Neoliberal economics in retreat, says Christian gathering

By agency reporter
21 Oct 2008

There is a "gradual retreat of neoliberalism" in the region, according to participants in a Latin America and Caribbean ecumenical Christian consultation to examine the links between poverty, wealth and ecology.

Convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Latin American Council of Churches and the Christian Ecumenical Council of Guatemala, the consultation was held in Guatemala, 6-10 October 2008, and was attended by 45 participants.

Among the indicators of the gradual retreat of neoliberalism, the consultation noted the increasing strength of the movements of indigenous peoples, peasants and women, the emergence of democratic governments in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Paraguay "that defend national and popular interests" and the development of regional cooperation and solidarity initiatives.

In addition to these "signs of hope", participants also noted a series of global problems, including the climate crisis "caused by human beings, especially by the industries of the countries of the North, which are mainly responsible for the greenhouse effect"; the "ecological debt" due to "the destruction of ecosystems for purposes of human consumption, especially irresponsible consumption in the North"; the food crisis, which is not due to "a lack of food but rather to the fact that millions of human beings cannot buy it"; the global financial crisis, the origin of which lies in "the usury and endless accumulation that are in the very nature of capitalism"; and the "profound inequity" in the distribution of wealth, which particularly affects Latin America and Africa.

The participants in the consultation recommended to the region's churches that they make visible "the predatory and anti-civilization characteristics of the neoliberal model"; "actively accompany the people's resistance" in defence of their economic, social, cultural, political and environmental rights; and use "all their ethical and spiritual capital" to promote a "wide-ranging mobilization and coordination of social movements and actors."

The consultation is one of a series of regional consultations that forms part of the AGAPE (Alternative Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth) initiative promoted by the WCC. It was immediately preceded by three events focusing on the problems of indigenous peoples, youth and women.

Full text of the Guatemala Declaration - http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=6363

WCC programme on: Poverty, wealth and ecology: the impact of economic globalization - http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=3117

Additional information on AGAPE - Alternative Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth - http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=2986

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