Commentary on Latin America. Mostly about Mexico - but not always. Designed to encourage readers to learn about the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people spread across two continents - but not always. You can always count on a little snark.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Liberation Theology Alive and Well in Paraguay?
After Paraguay elected a Catholic leftist-bishop (who, it turns out, you could call "father" for more than just his job description) they really dropped off the religious radar screen (and political radar screen) for many followers of Latin America. While that Catholic president is in a world of hot water with the congress (a whole other post), the Catholic Episcopate Conference of Uruguay has declared on the side of the ava guarani people of the Itakyry district in the department of Alto Parana (SE Paraguay).
It turns out department officials and land owners are jockeying to seize land owned by the state of Paraguay considered ancestral territory for the ava guarani, and the Paraguayan bishops consider it a violation of the "derechos de los pueblos indígenas" and would cause a massive migration to Paraguayan cities of landless indians.
A couple of years ago I got into a professional scrape with an "independent scholar" who claimed that liberation theology was dead and that its last academic proponent, Edward Cleary, was a deluded old Dominican whose scholarship needed ignoring because of his religious affiliation. I maintained that Cleary's studies demonstrated liberation theology alive and well in places like Bolivia, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. I still stand by Cleary (unless some great new piece of research points me in a new direction) and I would argue that the case of Paraguay demands some attention in terms of the persistence of the left-leaning church in Latin America.
And yes, the ava guarani are the ones displaced by the presa de jasyretä dam (called the monument to corruption in Paraguay) that is set to rise another several meters and displace another 80,000 people.
(Click on the picture to see some great flickr.com photos of the ava guarani and the Itykary area).
Jason Dormady is currently an associate professor of history at Central Washington University where he teaches courses on Mexico, general Latin American topics, world history, and religion in Latin America. He is also a member of the CWU Latin@ and Latin American Studies program faculty. You can read about my research interests at Academia.
The statements on this page do not reflect the views of Central Washington University or the Latin@ and Latin American Studies program.