CESE Assembly closes by joining the Direct Elections Now Campaign

CESE’s General Assembly ended on 9th June with the unanimous approval of the organization’s 2016 annual activity and financial reports. The annual assembly brought together representatives from all the churches that constitute CESE to discuss the organization’s guidelines and perspectives.

Those in attendance joined the Direct Elections Now campaign, which calls for direct general elections to be held in Brazil this year, and committed themselves to collecting signatures in their churches. The manifesto was organized by FEBrasil and the Evangelical Front for the Rule of Law. Help to publicize and share information about the Direct Elections Now campaign: (in Portuguese).

The Island of Ilha de Maré

The meeting closed with a letter of reflection outlining the churches’ and ecumenical organizations’ support and commitment to the struggles of the community on the island of Ilha de Maré, visited on 8th June. The churches participating in the assembly also committed themselves to collecting signatures for the Draft Bill by popular initiative for the recognition, protection and guarantee of Traditional Fishing Communities’ Right to Territory. Click here to sign: (in Portuguese).

See the letter below:
THE ECUMENICAL COORDINATION OF SERVICE (COORDENADORIA ECUMÊNICA DE SERVIÇO: CESE), united in assembly on 8th and 9th June, 2017, hereby declares its solidarity with the communities of Ilha de Maré, which, throughout history, have been violated by the actions and omissions of the State and by the disrespectful presence of megaprojects developed by large-scale companies to exploit national wealth.

These communities are, in their majority, remnant quilombos whose main subsistence activity is fishing and they suffer not only because of the absence of basic services, such as health, education, basic sanitation and leisure options, but also because of the impact of an economic model based on unfettered profit and which thinks that development is: the installation of industries, extraction platforms or refineries for oil and its derivatives, and ports for the flow of products, without taking heed of any social or environmental concerns.

Victims of institutional racism, not respected for their customs, their culture or their rights, the communities of Ilha de Maré also denounce the ongoing abuses by the State, through the ever-violent presence of the Brazilian Navy. Under these circumstances, women shellfish pickers and young people are always the greatest victims.

As well as dealing with the reduction in fishing, only one of the consequences of this “development”, the population in these communities is also obliged to suffer the risk of new expulsions or leaks from chemical products on a daily basis.
In these days, in which Brazilian democratic institutions are experiencing a profound crisis, caused by the actions that removed the legitimately elected government, violations have worsened, since, during the course of the coup, the rights achieved through the historical struggles of social movements have been systematically reversed.

On expressing their solidarity, the churches that constitute CESE call on all of society to mobilize and insist on answers to the demands made by the artisanal fishermen and women, as well as to the demand that bodies in the Judiciary, Legislature and Executive take on the responsibility of guaranteeing the rights of these communities and curbing aggressive capital operations, which include the proposed duplication of Aratu Port.

As a concrete undertaking, from now on, we commit ourselves to the collection of signatures for the Draft Bill by popular initiative for the recognition, protection and guarantee of Traditional Fishing Communities’ Right to Territory. Click here to sign: (in Portuguese).
Salvador, Bahia, Friday 9th June, 2017.

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