Bolivian President Evo Morales is greeted by Pope Francis at a gathering held at the Vatican on October 28, 2014. (Photo: Bolivian Government Palace Press)
Pope Francis and President Morales coincide on need to defend rights of the marginalized.
Bolivian President traveled to the Vatican today to participate in the first International Gathering of Popular Movements. The gathering was organized by the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace and brings together 200 representatives from popular organizations and movements from throughout the world.
President Morales attended the gathering in his capacity as an Indigenous person and leader and centered his remarks on the need to defend Mother Earth. In his speech Morales said “We cannot allow the capitalist system to turn the land into a mere system,” adding that the planet can survive without humans but we cannot survive without the planet. The Bolivian President also said that the concentration of land is in the hands of the few and that this “is the source of all social injustices.”
Pope Francis opened the gathering and called for land and work for the poor and the marginalized in his remarks, adding “We want your voices to be heard that in general go unheard… perhaps because people are afraid of the change you demand.” The pope emphasized the right to housing, in particular, saying “We live in cities where towers, shopping malls are built, where they make business in real estate but they abandon those on the margins, on the peripheries. It hurts to hear that they marginalize the poor settlements or worse still, want to eliminate them.”
Pope Francis also celebrated the movement of the popular masses, saying “Then you can really feel the winds of change that invigorates the idea of a better world.” Morales affirmed the Pope’s statements and called for land, work, and housing to be recognized as human rights.