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Sisters of Mercy among Faith Leaders Participating in “Reverse Caravan” Pilgrimage to Explore Root Causes of Migration in Honduras

March 18, 2019

A delegation of nearly 75 faith leaders and social justice advocates, including seven Sisters of Mercy from the United States, Argentina and Peru, is traveling to Honduras March 18-25 to meet with grassroots and religious partners in order to more deeply understand the root causes of migration.

After arriving in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on March 18, the delegation will meet with partners in human rights organizations, visit groups advocating for the rights of migrants and explore factors that are forcing migrants to flee, including endemic violence, government repression and environmental degradation. Groups from the delegation will witness the destructive effects of extractive mining and hydroelectric projects, and also learn firsthand about human rights violations and abuses in the city of San Pedro Sula.

“Honduras has become a furnace of violence,” said Jean Stokan, Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy, and a delegation organizer. “The military coup in 2009 opened the door to corruption, organized crime and drug cartels, a situation made even worse by a presidential election in November 2017—widely considered fraudulent and unconstitutional—that was followed by government repression.”

The date of the delegation visit will coincide with the 39th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Oscar Romero, who was assassinated on Mar. 24, 1980 for defending the poor and speaking out against repression by government forces in El Salvador. The delegation will commemorate the anniversary with a theological forum on the teachings of the slain Archbishop of San Salvador, and how to apply these teachings in Honduras today.

As the delegation learns more about the problems plaguing everyday Hondurans, they hope to bring attention to the dire circumstances that are leading migrants to risk the 1,700 mile trek from Central America to the U.S. border.

“It is a privilege to participate in a delegation that observes, listens and comes to a deeper understanding of root causes of immigration,” said Sister Kathleen Erickson, RSM, a member of the delegation. “We will be able to see the beauty and strength of the people of Honduras, and also come to greater awareness of the connection between U.S. policies and their effects on the lives of people in impoverished countries.”

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