U.S./Latin America as System – Complicity, injustice, and hope out of chaos

Complicity – U.S. intervention and the collapse of a region
René Girard, in Violence and the Sacred, writes “The god who has appeared malleable and complaisant, a willing servant of mankind, always manages to slip away at the last moment, leaving destruction in his wake” (Girard, 143). This quote seems a strikingly accurate likeness of United States political and economic intervention in Latin America. U.S. and international influences appeared on the surface to be “informal” and cooperative; influence as “new-model imperialism” was touted as a “civilizing mission…a blessing to the dominated countries” (Galeano, 207). As the Girard quote above suggests, however, the pretense of blessing swiftly disappeared, leaving broken and dependent countries behind. Multinational industry and corporations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, and other international powers all joined in a promise of development and stability for Latin America. What remains of this promise is evident in the human cost of failed economic and often violent political interventions.

Injustice – The human cost of a corrupt system
The widespread intervention of U.S. and international financial interests in Latin America has had shocking consequences for human dignity in the region. In Brazil, economic failures linked to the interference of multinational corporations led to widespread poverty and the brutal suppression of groups seeking economic justice and equality (Galeano, 212). International Monetary Fund policies, heralded as the saving grace for the economically isolated, weakened Latin American states to the point of and over the brink of collapse. The human cost of these “saving” policies was, and continues to be, crippling poverty and violent internal conflict (Galeano, 221). Without self-sustaining industry and production to create jobs, even the human capital of the Latin American population – educated scientists and technicians – is drained from the continent. International promises that wealth would eventually reach the entirety of a country’s population continue to ring hollow in the ears of the millions of people living in abject poverty. The inequality gap between the rich and poor continues to widen.

Hope out of chaos – Christ as a liberating force
Out of chaos and broken promises, the voices of the most vulnerable have found power in the message and promise of the Gospel. Theology in the Latin American context is one that seeks to “take seriously the suffering of the innocent” as the only way to “speak out of their hope” (Gutierrez, 319). The only fitting theology is one of liberation. A liberating theology necessarily locates itself in the tangible realities of human suffering. In a world dominated by broken promises, Latin American liberation theology raises its voice amidst the deepest of suffering – proclaiming the promise and power of God’s love and a call for justice. Latin America’s Christians bear witness to a history of suffering and call for the world to recognize its complicity in the destruction of human life. The message of liberation theology in Latin America reveals a God who brings not devastation and abandonment, but one whose ultimate and infinite plan for human history is one of fullness, shalom, and grace.

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