Leaders from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, met in the Mariapolis Retreat House, where they released a document, the Puembo Statement, in which, among others subjects, they treated the contemporary crisis and its destructive role; the value of faith in facing the crisis; persons with disabilities and the harmful effect of the contemporary crisis in the development of their potential; the "globalization of solidarity" as a determinant factor; and reasons for hope.
The document declared, "Having, therefore, reflected on these questions, we have concluded that the situation of social exclusion that affects young people with disabilities in our continent constitutes a true expression of the crisis in which the world finds itself immersed today."
"The excessive technological advance carried out by human beings, instead of guaranteeing a worthy and fuller life for all the inhabitants of the Planet, has driven a progressive deterioration of natural resources. The gap, ever more insurmountable between the rich countries and the nations of the underdeveloped world, has provoked, among others, negative consequences and a growing exodus of Latin American young people toward those countries. The economic crisis that affects the peoples of Latin America, concomitant with the crisis in traditional values, as well induces many young people to take refuge in drugs."
"The indifferent and escapist positions that the churches generally adopt with respect to the social, political and economic situation that burdens our peoples constitute a negation of the prophetic mission that they must undertake in society."
"As for the important matter of labor, indispensable as much for sustenance as for our active inclusion in society, as young people with disabilities we feel heavily the weight of discrimination and this is one of the more negative impacts of the current crisis on the employment-age population with disabilities. Though in the majority of the countries of the continent legislations and public policies exist related to the recognition and defense of the rights of people with disabilities, these are systematically broken and/or violated."
"Throughout history young people have played a crucial role as actors of social change. Particularly as young people with disabilities we perceive that the contemporary crisis is not only a problem to confront, but above all an opportunity to carry ahead the change to which we aspire."
In the second paragraph, the Puembo Statement expresses that "conscious that the crisis does not have the last word, we place our hopes in:
- The prophetic role to which the church is called, which should labor constructively in the midst of the contemporary crisis that strikes us.
- The teamwork of young people with disabilities, which promotes relationships of effective and efficient interdependence.
- The richness produced through the exchange of experiences around the needs and aspirations of young people with disabilities in Latin America.
- The leading role that corresponds to young people with disabilities in global awareness-raising for a sustainable development in Latin American society.”
The text concludes, "In times such as the one that has touched us, the vision of John of Patmos inspires us: ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth’ (Revelation 21:1). As Latin American Christian young people with disabilities meeting in this Consultation, we feel challenged and committed to work for the renewing and restorative emergence of the Kingdom of God in our complex contemporary world."
Puembo, Quito, November 19, 2009
Translation: Chris Morck
Photo: Special Abilities Gathering, Puembo, Ecuador (Noel ALC)