Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Crusaders for Justice, Human Rights

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Crusaders for Justice, Human Rights

Article excerpt

When Ambassador Robert White died in January (NCR, Jan. 30-Feb. 12), we all lost a great crusader for justice and human rights. That same issue of NCR includes a related story of the never-ending and escalating battle for those rights in Honduras, where we met White 50 years ago when he was a Foreign Service officer posted to the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

My husband and I lived in Honduras from 1963 to 1973, first as Peace Corps volunteers, later as consultants with the U.S. Agency for International Development. In the mid-1960s, White, an embassy officer, was close to our age. Gene and I were in our early 40s and were assigned as Peace Corps volunteers to the Tegucigalpa office of Las Escuelas Radiofonicas, adult education by radio.

Las Escuelas was an effort by the church and private sector to reach the campesinos, the landless farmers who were victims of injustices forced on them by continuing dictatorships and oligarchy-military oppression. It was never a secret that U.S. policies supported this system in Honduras for more than a century

White was familiar with our work and encouraged us, visiting sites and attending meetings. He also knew of the similar and cooperative efforts of the U.S. and Canadian missionary priests to improve the lives of the campesinos. At that time, Jesuit Fr. Jim Carney was one of our contacts with Las Escuelas. Maybe White and Carney knew each other; Honduras is a small country and paths cross.

We were never in a position as White was in his career to denounce the offenses he saw. …

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