Destaque Internacional - Informes de Coyuntura - Año VII - No. 166 - Buenos Aires / Madrid - Abril 28, 2005 - Responsable: Javier González.-

Benedict XVI, Latin America and the Left

The Latin-American continent continues to be the bulwark of the so-called "Catholic Left" and of its recent progeny, the World Social Forum, which explains the growing expectation as to how Benedict XVI will be able to confront that center of tension.

Latin America, having the largest number of Catholics, is a continent of hope for the Church. Nevertheless, it is a cause of concern that it continues to be the bulwark of the so-called "Catholic Left," and of its mentor, the theology of liberation. The "Catholic Left," after promoting revolutions on the continent and causing havoc in the Catholic flock in the decades from the seventies to the nineties, seemed to have lost force and some predicted its extinction. But it has revived, contributing to the creation of a new offspring, the World Social Forum (WSF), an enormous network of revolutionary movements.

Around the WSF, governments of the radical left are represented in the headlines by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and by the Communist dictator of Cuba, Fidel Castro; by indigenous movements that are destabilizing countries such as Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia; and by other governments of the left that appear moderate, such as those of Brazil and Uruguay, but that give priority to the post-Gramscian strategies of revolutionary "diversity," originating from the WSF, to bring about the painless and inadvertent transforming of mentalities. In Mexico, the populist Manuel López Obrador, supported by the left and encouraged by surveys that grant him certain favoritism, intends to challenge the presidential elections of 2006.

Destaque Internacional has analyzed these problems in numerous editorials, in which they articulate the relationship between the religious, economic, social, and political concerns. To these editorials we refer the interested reader. There exist without doubt other problems that could be added, all of which constitute no small challenge for the new Pontiff, Benedict XVI, on whose shoulders weighs and on whose lips depends, in an imponderable manner, the future of the continent.

It is understandable, then, that in Latin America there is expectation regarding how Benedict XVI will confront these nerve points that affect the reality of the continent.

For next May 20, in Havana, a group of peaceful members of the Cuban opposition, led by the former political prisoner Martha Beatriz Roque, has convoked a social assembly with the objective of encouraging the establishment in Cuba of an authentic democracy. The interest that this peaceful event is creating in the international community has placed the regime of Havana in such a situation as to make it difficult to simply repress and imprison that handful of opponents. Nevertheless, to the extent that May 20 is approaching, the tension is increasing and anything can happen in Havana. In this sense, Cuba will be able to constitute a decisive test for the new Pontiff and for Vatican diplomacy.