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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

How do the faithful, poor and non-poor alike, live their everyday faith in the context of poverty, violence, and oppression? How have different sectors of church leadership understood and responded to poverty and violence? How have acts of the faithful pressured members of the church leadership to respond? The chapter explores violence in contemporary Latin America and the Church’s involvement in politics to resist such violence. It focuses on Mexico and its borders, sites that are closely connected to both Central America and the United States because of migrants crossing the region, transnational activism, and political and economic policies of the US and Mexican governments to limit migration. It begins with an overview of the ways that religious actors, especially the Catholic Church, conceptualized political and structural violence in the 1960s and 1970s and supported concrete projects to challenge root causes of poverty. The following section addresses the church’s response to unequal distribution of land and wealth and the violence of civil wars in the region. The subsequent sections address the faith-based work in support of Central American and Mexican refugees and migrants at the US-Mexico border and in Mexico, respectively, beginning in the 1990s. In contrast to the work of earlier decades, individuals, shelters, and organizations support migrant populations in transit with limited support from institutional churches. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the changing forms of violence in Mexico and Central America, as well as the changing response to this violence by religious actors.

Keywords: violence, human rights, migration, US-Mexico border, Central America, refugee

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