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Date: Fri, 25 Sep 98 13:21:56 CDT
From: Maryknoll Brazil SPPG <maryknollbr@ax.apc.org>
Subject: News from Brazil, No. 321
Article: 43926
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.15881.19980926181607@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

SEJUP (Servico Brasileiro de Justice e Paz),
News from Brazil, No. 321, 25 September 1998

Jubilee letter to the Brazilian people

Tempo e Presenca, 1998

Five hundred years after the Letter in that the European settlers described, for the first time, the beauties and the richness of Brazil, comes another Letter to the Brazilian people. This letter describes the joys, concerns and hopes of more than 10 thousand people that participated at the Brazilian Social Awareness Week.

The CNBB (National Conference of Bishops for Brazil) every year promotes three weeks of Social Awareness, this year they incorporated it as part of the Church’s program to celebrate the two thousand years of the birth of Jesus. Various entities, ecumenical groups and popular movements coordinated the Brazilian Social Awareness Week.

Motivated by the Christian Faith, that summons us to remove the mountains of ignorance and of indifference; motivated by the commitment with the people, who live in intolerable situations of pain and suffering; and motivated by a new millennium, the 396 participants of the National Movment of the Social Awareness Week, gathered in Itaici São Paulo, to denounced the social debts that continue to oppress the Brazilian population and we commit ourselves to overcome this oppression.


They are the debts that the elite use to dominate and oppress the people. Debts that are materialized in unemployment, in the giving of miserly wages, in the exploitation and abandonment of the small farmers', abandonment of fishermen, maintaining people in slavery - that is the constant daily struggle for food and survival, of the homeless, the landless, the extermination of the indigenous people and of other social groups.

Debts that are also expressed, in the large number of homeless people - men, women and children, in the discrimination of migrants, in the inadequate health and education services, in the precarious public services and in the abuse and use of the earth.

Debts that are revealed, in the denial of the full right to be a citizen, discrimination of those who are mentally or physically ill, lack of care for the old and ill, lack of care for young children, adolescents and youth who live on the streets, discrimination of women, indigenous, black people, gypsies and other ethnic minorities. Debts that strengthen daily violence, injustices, corruption, made visible in the lack of real democracy, in the distortions of truth transmitted by means of mass communication and in the destruction of individual and collective values.

The creditors of the social debts are the majority of the Brazilian people. We do not need to mention here, to indicate how many are without land, unemployed, those without citizenship... The existence of one child abandoned already causes us indignation and that child forces us to fight against the political policies that exclude and dominate Brazilian society, the world champion of social inequalities.


The social debts have deep roots, they go as far back as the arrival of the European settler more than five hundred years ago, to centuries of slavery, to the removal of our wealth to other countries, of slow and restricted democratizing, of partial justice, of continuous inequality, the subordination of the State to the national and international private interests and of an economic development that generates and reproduces structural inequality.

The neoliberal model, implemented in Brazil starting in 1990, reinforced the unequal structures that exist in Brazilian society today. We live under the so-called laws of the marketing, of individualism, of competition and consumerism. The idolatry of capitalism suffocates the values of equality, of solidarity, of national sovereignty and participative democracy.

The great capitalists demand subordination of society imposing privatization of state, commercial opening without neither safeguards nor compensations and dismantling of the public services. Society worsens with unemployment, violence and crisis of values. The solutions are few. Our poverty is not due to the lack of resources: its causes are political and the structures used. It is necessary to build a new society guided by values and structures capable of promoting an equal distribution of wealth, of income, of caring for the earth, of power and knowledge, creating opportunities so that all Brazilians can live with justice, dignity and happiness.

This new society is already being built by the popular movements and dedicated citizens, who struggle and fight daily against oppression. The new society is visible in the fights for the care of the earth, for clean water, sanitation, land for the landless, in the battle for social rights and public services, in the defense of the defenseless, in the initiatives of alternative production, in all who in different ways try to live true democracy in solidarity with one another.


We call the Brazilian people and the churches to live up to the ideals of biblical Jubilee. Jubilee consists of the ransom of the social debt, creating again the conditions of equality and of freedom in the life of the people; which sums up the Christian message that love, justice and communion characterize human relationships.

We invited the whole Brazilian people, to assume with us the following commitments:

Jubilee consists of the ransom of the social debts, creating again the conditions of equality and of freedom in the life of the people.

1. For life: we denounce neoliberalism and everything that attempts to destroy the dignity of the human person in all its dimensions; the dignity of the human person in all its dimensions;

2. For truth: we will fight for democracy and the right to be informed. We denounce radios and TVs that manipulate and misinform the public, which is controlled by a communications monopoly;

3. For the organization and the mobilization of people: we will fight for the rights of the indigenous people and the survivors of the Quilombos, for agrarian reform, for decent housing and for the homeless, for health, for education, for justice, for the Indigenous, for human right's and any kind of description and intolerance. We are a voice for the voiceless, for the oppressed and excluded in society;

For true democracy: we want the State to be an instrument of society for society. We will fight for political reform that guarantees full citizenship to all, against unequal representation in decision making and against corruption that promotes economic power;

5. For a new society: we will work for the installation of a new economic order, political, social and cultural, that breaks dependence on external capital, that affirms the national sovereignty, that guarantees life and safety for our people and our youth's future. That defines budget limits for the payment of the foreign debts that are compatible the ransom of social and ecological debts;

6. For education: we will fight for a public educational system that it guarantees all Brazilians a quality education, based in the values of justice and solidarity. We support the initiatives of popular education in the country and in the city;

7. For the right to work: we will fight for stable employment and for worthy wages. We will stimulate initiatives that generate work and income for the workers and their families;

8. For the International Campaign Jubilee 2000 : we support the campaign that asks for the cancellation of unjust foreign debt. We request an audit of the external debt, and try to identify the illegitimate and unjust debt that should be canceled:

9. For the establishment of a new international order: we will fight for financial globalization and our exclusion will substitute by global and ecological solidarity.

We hope that this Letter will be read in every home, in every square, in every meeting, in every church. And that its words become a reality in the daily lives of every one of us, reinforcing our hope and our dream of justice and solidarity in the construction of a democratic society.