So far, research by pro-life groups had not turned up any dubious Development and Peace partners in Colombia. Until now.
Enter the Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (CRIC), which means Cauca Regional Aboriginal Council. According to their website, they are an Aboriginal-rights advocacy group representing more than 90% of Aboriginal communities in the Department (province) of Cauca, which is located in the southwest corner of Colombia. They’re also a Development and Peace partner, as can be seen on page 111 of D&P’s Latin American Program. While they do some good work in promoting respect for Aboriginal peoples, they espouse some positions that are clearly not aligned with Catholic teaching.
CRIC represents the 47th D&P partner that has been found to deviate from core Church teaching. Let’s look at the evidence on CRIC.
Project pushing condoms and “sexual and reproductive rights”
A few years ago, CRIC commissioned a joint study with USAIDS called Reducing the risk of HIV/AIDS in Aboriginal communities of Cauca. Unfortunately, the study is only available in Spanish. The main purpose of the study was to learn about sexual practices of Aboriginal communities and to sensitize them to the need of protecting themselves from disease. The study was conducted mainly through workshops with Aboriginals, which were led by members of CRIC staff and some researchers. Two key themes for the workshops were:
- The importance for Aboriginals to use condoms.
- For women, special emphasis was placed on their “sexual and reproductive rights“, which is a typical code phrase for contraception and abortion rights. This phrase was used in conjunction with the expression “women’s rights”, which is also typical.
In order to desensitize Aboriginals to their natural aversion to condoms, CRIC and the researchers employed a number of strategies including a game called “hand me the condom” (alcance el condón), although the nature of the game isn’t described. They also offered workshops on “developing abilities on adequate and consistent usage of condoms”.
They never taught the Aboriginals about abstinence or marital fidelity as the fool-proof solutions advocated by the Catholic Church to avoid disease and unplanned pregnancies.
Strategizing with feminist militants to advance abortion rights
There exists a very militant pro-choice feminist group in Latin America called Campaña por la Convención Interamericana de Derechos sexuales y Derechos Reproductivos, which means Campaign for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual and Reproductive Rights. The Campaign’s purpose is very explicitly defined in a Proposal posted on their website, which is essentially their official manifest. They state:
Women of all ages have the right to exercise safe and voluntary maternity. Thus, they have the right to voluntarily interrupt their pregnancies, without putting their lives or health in risk as a result. (Source)
In plain English, that means access to abortion on demand. The Campaign also advocates for contraception and reproductive technologies for all, including homosexual couples:
All persons have the right to access to secure, effective, acceptable and accessible methods of controlling fertility, as well as to reproductive technologies and treatments. This right includes the dissemination, availability and provision of high quality birth control and/or reproductive methods that are appropriate to diverse needs, gender identities and sexual orientations. (Source)
Their Proposal is almost exclusively concerned with reproductive rights, which is not surprising given the name of the Campaign. Moreover, the Proposal explains that the State is responsible for providing these services, meaning that the Campaign is engaging in political lobbying for abortion and contraception.
So how does this concern CRIC? In 2007, the Campaign organized a three-day meeting between themselves and several Aboriginal-rights groups with the explicit goal of opening a dialogue to exchange ideas and work together towards the elaboration of the pro-choice Proposal described above. At that time, as is explained in the letter of invitation for this meeting (see page 15 of the minutes), the Proposal had not yet been written and the Campaign was consulting with various “social movements” in order to establish a consensus. The invitation letter makes it absolutely clear that the Campaign’s goal is to ensure legal guarantees for the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights and that the meeting was being organized to make progress towards this end.
Sadly, CRIC sent a representative to this anti-life strategy meeting named Nancy Ruth Bravo Chantre, as is shown on page 19 of the minutes. She is clearly identified as a representative of CRIC. The email addresses, phone number and fax number listed for Ms. Chantre are those of the CRIC office. The caption also provides a brief description of CRIC’s mandate and the type of activities they engage in.
Why would CRIC participate in a three-day strategy meeting on advancing abortion and contraception unless they support these goals?
Abortion is still largely illegal in Colombia, being permitted only in some circumstances such as rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. But how long can they hold off the pro-abort forces being funded by rich Western nations and the Canadian bishops’ official development and aid agency?