Declaration of Mourning and a Call to Prayer For the People of Argentina
On February 5, staff of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church had an opportunity to hear Bishop Nelly Ritchie of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina speak about the current crisis in her country. Expressing appreciation for the quick response that the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) extended, Bishop Ritchie said it enabled them to assist people turning to the church in this difficult time. The church community has created a barter system where they are exchanging services in absence of money, she stated. "We're pressed but coming out strong in this process of socializing what we have."
Bishop Ritchie requests prayers and continued support for the church and people as this crisis escalates.
The Rev. Chris and Martha Stockwell-Goering are missionaries assigned to Argentina. In their most recent newsletter, they shared how Methodist congregations in the region along with an inter-religious group of Jews, Christians, and Muslims came together and endorsed a statement to address what is occurring in the country. The inter-faith body began by stating:
...We believe that it is important for people of faith to speak the prophetic word to the pain that confronts us. We believe a non-violent witness and action that is simple can be made with integrity. We believe that moment is now for Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other persons of faith to show our love and hope to demonstrate our commitment to struggle against the powers and principalities of injustice that seek to remove our humanity...
Their declaration follows:
We grieve because...
...more than 14 million Argentines live without having their basic needs satisfied.
...every year another 1 million Argentines are marginalized by poverty.
...more than 30% of the active population do not have jobs.
...retired persons are receiving 13% less of their already meager pensions.
...the elderly don't have medical coverage due to corrupt civil servants that ruined their insurance system-PAMI.
..many fathers and mothers, in search of jobs, have to live far from their families.
...every day more children live on the street and more children die from hunger.
...those gravely and chronically ill do not receive medical attention because hospitals are understaffed.
...the ill cannot buy their medications due to economic speculation.
...public education is profoundly deteriorated.
...hundreds of Argentines decide every day to leave their country because they don't see any future or hope in remaining.
...many young people do not get a first job nor do they continue their studies.
...the devalued salaries of public workers have been reduced by another 13%, while legislators and judges receive exorbitant compensation and privileged pensions.
...so many state and private workers do not receive their salaries.
...workers awaiting back wages lose goods and utility service because "due dates" don't take late salaries into account.
...many trade leaders enrich themselves and participate in unethical business practices.
...there are so many corrupt Argentines, from the top down.
...the media contributes to the distortion and corruption instead of offering positive values, and many absorb these misconceptions while closing their eyes to the reality of their neighbors.
...the politicians have done everything that can be done so that no one believes in them.
...the State manages the money of the average person as it pleases while those that amass fortunes illegitimately take wealth outside the country and remain unpunished.
...the agricultural and industrial production of the country is in ruins.
...we are slaves to a foreign debt: illegitimate, abusive, and unpayable.
...our national resources and wealth were auctioned off without regard for the consequences and those who were responsible are not brought to justice for their personal enrichment.
...business deals with other countries and national and foreign companies permit businesses to destroy the environment and harm the health of the population.
...despite the clear desires of the people, no one renovates the Supreme Court so that real independence is given to all the branches of government.
...so many Argentines buy without critical thought, in chain stores and supermarkets that exploit their workers unfairly and ruin local business people and the economic infrastructure.
...we have stayed silent too long, while many of our brothers and sisters suffered from hunger.
FOR THIS WE ARE MOURNING.
Date posted: Feb 07, 2002