In paragraph 66, the bishops start with an analysis of the growing power of transnational financial institutions and companies to the detriment of the governments in Latin America. Thus development programs are at risk.
Financial institutions and transnational companies are becoming stronger to the point that local economies are subordinated, especially weakening the local States, which seem ever more powerless to carry out development projects at the service of their populations, especially when it involves long-term investments with no immediate dividends.
Mining and agribusiness are of particular concern.
International extractive industries and agribusiness often do not respect the economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of the local populations, and do not assume their responsibilities.
For more than ten years, mining – extractive industries – have been major points of contention in Latin America, particularly in Perú, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The bishops’ concerns have not included the environment but the preservation of indigenous lands and the participation of local populations in decision-making about mining.
There have been innumerable church-sponsored meetings at the national and regional level on mining. Even Cardinal Peter Turkson of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace has commented on the issue at the 2012 conference on rural life, noting the experience of his native Ghana. Text here. In 2013 the Vatican also hosted a day of reflection on ethical issues related to mining.
For the bishops, economic development must be placed in the perspective of care for nature.
Preserving nature is very often subordinated to economic development, with damage to biodiversity, exhaustion of water reserves and other natural resources, air pollution, and climate change.
The bishops also comment very briefly on biofuels.
The possibilities and potential problems of producing biofuels should be studied so that the value of human persons and their survival needs prevail.
Here in Honduras the appropriation of land for the extraction of palm oil for biofuels has been a contentious issue, resulting in close to 100 deaths in the last four years.
The bishops close this paragraph with a note on aquifers and forest land, noting their importance for the health of the planet. A particular concern for South America, particularly Brazil, is the Amazon rainforest where major conflicts have arisen over land and its use.
Latin America has the most abundant aquifers on the planet, along with vast extensions of forest lands which are humanity’s lungs. The world thus receives free of charge environmental services, benefits that are not recognized economically. The region is affected by the warming of the earth and climate change caused primarily by the unsustainable way of life of industrialized countries.