Cricket Program in Argentina Fights Poverty
According to the Associated Press (AP), children who live in Villa 21-24, a dangerous slum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, are playing cricket in order to avoid a life of crime and poverty.
The Caacupe community center introduced the sport to the slum in 2009 to “integrate children to a game that traditionally was reserved for Argentina’s upscale private schools”.
Moreover, the AP said that Pope Francis, who is also known as the “slum pope”, was one of the founders of Caacupe and remains connected with its programs.
The community center is praised because children are given the opportunity to do something positive instead of giving into a lifestyle of drugs, crime and frustration.
Although the community center’s aim to help children out of poverty is benevolent, a closer examination is needed regarding Pope Francis and his role in Argentina while serving as a Bishop during the reign of a brutal military regime.
Vincent Navarro, who teaches Public Policy at Johns Hopkins University, is critical of Pope Francis despite some of his good intentions. This is primarily due to his silence during the Argentinean dictatorship in the 70’s and 80’s.
“The dictatorship, established in defense of the more privileged groups in Argentina, was especially brutal to any dissident and opponents of its reign,” Navarro said. “This silence reflected a lack of sensitivity to gross human rights violations carried out by dictatorships with close ties to the Catholic Church.”
Navarro said that the pope claimed that his silence should be excused since it was “a tactical and honest move”. Navarro also gives him credit for encouraging the Church to expand its involvement in fighting poverty and for indicating that poverty is the result of the exploitation under the capitalist system in return for profits.
However, a recent service that honored the fallen members of the Church who sided with the fascist military regime in Spain in the 30’s is another reason Navarro criticizes the Pope and the Catholic establishment.
“It is safe to assume that Pope Francis knows very well that the Catholic Church supported this military coup and dictatorship of General Franco, as evidence of this abounds,” Navarro asserted. “The Catholic Church was one of the major landowners in Spain and opposed the land reform initiated by the democratically elected Republican government.”
Although Pope Francis was one of the founders of the community center that is helping Argentinean children escape poverty today, the Counterpunch article written by Navarro uses historical examples to criticize his refusal to confront the repression of the military regime in the past.
– Juan Campos