AMERICA/CHILE - Recognition of ecclesial organizations for the defense of human rights during the dictatorship

Monday, 3 April 2023 human rights   local churches  

Santiago (Agenzia Fides) - "Thank you for this work, for risking your life to protect those who were persecuted for their ideas at the time, for believing in a different world, for fighting for justice". These are the words spoken by the President of the Chilean Republic, Gabriel Boric Font, "as President of the Republic and aware of the dignity and importance of the office", during the public meeting held yesterday afternoon, April 2, in La Castrina de San Joaquín park , in Santiago.
During the meeting, attended by a thousand people, the work of Javier Egaña (who served as executive secretary of the Vicariate of Solidarity and then Chilean ambassador to the Vatican), priest Esteban Gumucio and five organizations was recognized : the Vicariate of Solidarity, the Committee for Peace (COPACHI), the National Committee for Aid to Refugees, the Social Assistance Foundation of Christian Churches (FASIC) and the Peace and Justice Service (Serpaj). These institutions have contributed to making visible, documenting and providing legal, economic and psychological assistance to Chileans who suffered persecution, political violence and violations of their human rights during the military dictatorship. Recognition took the form in the delivery of small native trees.
Former workers of the Vicariate of Solidarity and Fasic, two of the recognized organizations, members of human rights organizations, missing prisoners and victims of political executions, as well as members of the Christian communities of Popular sectors of Santiago, past and present, also took part in the event. Evangelical and Protestant pastors and church leaders as well as members of the Jewish community were also present.
President Boric thanked these institutions and, quoting the words of Fr Esteban Gumucio, underlined: "I cannot help but think that 50 years after the coup, we still have prisoners who have disappeared in Chile", then he concluded: "Just as yesterday, when human rights defenders fought tirelessly for democracy, it is up to us today to pursue this fundamental and permanent task of building a culture that allows us to consider the future with hope".
According to the information released by the Episcopal Conference, during the meeting the "Cantata of Human Rights, Cain and Abel" was interpreted, a work written by the priest of the Sacred Hearts, Esteban Gumucio - who died in 2001 and whose cause for canonization is in progress - and whose music was composed by Alejandro Guarello and the Ortiga group, who also performed it at its premiere.
Gumucio and Guarello had been summoned by Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, then Archbishop of Santiago, to perform it as a cultural act at the inauguration of the International Symposium on Human Rights, on November 25, 1978, in the Cathedral of Santiago, in front of social and political leaders, ambassadors and Christian communities, in the midst of the military dictatorship. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 3/4/2023)