Wednesday, 10 September 2003

Guatemala City (Agenzia Fides) - “Peace is possible, a Responsible Vote is an Opportunity” is the title of a message issued by the Conference of Bishops of Guatemala denouncing clearly and with courage spreading violence, injustice, oppression and corruption throughout the country. The Bishops urge the people, all too aware of the situation, to reflect deeply and take a responsible part in the next presidential elections, 9 November, because every vote counts for building a better society.
In part-one of their message “The situation in our country”, the bishops speak of the difficult local reality stressing situations of injustice which are the cause of widespread violence: “We live in a country in which there are state workers who fail to carry out their duty... this is demonstrated by scandalous cases of corruption, growing criminality especially against women, thefts and assaults, organised crime, increase in drug trafficking, attacks on human rights activists”. The Bishops lament the absence of a government policy to promote human development: the process of impoverishment continues, provoking “disconcertion, lack of confidence and disillusionment among the people”. The Bishops note with regret that although Guatemalans are mainly Christians, society does not live Christian love: “Indifference towards the poor, the excluded, migrants, peasants, indigenous peoples, city workers, domestic helpers, street children, sexually exploited minors, challenges our manner of living our faith ”.
In part-two of their message - “the homeland every Guatemalan desires” – the Bishops illustrate traits necessary for building a Guatemala ruled by respect for the rights of every individual, respect for life, where co-existence is founded on the truth, where the media serve to communicate the truth, where justice reigns and where respect for law, which promotes a rule of law, is a reality, where co-existence of different ethnic groups, cultures and social classes is based on respect for differences, where solidarity grows and is the value which inspires economic order. “we Guatemalans want a country where we can breathe and grow in freedom in every sense” the Bishops say.
In part-three - “facing the electoral process” -, the Bishops give certain criteria for reflection and evaluation to help Guatemalans vote with responsibility at the next presidential elections.:
“We must not shirk our duty and our right to take part in politics, indeed we must influence politics with our Christian values and heal ills. We urge you to vote with responsibility before God, before yourselves and before society. Vote above all for a government which will work for the common good and for a party which guarantees solidarity and reconciliation, promotes the dignity and equality of Guatemalans; we urge each one to vote according to their own criteria and not let him or her self be influenced or intimidated. We urge you not to vote for candidates who promote violence, foment authoritarianism or dictatorship, or favour repression, corruption or drug trafficking. We trust that no one will sell his vote of let religious belief be used to obtain it”
The Bishops conclude urging the Supreme Court and officials to fulfil their duty to protect and guarantee free and fair elections. They also encourage national and international institutions which will act as observers during the elections.
(R.Z.) (Fides Service10/9/2003; lines 44; words 566).