Dear sisters, dear brothers, very good morning/afternoon.
First of all, I wanted to thank the entire community of Sant'Egidio for this opportunity to meet and reflect together about the future we want. I also want to tell you that this is my very first participation in an international meeting so I am very happy to be here and also somewhat nervous.
These words, which I bring from Latin America, are not my own or personal ideas but the fruit of many meetings and collective reflections of popular movements, whom I humbly want to represent today in this panel.
We are living in very difficult times, where all our problems and pains have become deeply aggravated. Poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunities, access to education and health care are now more than ever restricted to huge numbers of brothers and sisters.
The pandemic has revealed what the popular movements of the world have been denouncing: the exhaustion of a system that is exploitative, predatory and destructive of life, where money is above human beings and nature. Few times in history, inequalities have been so rampant among peoples and within nations. It is enough to see the unjust distribution of vaccines to understand that there is not a real international community but a scandalous domination of the big economic groups and a handful of powers that hoard indispensable goods, such as vaccines that curb the pandemic.
Ultimately, the rich and powerful are now richer and more powerful because they have taken advantage of the needs of global confinement and, above all, they have taken advantage of the need for all of us to survive. On the other hand, the poor are poorer today.
I deeply welcome this meeting. The meeting of those of us who resist the culture of discarding and the globalization of indifference. The meeting of those of us who have adopted an attitude of solidarity, effort, good will and fraternity in the face of the crisis. I believe that it is from these values that we can build the future we want. As Pope Francis asks us: "let us be showers of change".
The first contribution I would like to suggest towards the future that we want is the invitation to deepen the preferential option for the poor. I believe that the Pope invites us to practice the social doctrine of the Church, clarifying that this not only implies solidarity with the poor, but also recognizing them as a social and political subject, promoting their leading role. In other words, it is not simply a matter of working for the poor but of fighting together with the poor against the structural causes of inequality and injustice.
The future we want is with the leading of the humble. It is from there is built the claim of the three sacred rights: Roof, Land and Work.
Decent work must be defended together with the implementation of policies that restore lost rights: decent wages, social security and retirement. On the other hand, we also build alternative forms of economy. We want a social and community economy where solidarity prevails over money. It is necessary that governments strengthen the efforts that emerge from the peripheries. We also propose the implementation of the Universal Wage, which works as a mechanism for a better distribution of wealth, where those who do not access anything can receive the opportunity to move forward.
Secondly, the Roof, guarantee the right of access to decent housing. We denounce the speculation and commercialization of land and urban goods. We must work for a comprehensive urban reform, articulating participatory public policies that achieve the integration of marginalized neighborhoods and allow us to build homes with security and dignity.
The land, the third right; in the perspective of the universal destiny of goods I want to draw attention to the large concentrations of land in few hands. Speculation linked to agribusiness that promotes monoculture must be regulated. These practices destroy biodiversity, destroy the environment, displace peasant populations and poison our food with agro toxics. It is our duty to build a just and equitable distribution of universal goods. We reaffirm the struggle for the definitive elimination of hunger, the defense of food sovereignty and the production of healthy food. We also emphatically reject the private ownership of seeds by large agro-industrial groups. Likewise, we reaffirm the defense of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples on sustainable agriculture.
Let us dream of a future with Roof, land and Work for all our sisters and brothers.
I would also like to share with you the burden that many countries that have not yet achieved development carry. Our economies are crushed by historical debts, many illegitimate, financial scams that the world calls foreign debt. How much longer do poor countries have to pay with the suffering of our people? How much more does international financial power want to accumulate? How long will we continue to regard these practices as lawful? Let us have the courage to demand the cancellation of the external debt of the developing countries.
We also want a future where bridges between peoples really exist, where the culture of encounter is customary. We must commit ourselves to combating any form of discrimination between human beings, whether by ethnic differences, skin color, gender, religion or sexual orientation. We want a future with bridges and no walls, where migration is a right and no longer a crime.
The future we want is also with gender equality. Today that we are witnessing a day of interreligious dialogue, I must say that most of the cults and religions are far behind the cultural advance in this terms. This is not a universal problem; it is rather a problem of some churches. We want a future with parity and representation of women in religions.
Last but not least, there is no future unless we defend Mother Earth. In the words of Pope Francis: "The common house of all is being plundered, devastated and humiliated with impunity. Cowardice in their defense is a grave sin" (Address to the Popular Movements, Santa Cruz de la Sierra). We need strict compliance with multilateral commitments on mitigation and adaptation to climate change, urgently! Maybe we’ll be the last generations able to stop the environmental collapse, then it’ll be too late.
Sisters, brothers, it’s really nice to be here with you. To sum up, the future we want is: with the leadership of the poor and with roof, land and work, without debts that drown peoples, with equality of gender, with a prospering common house; and also with a planet full of bridges where there is a fraternal international citizenship, where the walls of exclusion and xenophobia are torn down, and all human beings are received equally.
We can achieve this, with strength, with hope, with faith and with struggle!
Thank you very much.