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Methodist activist joins cabinet of new government in Bolivia

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File photo by John C. Goodwin

Casimira Rodriguez Romero speaks at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries in 2005.
Jan. 25, 2006

By United Methodist News Service

The recipient of the 2003 World Methodist Peace Award has been named minister of justice for the new government of Bolivia.

Casimira Rodriguez Romero has become part of the cabinet of President Evo Morales, who was inaugurated Jan. 22 in La Paz. She attends Emmanuel Methodist Church in Cochabamba.

Rodriguez is chief executive of the National Federation of Household Workers, a union that successfully lobbied the Bolivian Parliament to pass the Household Workers Law in 2003. Since 2001, she also has headed the Confederation of Household Workers of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Even as a teenager, she was an active advocate of workers’ rights. The union struggled for 12 years to get the Household Workers Law passed. Of the 132,000 household workers in Bolivia, 99 percent are women.

Morales, an Aymara Indian, is leading the first indigenous administration in Bolivia’s history. His cabinet also includes David Choquehuanca Cespedes, an Aymara named as foreign minister. Rodriguez is a Quechua Indian.

The Rev. Gustavo Loza, a Methodist pastor and mentor to Rodriguez, wrote about the optimism that has resulted from the election of Morales in a reflection titled, “Winds of Hope Among the Bolivian People.”

He noted that past governments have spoken about hope “while they continued to fill their coffers with the suffering and pain of this people, and the sale of natural resources, a blessing of God, changing hope into desperation.

“Today we feel very differently because this wind of hope blows with vigor, surging through our bodies, spirits and our communities. We want to say that we feel so very good.

“This hope is being manifested in our lives in a passion for achieving what we now believe is possible, because we believe in the God of promise who renews our lives through a living hope,” he wrote.

Rodriguez is scheduled to speak May 6 during the May 4-7 United Methodist Women’s Assembly in Anaheim, Calif.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

2005 Interview with Casimira Romero

"It's been like going up a mountain."

"Social justice and the gospel have to go together."

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Resources

Global Connections: Bolivia

Bolivia Mission Projects

CIA Factbook: Bolivia