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1/6/2016

Francis is the Pope for everyone, not only for Argentine people

Gerardo Martinez, in an interview with the Vatican Insider spoke of the relationship of Catholic leader with unions, trade unionism unity in his country and his relationship with President Mauricio Macri.

  • Francis is the Pope for everyone, not only for Argentine people

"Argentines cannot be so irresponsible of trying to use the Pope’s speech to take advantage of any kind", said Gerardo Martínez

What does it mean for the Argentine trade union movement having a Pope from the country who speaks about terms such as "dignity of work" or "social inclusion"?
It is a great pleasure since he shares with the trade union movement the same values and common objectives, which are linked to the concepts that the Argentine trade union leadership has always represented and defended. The dignity of labour and social inclusion are not only two of the flags that the Argentine labor movement professes and claims, but it also part of core of the so-called Social Doctrine of the Church, which Argentine unions earnestly adhere.

What is the relationship that keeps the Argentine Trade Unions with him, now that he became a Pope?
There are some differences in terms of form which are logical and have to do with formal and institutional aspects that his current endowment requires. However, in the personal treatment with those Union leaders who had the opportunity to share some meetings with him, having already become a Pope, he showed us the same humility, warmth, social sensitivity and political insight he always had.
The Pope has place much emphasis on encouraging and promoting social movements, most of them organized outside the traditional trade unions. Can that be criticism to the historical trade unionism or a confirmation to their limits?
I don't think so. Pope Francis promotes agreement and consensus among those sectors which  either from the trade union movement, social organizations or political positions, share as a common goal the defence of social justice, inclusion, the culture of work, equal opportunities, access for all social sectors to decent levels of quality of life. Under these common premises, regardless ideological or methodological positions, he respects and recognizes those who work and strive for common goals: eradication of poverty or globalization of social justice. 
 Pope Francis is constantly calling those who have social responsibilities to dialogue and cooperation. Couldn’t be his message a chance to overcome the divisions of Argentine Trade Unions?
Certainly it is. And that is how most of trade unionists understand so. In fact, from Argentine General Confederation of Labour CGT RA, we are currently carrying out a process of Trade Union Unity which enjoys wide support. On the recent Labor Day, all sectors with trade union representation in the country agreed in a joint event. That was an unprecedented and historical fact, something that shows that, beyond logical differences that may exist, the defence of workers’ rights unifies and promotes a threshold of strategic consensus that are above the contextual differences that may exist.
 
In a meeting that several Argentine trade unionists, had with the Pope back in 2013, Francis asked "responsibility of achieving peace" in the country. Do you still feel that call as a current call? 
It is true and holds absolute validity. Argentine society is paving a path towards peace, understood as the exercise of consensus and dissension of any kind, under the premise of respect for each other and their ideas. We have matured as a society, and leaders, those who have that responsibility, as well. From the trade union management we encourage, for example, the creation of a Council for Economic and Social Development, where the Government, Business and Trade Union representatives take part. Which should be the main objective? The commissioning of a tripartite space for debate where the needs of each sector be considered and argued to reach political consensus aimed at the common good. That would be a great step to ensure social peace, for example.
The economic and social situation in Argentina is not going through a good period. You have reported layoffs and it seems discomfort is growing in several sectors, do you think that the Pope envisaged that situation when he had that detached audience with President Mauricio Macri?
Truly I don't know and, out of respect for the investiture of the Pope and Mr. President Macri, it would be an inappropriate encroachment to comment in this regard. What is absolutely certain is that Pope Francis is very sensitive to workers situation and the most vulnerable sectors of society, both in Argentina and around the world. Nowadays, Argentina undergoes a situation of political and economic transition that is strongly affecting the middle and lower classes. That's why, from my point of view, we are calling on the current Government to ensure a fair transition: looking after employment, the purchasing power of salaries and quality of life.
Where could the country's situation move towards? Could their concerns reach the Vatican or it is better to "leave Pope Francis alone" as some people suggest?
The Pope has shown his interest and concern about the political and social situation of Argentina with the present and the previous Government. That does not mean that his attitude is intrusive and, by no means, he enables the political use of what he represents by any sector in my country. We have to be responsible and understand that Pope Francis has international relevance and the depth of his message is not only for Argentina, but for all around the world. Argentines cannot be so irresponsible of trying to use his speech to take advantage of any kind. Pope Francis should be considered for the huge transformation that is carrying out in the Catholic Church worldwide, achievements such as a rapprochement between the United States and Cuba, for his work in defense of the exiles in Europe, his intervention in the Middle East conflict, his strong belief to fight drug trafficking. Francis is the Pope for everyone, not only for Argentine people, although we are so proud for his representativeness.

ANDRÉS BELTRAMO ÁLVAREZ
VATICAN CITY

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