The Mexican bishop emeritus advocates that Spain apologize for the extermination of the original peoples with the conquest

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Entrevista con el obispo retirado de la diócesis de Saltillo, Raúl Vera. En Ciudad de México el día 21 de septiembre de 2021. Religioso cuya trayectoria a favor de los indigenas, las personas migrantes y los mineros lo ha hecho merecedor de muchos reconocimientos, entre ellos, estar nominado al premio Nobel de la Paz.

Raúl Vera: “Indigenous people, homosexuals, prostitutes … in these people is where God manifests himself most”

This bishop is a show. Who would have guessed: he appears like a ghost, his short stature covered in the pale habit of the Dominicans and the mask on. Oh when I take it off. That hairless tongue will lash out at the Church for its “infection of clericalist power”, at the “corrupt and criminal” governments, at the landowners, at the conquerors. Raúl Vera has just retired as bishop of Saltillo (Coahuila, Mexico) but no one thinks that he is going to shut up because of that. He is from the lineage of Liberation Theology, those religious people who, when they are not assassinated, are proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize. He himself was. Hardened trade unionist; as a good religious, an enormous politician; talkative like himself. The whole conversation will drum their fingers on the table, as if sitting in a chair and they will laugh out loud, they will make parodies by imposing their voice. There is no record that does not pass through his face. I said, a showman.

When the Church and the political power were fed up with Bishop Samuel Ruiz, the friend of the indigenous people of Chiapas, in the midst of the Zapatista revolution, they sent Raúl Vera to put order, but the manager left them a frog: another who was on the side of the poor , that blessed plague of the religious in Latin America. So when he was appointed bishop they sent him to the other side of the Mexican map, from the jungle to the desert, to summarize. But in Mexico the causes are not over. In the north he ran into the misfortunes of migrants who want to go to the United States, women raped by the Army, dead miners. And a car with a good engine was requested in case they had to run away, as happened on occasion. Because he was not going to be quiet. Not that.


Question. Drug trafficking, crimes, disappearances, femicides, violence of all kinds. What reasons are there in Mexico to believe in their God?

Answer. The indigenous people, the homosexuals, the prostitutes … Those people who are on the edge are where God manifests himself the most. What reason is there to believe that they cannot organize? If the indigenous know how to look at the sky and predict rain or drought, wind or heat, how could they not judge and analyze the signs of their society and what is fair or not fair. Is it better to think otherwise and exploit them? When I was studying in Europe, to see God they looked at the sky, no, you have to see God here, on earth. We bishops live in a sea of ​​poor people, and what do we do for them? All to taste.

P. The indigenous also do their outrages …

A. They always have. Of course, women are very confined, for example. It is poverty. But why don’t they look at the misery a worker earns or what a pregnant woman can do if she can’t support a child, or those social interest houses that are lofts where children live promiscuity … 13 year old girl. Why are we not aware of the conditions with which we have created all this mass of problems, which we later orthodoxly want to condemn no more.

Q. The world is messy, you say. Was it ever ordered?

R. There are places with a civilization of Christian values ​​and more justice, when I studied in Europe there were countries with values, at work there was a control. For example, in the Nordic countries, which are Protestant, workers are treated fairly. The differences are from Mexico. The Latin American continent is where there are more inequalities and, curiously, it is the most Catholic. How can that be explained?

Q. How?

R. Here there was no dialogue with the indigenous culture, here everything was imposed. We do not have Christian values ​​placed in society, the rich have no regard, not even with the minimum wage, there is no sensitivity, how is it possible. In Italy there was much more sense of the common good than there is in my homeland. They know that inequality is violence. We are badly evangelized. Many Catholics, but badly evangelized.

P. We do not leave the original fault of the Spanish.

R. Bartolomé de las Casas does not call them Spanish, he calls them Christians, all crimes were committed by Christians.

Q. So, between the cross and the sword, who did more crimes?

R. It was the sword, no way. Bartolomé de las Casas and others reacted against the Spanish in defense of the natives, who had souls. But evangelism was done very badly.

