December 4, 2019, Seibo, Dominican Republic – The plight of displaced farmers from Seibo, in the western part of the Dominican Republic, has drawn the solidarity and advocacy of Dominican Sisters and Friars from both the Dominican Republic and the United States.
About three years ago, the farmers were displaced from their homes and land with the arrival of a sugar corporation. “Every day the media brought news of the mistreatments [the farmers] had suffered at the hands of the landowner, who with his economic power and influence had evicted them from, and destroyed their plantations,” said Adrian Dominican Sister Luisa Campos, OP, a native of the Dominican Republic who ministers at Centro Antonio Montesino in Santo Domingo. She added that 12-year-old Carlos Rojas Peguero was killed during conflicts over the land.
On October 25, 2019, nearly 40 displaced farmers began a march to the capital to meet with Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina Sánchez about regaining their land. At this point, Sister Luisa said, the collaboration of the Dominican family came to the fore, led by the Dominican Missionaries of the Rosary Sisters.
“The Sisters opened their Provincial House to house the group of farmers, who were evicted during the night from a space in front of the National Palace,” Sister Luisa explained. “They had been camped [in front of the National Palace] since their arrival from Seibo in an attempt to meet with the president.”
Sister Luisa has also been working with the displaced farmers. “I have been accompanying in solidarity the farmers of Seibo – supporting them, talking with them, being aware of their needs,” she said.
In the meantime, other members of the Dominican family advocated for the farmers. Father Ricardo Guardado, OP, Dominican Justice Promoter for Latin America, sent a letter to President Medina on behalf of the International Conference of Dominicans of Latin America and the Caribbean (CIDALC), and Father Michael Deeb, OP, a Dominican at the United Nations, also wrote to President Medina.
In her letter to the president, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, noted that members of the Dominican Order are “alarmed and saddened by the confiscation of [the farmers’] lands and their displacement.” She advocated for the farmers of Seibo, as well as for those from the areas of Culebra and Vicentillo.
“As president of this beautiful country, you have the power to find a solution that returns the lands to their people and preserves the common good,” Sister Patricia wrote. “We pray that you will hear their cries and respond positively to their requests, recognizing them as the rightful owners of the disputed properties and restoring their dignity and respect.”
The advocacy appears to have had an effect. President Medina met with the farmers several times in November. Sister Luisa said that the next step is a census in Seibo of “all the people who were established on those lands and who were evicted so the property could be made available.”
Sister Luisa said the farmers who had traveled to the capital had returned to their land to be part of the census. “Those of us who are involved will be observing the process with the hope that these families can return and be able to live in peace and cultivate their land,” Sister Luisa said.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters have had a presence in the Dominican Republic since 1945 when they established Colegio Santo Domingo, a school for girls that has, since 1973, served under the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo. Currently, six Adrian Dominican Sisters and more than 20 Associates serve in the Dominican Republic in areas such as education, health care, and social justice.
Read more about the experience of the farmers of being evicted from their land and of their journey to the capital to speak to President Medina.
December 2, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement on COP25 Madrid Climate Talks, taking place December 2-13, 2019.
As the nations of the world gather in Madrid these next two weeks for the 25th year of climate talks (COP25), we Adrian Dominican Sisters invite you to join with us in prayer and voice, calling for concrete action by world leaders to safeguard our common home from catastrophic climate chaos. The aim of the COP25 climate talks is to concretize commitments and implement the historic Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.
In the last year, people around the globe have suffered the harsh impacts of just 1⁰C of warming over pre-industrial levels – with record wildfires, drought, flooding, and mega-storms. Scientists warn that we have only one decade remaining to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming to well below 2⁰C, as called for by the Paris Agreement.
Tragically, we are still headed in the wrong direction. The latest UN climate report shows that countries “have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year,” according to the New York Times.
Time is running out: We must change course now.
Join us by urging your Senators to enact the House-passed International Climate Accountability Act. It would give the White House 120 days to submit a plan to Congress to achieve our U.S. Paris Agreement goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% under 2005 levels by 2025 – and to update the plan annually.
And please join us in praying these words from the “Prayer for Our Earth” by Pope Francis:
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty…
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction…
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light. …