Javier Sicilia, a columnist for Mexico’s weekly newsmagazine, Proceso, now leads a nation-wide movement against the collusion of governments, organized crime and big business in the drug trade. Speaking from broadly inclusive Christian roots, his voice is celebrated as one that re-inserts ethics in public debate.

In Proceso, his writings about the ways churches and non-governmental organizations work in “development” (the same term used by promoters of everything from nuclear power to metals mining), served as an inspiration to me as I began to share my thoughts about development and related questions through this blog space.

Here are samples of some of his comments on a range of issues.

Christmas, Proceso, Dec. 26, 2010

“We have just celebrated Christmas—the mystery of God’s descent, of renunciation of omnipotence and power—in circumstances that deny Christmas. Beyond the rituals, the stories that speak of a God made flesh, present in an impoverished child born away from home, in a cave. Beyond the carols and the liturgies that celebrate this humility, is the accumulating silence of the 30,000 victims [sic: a year later, the number used is 50,000] of the dream of money, the cries of thousands of families torn apart, the noise of men and women who fight for power….

“Whatever our personal weaknesses, what makes the presence of the Child of Bethlehem possible is rooted in four commitments that are always difficult to maintain: the refusal to lie about what one knows, resistance to the humiliation of any human being, awareness of our limits, and renunciation of power and money so that we are open to encounters with others…. Men and women who work for power, men and women who take advantage of others, the violent ones, the powerful, the criminals, the rich, those who are satisfied, who want to impose something on others, who ignore even while they celebrate: the Child is born and in the midst of the imbecility of the powers of the world, in the secret of the night, the world is transformed.”

“In Gold We Trust,” Proceso, June 1, 2008

“God and money—two incompatible realities in all the great traditions—have become one….

“How do we escape its influence?” asks Sicilia.

“We would have to think not in terms of worth and goods, but rather of virtues, whose strengths are rooted in the search for what is good and beautiful in and of itself… and generate not the exchange of goods, but rather solidarity and communion in that which is good. We would have to live and conceive of God not as an abstraction, but rather as a reality that is incarnated in our neighbour and in nature; that is to say, as a freely-given reality that asks for the same generosity towards the diversity of faces.”

“Estamos hasta la madre: Open letter to politicians and criminals,” Proceso, April 3, 2011

“We’re fed up with you, politicians—and when I say politicians, I am not referring to anyone in particular, but rather to a good part of you, including those who make up the parties—because in your struggles for power you have torn apart the fabric of the nation, because in the midst of this badly-planned war, badly done, badly directed, this war that has placed the country in a state of emergency, you have been incapable—because of your pettiness, your fights, your miserable cheap shots, your struggle for power—of creating the consensus that the nation needs so as to find unity…. We are fed up with you because the only thing that that matters to you, besides impotent power that only administers disgrace, is money, promotion of competition, your damned “competitiveness” and unrestrained consumption, which are other names for violence.

“And of you, criminals, we are fed up with your violence, your loss of honour, your cruelty, your meaninglessness. Before, you had codes of honour. You were not so cruel in your settling of accounts and you did not touch citizens or our families…. You have become cowards like the miserable Nazi Sonderkommandos that killed innocent children, men and women, without reason…. We are fed up with you because in your drive for power and wealth, you humiliate our children and destroy them and you produce fear.

“I also think that dignity must be returned to this nation.”

The last line alludes to the way Sicilia ends his Proceso columns. In the mid-90s, after the government first reached an agreement with the Zapatista rebels on Indigenous rights and culture, and then abandoned it, Sicilia began to end his columns with: “I also think that the San Andrés Accords must be respected.” Many thing have happened since then, so his Dec. 18, 2011, column ended:

“I also think that the San Andrés Accords must be respected, Zapatista political prisoners be released, the Costco-CM [shopping centre] at the Casino de la Selva [in Cuernavaca] be dismantled, the crimes against women in Juárez be investigated, that the mine in Cerro San Pedro be removed, that political prisoners in Oaxaca be freed, that Ulíses Ruíz [the former governor of Oaxaca] be tried, that the security strategy be changed and that restitution be offered to the victims of Calderón’s war.”

 

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