(Crux) As Argentina marks the 200th anniversary of its independence on Saturday, Pope Francis has issued a ringing appeal to his countrymen never to â€œsell off the motherlandâ€ and to resist â€œcolonizations of any kind.â€
The pontiffâ€™s comments came in a letter to the president of Argentinaâ€™s bishopsâ€™ conference, released by the Vatican on Friday.
In the immediate wake of the letter, many observers interpreted it as another sign of tension between the Argentine pope and the countryâ€™s new center-right government under President Mauricio Macri, whose free market policies have been criticized for opening the door to foreign investors to exploit Argentinaâ€™s markets and resources.
In truth, however, those who have followed the evolution of Pope Francisâ€™ thinking over the last several decades will probably conclude that the letter should be set against a much broader context – specifically, the pontiffâ€™s vision of Latin America as a Patria Grande, a united regional bloc able to stand on its own two legs without being beholden to major global powers or commercial interests.
Drawn from the thinking of 19th century founders of modern Latin America, such as SimÃ³n BolÃvar and JosÃ© de San MartÃn, the term today generally refers to the press for tighter economic and political unity across the continent. [More]