those who were part of the environmental march to lose their attention and they had begun to walk away. I thought that it was all over, but the following day Radio America as a Pharisee undertook scandal mongering with the recording of some of my words.
To my surprise 19 days later, on May 30, a notice appeared in http://proceso.hn that the lawyer Antonio Ocampo Santos, the legal representative of the businessman Miguel Facussé, filed a complaint against your servant in the courts of the Republic.
Señor Andrés Pavón, president of CODEH, the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras, presented documentation over 24 of those assassinated in the Bajo Aguan but the Fiscal’s office lost them or made them supposed to be lost. The same happened in 2007 when by a superior order no action was taken on a lawsuit on behalf of three persons wounded by bullets by the police in the course of a protest against mining, a lawsuit which we presented through COFADEH, the Committee of Families and the Detained in Honduras.
To confront this complaint I have given power to a team of lawyers to defend me. For the time being and in relation to this theme I will not give any more declarations to the press. I submit myself to the laws of Honduras, not putting aside the ability to approach other international forums.
I am a defender of human Rights and my words were motivated by the compassion that the poorest and the defenseless inspire in me; in this case the campesinos in the Bajo Aguan who defend their lives and the right to land to produce food for themselves and their children.
The document Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council affirms that the human being is the end (purpose) of all human action and at the same time has as ultimate end (purpose) Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word. The government, presided over by Porfirio Lobo Sosa has as its motto Christian Humanism; I hope that, based in this humanism, justice will be done for all those assassinated in the Bajo Aguan, at the very least after their death.
The priests and the laity of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán want the complaint brought against your servant to be the basis to clarify the death of campesinos in the Bajo Aguán and that the lands which belong to the State of Honduras be put at the disposition of INA, the National Agrarian Institute, with the purpose of handing them over to the campesinos.
Not withstanding this situation, I have continued my work as bishop in the triple function of teaching, celebrating worship, and governing my diocese. Nor had I lowered my guard in regard to the theme of mining of metals, a law concerning which the National Congress wants to approve in these days. I make an urgent plea to environmentalists to be alert and sustain the articles that have been agreed on.
Mining of metals ought not to exist in Honduras while we do not have a capacity set up to manage it with technology and trained personnel. Foreigners carry off the minerals leaving to Honduras the contamination and the social convulsion. The person responsible for the law which is approved is the lawyer Donaldo Reyes Avelar, president of the current mining commission in the National Congress. Would that one day he may not have to face the protest of the Honduran people.
The Catholic Church chooses life; but in order to preserve life the Church has to work resolving the conflicts that threaten life. The Honduran people is waking up and wants to liberate itself of the chains that the exploiters and oppressed have maintained. In the history of salvation, God has intervened in favor of the oppressed. The Catholic church today in Honduras also ought to intervene in favor of the oppressed, thus giving testimony of the following of Jesus Christ, of whom we are disciples and missionaries for the construction of the Kingdom.
I ask the Holy Spirit whose coming we will celebrate June 12 to give us wisdom, intelligence, and strength to face the unjust reality in which the poor live and to find suitable solutions which seek the Common Good and not the enrichment of only a few.
With my apostolic blessing, I close.
Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos Villeda SDB
Bishop of Santa Rosa de Copán
The original in Spanish is posted on my Spanish blog here.