Two personalities, irreplaceable for our work in Latin America, leave us.

Manuel Maquieira SJ, a fighter committed to the Guatemalan youth
 

On October 8, Father Manuel Maquieira died in Guatemala. This Jesuit from Galicia, philosopher and teacher, started his work with the most deprived, very young. In 1983, after ten years of work with a youth community in Jove, Galicia, he is ordained and travels to Honduras. There, he takes charge of the Tocoa Parish and he starts to support cooperatives, organizes communities and takes a strong stand with the authorities at a time of militarism and violation of human rights. His intensive social activity and reconstruction work in several areas of Honduras is always marked by cardiac complications and he has to undergo heart surgery.

In 1996 he is transferred to San Antonio Parish in Guatemala. He then begins his commitment with the people of Puente Belice working with youth violence. The Puente Belice community is situated in the marginal areas of the capital with inland immigrant families. They usually lack opportunities to improve their life quality and to overcome permanent poverty. The main inhabitants are young, growing in the streets, with no discipline or self esteem. They very rarely find work and when they do, it is ill paid. The majority of them end up joining the "maras" or violent youth gangs that become the only alternative for them.

 

Puente Belice Project
 

While looking for alternatives, Maquieira spends seven years not knowing well what to do in addition to sharing, suffering, loving, crying, laughing, and living in the midst and with this youth. It is not only until 2002 when he decides to carry out the job- education programme that today is known as Puente Belice Project. The goal of this project is to work with young people from 15 to 24 years old who are at risk of suffering violence from the "maras" or themselves causing violence by joining these groups, offering as pillars, education and paid work.

Maquieria´s work regarding the eradication of the "maras" has been impressive. His effort was not only recognized by Entreculturas but also by the Society of Jesus and Guatemalan private and public institutions. From Entreculturas we suffer the loss of this fighter, committed to the human rights of the most deprived and we continue to support the Puente Belice project so that Maquieira´s work may not have been in vain.

 

 

Father Rendueles, defending the native communities in Peru
 

On September 28, Father Manuel García Rendueles, coordinator of the Villa Gonzalo Mission in Rio Santiago, died. Father Rendueles, known as Father Manolo, was born in Gijón, Asturias, in 1946. Attracted by the jungle and its inhabitants since he was very young, he was moved by the missionaries of those lands. After studying Humanities and Philosophy he studied Theology between Madrid, Lima and Mexico and before going back to the jungle he studied Anthropology at the Catholic University in Peru. He was ordained as a priest in 1979 and took his final vows with the Society of Jesus in 1985.

Father Manolo's work in Peru was to be in charge of the Society of Jesus Villa Gonzalo Mission. The mission was founded in 1965 as a petition from the San Francisco Javier Vicariate and since then and thanks to many supporters, among them Entreculturas helping with school and farm constructions, many projects have been carried out. Father Rendueles, in addition to his pastoral work as a priest, took care of the native communities in the Rio Santiago area. Together with the rest of the missionaries he worked with problems regarding infant health, hunger, lack of education opportunities and ethnic disputes.