When Pere Casaldàliga came to São Félix do Araguaia (Mato Grosso, Brasil) in 1968 he had a feeling that he had finally managed to achieve his dream: to be a missionary. But his life as a priest in the repressive environment of Franco’s Spain did not prepare him for what he found in Mato Grosso and the definitive change that the environment and inhabitants would work on him.
Over the next forty years, Casaldàliga would receive death threats, become committed to liberationist theology and face down a military dictatorship, powerful local figures and the Vatican. But who were the people pursuing him? Why did they try to kill him so often? Why did he never return to Spain? And, most importantly, how did a religious figure become such an effective weapon against power?
“Casaldàliga is coherent and that is why he’s radical. He says what he thinks and lives the way he says one should live. Only through coherence and radicalism can one win the respect and admiration of the rural people, peasants and indigenous peoples of Araguaia. People from the region admire him because he made a clear and uncomplicated choice: to put down roots in a wild, neglected region. This is the main reason that I have come to visit Pere Casaldàliga several times after publishing the book and also what drove me to write it. I decided it the moment that I found out why the earth is red there and what it means to walk barefoot upon it.”
A fascinating insight into the personality and methods of an iconic character