Racial riots in El Ejido
With a group of people I went to El Ejido, Andalusia, Spain,
to hand over a Human Rights prize of 10, 000 Swiss francs to
the Association of "Mujeres progresista" (Progressist
El Ejido region has become very wealthy with intensive farming
of fruits and vegetables in greenhouses covering 60,000 acres.
Their plastic covers spread all over the horizon. Thousands of
Africans, mostly from Morocco, are working hard there, they spend
their life under plastic cover!
During the February 2000 riot, the "Mujeres progresista"
defended them courageously, despite threats and the ransack
of their premises, they kept going their heroic action in a ambiance
of racial hatred.
This "Moor" hunt has led to the ransack of houses,
cafeterias, Morocco shops. Sixty people were wounded, hundreds
were made homeless. The whole of Spain was shocked. An International
Committee was set up and an impressive report of charges was
In the mean time, fifty immigrants started the twelfth day of
a hunger strike in the basement of the San Jose church in Almeria.
I spoke to them through a small basement window: the police prevented
me for entering. All the press was there!
Coming back to Linz was impressive for me as I was remembering
its historical past. How not to forget the Second World War?
The factories were fully active to make armaments for the Nazis,
with thousands of Italian and French forced to work there. The
Allies heavily bombed the city.
The Bishop of Linz welcomed me and offered his warm hospitality
at the Bishop's palace. He told me about the protest of conservative
Christians opposed to my visit, how they referred to the Nonce.
Courageously the Bishop stood firm.
It was a good meeting. I will remember meeting the young in the
famous Petrinum School. Fans of the Net, they showed me their
web site and the projects they have with Latin America, mostly
On a flight to Rome, some passengers asked me: "Are you
going to the bishops' Jubilee tomorrow? Our Bishop has already
arrived, some 1500 Bishops are expected to attend" They
were surprised to learn that I did not know that there was a
bishops' Jubilee this Sunday. I was going to Rome for a retreat
of the General council of the Spiritans. The Head Office of the
Spiritans on Monte Mario is a pleasant place that welcomes visitors.
I met African priests and Bishops from Madagascar. Quickly we
left Rome for the Mountains of Abruzze to be apart in a peaceful
and isolated environment.
The harmony of the landscape, the exceptional beauty of the mountains
and the spiritual character of its participants impressed me.
I gave thanks to God for these men from Nigeria, Angola, Ireland
and also from France who gave up every thing to follow
Christ. They were expressing the joy of the Gospel.
A solidarity chain
For a world day of refusal of extreme poverty, the director
of Saint Paul's school of Ajaccio, Corsica, invited me. For many
days, pupils, professors and parents are actively involved in
In the morning 400 children were making a chain from the school
door to the administrative building of the county where a small
delegation was going to be received by the head of the county
administration representing the government.
On the Napoleon square, the young were proudly distributing a
solemn statement. Then came the representatives of each grade
followed by a presentation of different organizations from Ajaccio.
Questions seemed to me more interesting than their answers. Has
extreme poverty always existed? When did it started? Will it
come to an end? Why are the rich wasting their money rather than
to give it to the poor? Before you, has there been a bishop for
the excluded persons? A problem however: the director told me
that the bishop administration and the students parents were
not pleased by my visit, but he managed to stand firm. Listening
to him, I thought that this dynamic director was having some
thing of a Napoleon character!