Latin American bishops testify in D.C. against extractive industries

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — U.S. and Canadian bishops joined their Latin American counterparts who came to Washington to testify over the environmental and social ills wrought by extractive industries such as mining and logging.

The bishops testified March 19 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a bid to heighten awareness of the degradation of land, water — and people’s lives — brought about by companies, most of them foreign-owned, taking resources from the earth to boost their profits.

Bishop Roque Paloschi of Roraima, a member of the Brazilian bishops’ Amazon commission, told Catholic News Service before the hearing that “the large financial companies” must bear some of the responsibility, as they finance the operations of transnational mining and logging firms. It is not only the land that is being exploited, Bishop Roque said through an interpreter, but also “the indigenous and nonindigenous people that are being exploited.”

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said he sees a link between extraction and immigration. “We cannot separate the consequences of migration from the fundamental ‘root causes’ existing in these countries,”

Bishop Cantu said in a March 17 letter to Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Colombia, president of the Latin American bishops’ council, known by its Spanish acronym as CELAM.