P. In Europe, however, many believers look with envy at the religious of Latin America, for their values ​​… In Europe there is not much Liberation Theology, you know …

R. It is because of clericalism, until today the Church has a monarchical government. The Vatican court is the only one in all of Europe that has not been modernized. What has damaged the Church is clericalism, which comes to say that by being clerics we are already more than the laity. Why is a woman less than us? There is a pyramid vision of the Church on this. First the Pope, then the cardinals … But all Christians have the same dignity that baptism gives us.

Q. But you wear those rings so imposing that perhaps the laity feel less when they come down to kiss your hand.

R. Oh, well look, this one used to bring a stone … [he says shaking his hand disdainfully towards the jewel]. But yes, they are signs. The church took on a monarchical structure, that is why the Pope had three crowns, which Paul VI gave to the FAO to be melted. Three crowns, the world emperor of the Church and the Vatican.

R. Mexico celebrates this year the bicentennial of its independence, but the indigenous communities are still in great neglect, without the most basic services, some. What has Mexico done for all of them?

R. Well, he has done nothing, nothing. And furthermore, let’s say it, [the governments] go a lot for the welfarism and the speeches that diminish the people, so that they do not rebel. And because of paternalism. In October 2011, the permanent village court was set up, where social organizations intervened to present complaints. A phenomenal diagnosis was made. I proposed starting a Citizen Constitution to politically educate the people, train them politically, and that the people appoint those who form the Congress. Because organizing them in law and justice is the end of politics. Everything stopped when the current government arrived, to see if all the offers it had made worked … But right now, I sincerely tell you, we have to continue with this court process.

Q. This government has let you down.

R. I learned from the Permanent Peoples Court that this government is not corrupt, but criminal. There are unscrupulous people within the government. I also said to myself: where is [the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador] going to get honest officials to do what he wants to do? We have lived many years of terrible decomposition of the structures, of corruption, of voracity, many years.

Q. So, is it not both the president and his officials?

R. Those who help you, too.

Q. This government has asked Spain to apologize for the conquest and its excesses.

R. They did atrocious things, they tried swords on the bodies, they took them to the mines, in three months 30,000 people died, that is extermination. They massacred people. Others came to get rich in five years and come back.

Q. So do you have to ask for forgiveness?

R. Well, yes, you have to ask for forgiveness.

Q. What do you say to those who argue that 500 years of that have already passed?

R. That there are the wounds. On the basis of what did they bring their civilization, why did they come, to get rich? To take over the land?

Q. You said before that the Church must form the people politically. If that were transferred to Europe, some would put their hands to their heads.

R. Much of my work has been among civil society, focusing on a Church where civil society has a place, yes, of course. The presence of the Church in civil society and the defense of citizens is the commandment of love.

Q. Where do you get that energy from? He’s stirring up the layers of habit that looks like it’s going to blow away.

R. I decided to change the world, that’s why I entered as a Dominican, to change the world

Q. And isn’t a person who fights for human rights and justice his whole life disappointed when he sees that little or nothing changes?

R. I am not disappointed, God is going to hold me accountable, I cannot say that I am tired.

Q. That is, you do it so that God does not scold you.

R. Ha ha, no, it’s what God wants. Not what I want.

Q. You studied to be a chemical engineer, among other things.

R. Yes, but where I could work were all American companies that falsified their profits and looted the country, which had years of dictatorship of parties and unions …

P. If it is for the ethics of the companies, half the world would take the habits, right?

R. I wanted to stay at the university, but in the student movement of ’68 it gave me the last push not to work in chemistry.

Q. They say that when the Pope wants to find out about Mexico he calls Raúl Vera.

A. I gave him information, yes, I gave it to him. And I have personally spoken with him, yes.

Q. What are you asking?

R. I present to you the problems that the Church has to address. And also the problems of the Church itself. All bishops have these interventions.

