Suggestion Made for Battling Hunger in Latin America

Holy See Urges Support for Indians and Small Farmers

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CARACAS, Venezuela, MAY 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See called for support of small farmers and Indians in Latin America, to put an end to hunger and to achieve generalized levels of a dignified life.



Monsignor Renato Volante, the Holy See's permanent observer to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, presented that proposal to the delegations of 33 countries attending the Regional Conference for Latin America of the FAO, held in Caracas from April 24-28.

According to a document presented at the conference, which included FAO data for 2004, 18.6% of the total population of Latin America "is in a situation of extreme poverty."

In Latin America and the Caribbean there are 53 million people who do not have sufficient access to food despite the fact that the region produces food in sufficient quantities, according to figures of international groups such as FAO and the World Food Program.

The conference heard that only a few countries of the region will attain the U.N. targets for 2015, to reduce poverty by half.

In his intervention, now made public by the Holy See, Monsignor Volante pointed out "an obvious contradiction between the concrete potentialities and the will to actuate precise commitments to guarantee not only consumption, but more ample social conditions, health and nutritional levels of the population."

Uprooted

To achieve these objectives, the Vatican representative said that "the first reference must be" to "small farmers, often forgotten by institutions and ways of cooperation, or to Indian communities, uprooted from their habitat and forced to use models of production and consumption that are foreign to their traditions."

In short, these development objectives must have as their main criterion "respect for the dignity of the human person," stressed Monsignor Volante.

In the case of the agricultural world, this "means, among other things, that food safety cannot be confined to urgencies or relief in situations of absolute unsustainable degradation, also if in these contexts immediate action seems like the only possible objective," he continued.

Monsignor Volante explained that "the rural family" has an "irreplaceable function of guardian and continuer of knowledge, traditions, moral values, sense of harmony and value of life, all assumptions of a concrete solidarity between persons and generations."