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Indigenous Peoples Bracing for Recession Effects

5th National Assembly Parallels Family Meeting

By Sergio Estrada

MEXICO CITY, JAN. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Indigenous communities will be among the hardest hit by the recession, but they have the advantage of counting on each other’s support, says a Mexican bishops’ aide.

Within the framework of the 6th World Meeting of Families, the 5th National Assembly of Indigenous Ministry was held, organized by a commission of the Mexican bishops’ conference.

Led by Bishop Felipe Arizmendi of San Cristobal de las Casas, the meeting aimed to look at the topic of families from four perspectives: indigenous families in the context of globalization; identity and mission of indigenous families as formators in human values; work experiences and proposals for action guidelines; and preparation of the 6th Assembly of Indigenous Ministry.

Father Rómulo Sánchez, secretary of the commission, spoke with ZENIT about values transmitted in a particular way in indigenous communities, such as respect for the elderly and solidarity.

“We see God from the Jewish perspective as a totality,” he said. “We live in contact with God, who lives and walks with us.”

Father Sánchez noted how during the assembly, fraternity and solidarity were proposed, particularly in answer to the global recession.

The priest explained that “it seems that government programs favor the indigenous peoples, nevertheless it is in the sector of the indigenous peoples where the economic crisis is going to hit, given that they have fewer possibilities and opportunities to excel.”

With the encouragement to solidarity, the commission secretary added, they hope to avoid an attitude of “making ourselves dependent on support systems.”

“We should not be surviving on what they are giving us,” he said. “We have to be diligent for ourselves and our communities.”

Subsidiarity

Father Sánchez considered the initiatives indigenous communities could take up to make the recession less difficult: “We have to be in solidarity among communities; there is support among us and we recognize each other. Therefore, we consider ourselves as members and brothers of a community and consequently, there is solidarity and subsidiarity among the indigenous.”

Among the conclusions of the national assembly, the priest highlighted that of “boosting family values and becoming aware of values, renewing them to conserve them as a mission of indigenous families; among the spirituality, solidarity and the respect to recognize ourselves and respect ourselves as indigenous brothers, without being ashamed because every human being has a culture.”

Indigenous peoples from more than eight Mexican states participated in the assembly; one of the final observations was that some 100 indigenous languages are in danger of being lost because there are no longer communities where those tongues are spoken.

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