Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development

Comité catholique contre la faim et pour le développement - Comments

5) The links with politics

-In his book on the Catholic Church’s money, Roland Gaucher, a journalist at Minute and a National Front militant, calls the CCFD “Red Relief”. Another author, Michel Algrin, laments the bias of an organisation which, during the cold war, defended human rights in pro-American countries only (South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Morocco, El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay, Porto Rico, Uruguay, Israel/Palestine, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Turkey) and not in allegedly progressive countries (Poland, Hungary, Russia, Vietnam, Nicaragua), as though they had nothing to be blamed for. In fact, the CCFD did help the Polish after the 1981 coup, or the Afghans invaded by the Red army in 1980, or the Ethiopian victims of the Marxist junta in power in Addis-Ababa after 1974. But the amounts dedicated to the Polish or the Afghans cannot be compared with the efforts directed at the victims of right-wing dictatorships in Latin America.
-Regarding ideology, one can wonder whether the CCFD has changed since it favoured liberation struggles. From South Korea to Argentina, in the 1990s, it has kept assisting progressive circles and trade unions, as in Paraguay with the CDE (Centro de Documentación y Educación), an organisation that supplies statistics for the defence of workers in negotiations with the employers or with the government. On the other hand, the end of the cold war probably drove the CCFD into reviewing the political orientation of its activities. Marc Berger, the head of the Projects and Programmes Department in the organisation, explained in a book edited by Denis Rolland that, confronted with more democratic regimes in Latin America, the social movements the CCFD backs are less focused on a policy of opposition to the governmental authorities; now, it is about supporting their efforts of “civic training to teach how to vote, how to take part in drafting a Constitution, or how to lobby”.