The Jesuit Migrant Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (RJM-LAC) reaffirms in Bogota its mission to be the touchstone of the Society of Jesus concerning the importance of migration in this region of the world, actively responding to the challenges of accompaniment, protection and promotion of migrants. These challenges are in constant change and growth both in volume and complexity.

After 3 years of intense work, Father Mauricio García-Durán SJ has handed over the leadership of the network to Javier Cortegoso Lobato.

On November 19th and 20th, 2018, the General Meeting of the Jesuit Migrant Network for Latin America and the Caribbean was held in the city of Bogota, Colombia. The meeting brought together the administrations of the four sub-regions and their representatives. The president of the Conference of Jesuit Provincials of Latin America and the Caribbean (CPAL), P. Roberto Jaramillo S.J., the delegate of the Pastoral Social Networks, P. Rafael Moreno S.J., as well as ALBOAN and Entreculturas, which are the key allies for the network from Spain, were also present.

During these days, the outlook of the contexts of forced migration in the different regions of the continent was shared, analyzing the causes that force people to migrate, the risks they face during the journey and the challenges that attention and integration pose once they reach their destinations. "Latin America is a continent on the move and on the run, where there is a need for action to face this reality of massive migrations, collective migrations: migrations that are closely linked to international protection needs. This also means that we must do more things, with more people, in order to protect the ones that are forced to flee", recalls Karla Rivas from Honduras, who collaborates in the Central and North American Subregion (RJM-CANA), in the video presentation of the Network and the "Share the Journey" Campaign.

Forced migration in Central America to Mexico, the United States or Costa Rica, the exodus of people from Venezuela to different parts of the continent to the South as well as to the North, the continuity of the flow of people from Haiti to Brazil and Chile mainly, the forced displacement in Colombia that does not stop… All of them are realities that require the daily action of the different organizations, institutions and people who are part of the Jesuit Migrant Network, and that invite us to continue collaborating with more and more people throughout the continent. The relevance of the risk of invisibility of other continental and extra-continental migratory flows that are at risk of falling into oblivion was also pointed out. Migration is above all a personal history, and any personal history has rights that must be protected and demanded. 

The meeting was also an opportunity to acknowledge the current situation of the network, to value the contribution that it is now making and to picture the actions that the reality of migration will demand for the coming years. Roberto Jaramillo S.J., president of CPAL, encouraged us to continue getting involved in such a way that we can respond effectively to these important challenges; we also had the valuable participation of Rafael Moreno, S.J. who from CPAL and from his active participation in the Jesuit Migrant Network is a constant light that helps us walk together with migrants, displaced persons and refugees.

During this meeting Mauricio García Durán, S.J. was thanked for his service of coordination provided to the RJM-LAC during the last three years and for having been able to continue to consolidate such a diverse response in this part of the world. Mauricio will continue his important work as the head of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the LAC Region and in Colombia and will also coordinate the Andean region within the RJM.

From this meeting on, Javier Cortegoso Lobato will assume the coordination of the RJM-LAC. Javier is linked to the educational and social work of the Society of Jesus in Latin America and the Caribbean for 17 years, and has collaborated with the Jesuit Migrant Network from various missions that he has carried out. Based on the invitation of the involvement proposed by CPAL, the new coordinator proposed an exercise of "Renewal" and affirmed that with involvement we mean: commit oneself to Identity and Mission, and to understand that the importance is not in the nodes, nor in what each one of us can contribute or receive from the network. The network is the relationships that are generated, the threads that we weave from hand to hand; it is the connection itself as a possibility and responsibility of greater transformation and Justice".

"The final invitation proposed by Mauricio García Durán, S.J. was "To incarnate in our own reality, which means that of Welcoming, Protecting, Promoting and Integrating the migrant, refugee and displaced population".

[This article was originally published in Spanish on CPAL's website.]