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The Western media did not say everything about the recent visit of Pope Francis in South America. The presence of the Head of the Church, in fact, beyond the official meetings and words of welcome, actually highlighted the huge gap sometimes existing between the equity sought by people and the actual opportunity to express their own opinion.

Francis strongly emphasized the failure of a system based on profit: “The future of humanity is in the hands of the most humble ones – he said – in their ability to organize and in the collective research for ground, house and work (the three Ts in Spanish: Tierra, Techo, Trabajo)”. At the same time, he strongly claimed: “And Jesus turns once again to speak to us and says ‘There is no need to exclude them, you can give them something to eat. No more waste!”. He did it for example in Bolivia, during the meeting in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, asking the popular movements made by artisans, peasants, workers and indigenous people to “fight against the system that imposes profits at any cost.”

Words underlined by the applause of the crowd and the smiles of the authorities. But this speech that highlights the challenges of the social struggle movements, actually is not particularly pleasing for those in power. Certain themes, the less you face them, the better it is. We saw how some possible expressions of dissent were censured. In occasion of the arrival in Paraguay, for example, it was forbidden to exhibit banners concercing unwelcome themes: no references to landless peasants, no chance to point out the social struggles. Even the abortion debate – both by the groups in favor of it and by those against – was not allowed. Freedom of thought? Opportunity to highlight the great problems of the South American society? Not at all. The order was to be quiet. A slap to those who share the ideas of the Pope regarding the change of culture and mentality, the need for dialogue.

The authorities’ attitude is then far away from the exhortations of Bergoglio, when he says: “We want a real change, a change of structures, of this system that seeks profit at any cost and what I call ‘the dung of the devil’; we cannot take it anymore, nor workers nor peasants nor Mother Earth”. Essentially, it means to change lifestyle, and it is a task assigned primarily to governments.

Anyway, the dissidents are still trying to make their voice be heard: peasants, workers and students have announced demonstrations to coincide with the visit. But they will be relegated away from the path of the Holy Father, so also from cameras and visibility. If the Western media will not notice them, it will remain just a silent scream.

Just one concession: an official meeting with some selected organizations, in the second day of stay in Paraguay. The event, the real one, can wait.

Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo

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