P. Francisco says that the devil has taken it with Mexico.

R. The pope has great outings and surely he said it in one of those. We have drug trafficking in here and we cannot take it off, it is a serious problem. In addition, it enters through the government structures: it began with the mayoralties, they financed the appointment of municipal presidents, then they placed the person in charge of Security, so they already had the police and political leaders at their command … How it worked for them then they continued with the deputies, senators …

Q. When is that going to stop?

R. When we become subjects of history and there the Church has a primary role. But for that we must lose clericalism, not think that we are power because we deal with the powerful. What matters is that the poor love you.

Q. The church must play its role. And the State, does not ask anything?

R. Precisely! If we took our place and stopped being friends with the governor… What is it about me being a parish priest, because I have to be a friend of the mayor; I am bishop, then of the governor; I am a cardinal, because I speak with the President of the Republic. This is an infection of power that leads us to be quiet.

P. Many of the believers are well away from those theses of yours.

R. Uy, it is very comfortable, uy, very comfortable, a happy life imagining that everything is like that, it avoids commitments.

P. It is that the Church makes it very easy. The sinner goes, confesses, and goes home with a clear conscience.

A. There are situations in which people confess a weakness, but you discover that it is a way of life. They are in a structure in which they repeat evil and general evil. So why are they going to confession? Well, I won’t give you absolution, I told one.

Q. You will also have some weakness, Don Raúl.

R. Many … I would have to confess, ha ha. When you lose your laurels over little things, that’s the worst.

Q. But the Nobel Prize would want it, right?

R. No [lengthens the no].

P. How not?

A. I did not look for it. They gave me the Rafto. And I just received recognition from the La Laguna Bar Association, who have invented the award to give it to me.

Q. Well, choose a cardinal sin, the one that finds you weakest.

R. Well, that, pride, ego, that’s what I have to take care of the most. Things happen to me that I don’t think should happen to me, things, things. I have to be careful, because when I lose care is when it is worst for me. Oh, no matter how hard I fought, I did manage to believe it.

Q. Putting your finger on the sore is dangerous in Mexico. Are you not afraid for your life?

R. I lived in Chiapas the times when the paramilitaries killed catechists. And I had the protection of the Vatican, those who believed that Don Samuel Ruiz was a bastard, and I was in charge of solving that. I saw the sacrifice of the catechists and I said to myself: Raulito, decide. Can you be the bishop of some who risk their lives, and kill them, and you the good boy of Daddy Government, who will never do anything to you? Either you start walking in the middle of the danger they are in, or you better leave here tomorrow, I told myself.

P. Do you think that danger is already averted?

A. No, never. As things are in the political and economic and social order, no no. Nothing changes because now it does not have a diocese. I’ve always thought that they can kill me and I don’t want to stop thinking, it’s not out of anguish. There was a time when the Army people made a map of my house. When I got to Saltillo they were chasing me. We got the soldiers who raped women into jail. I had a chase, I never saw my driver so white. They went as civilians, at 12 at night. I always told parents, hey, excuse me, but give me a car with a motor, let it run.

P. In Chiapas things are not going better, the Zapatistas speak of an imminent civil war.

R. It is the impunity in which the Government of Chiapas leaves the murdered, the displaced. There are armed attacks and the governor keeps everything unpunished. The federal Army cannot fully supply the state ones. The narco has entered very strong today, there are cartel disputes, it is impunity!

Q. Do you have hopes of change?

A. Yes, evil has no future. There are many good people, the indigenous people are a great reservoir of wisdom. When the Roman Empire fell in Europe there was a civilizational crisis and it was the monks in their monasteries who saved it with their values. That saved Europe, the mystique of those monks, who gave a basis to create a new civilization. Today those values ​​are in the native peoples, they are the ones who have the spiritual reserve to give life to this world. We are not orphans.

Source: elpais.com

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