Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Unnatural Disaster

There's a superb post on Tim's El Salvador Blog about the human role in the disastrous rains and floods El Salvador has experienced this month. I don't think I've seen a better analysis of the complex ties between ecological damage and economic violence to the poor.

He quotes a fierce and superb statement by San Salvador Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez: the disaster caused by the rains demonstrated "the economic vulnerability, that is to say the poverty so many of our countrymen live immersed within, the social vulnerability, characterized by the structural injustice and the ecological vulnerability, for which the great fault lies in the wild ambition that rages against God's creation, this house of all of us which is deteriorating more each day."

I remember that in the 2008 Chapter of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, we struggled to articulate the connection between climate change and the needs of the poor. Well, here it is, in the suffering of thousands of poor people displaced by rain and floods, an unnatural disaster that hardly touches the lives of the middle and upper classes in El Salvador. As Tim says, there are no photos of flooded mansions, no videos of Land Rovers swirling in the overflowing rivers. The land is "the house of all of us," and only the rich can hide from its devastation.

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