Brazil Bishop Halts Hunger Strike, Vows to Keep Fighting

HNP Communications Franciscan World

CABROBO, Brazil — In late December, Bishop Luis Flavio Cappio of Brazil ended his hunger strike, but not his battle to stop diversion of the flow of the Sao Francisco River. 

The news was reported in the Dec. 23 Sacred Heart Province bulletin, which said that Bishop Cappio’s story was featured on BBC TV. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reportedly said, “There is no way the government will give in.” 

The publication also said, “His decision to call off his hunger strike came one day after he collapsed for two hours and 40 minutes and was hospitalized.” Bishop Cappio, 61, stayed 24 days on hunger strike and prayer and lost 19 pounds. 

The hunger strike termination was announced in a letter read at a Mass in the village of Sobradinho, not far from the river. The bishop did not speak, but sat on a chair by the altar at the outdoor Mass. 

He was hospitalized on the same day that Brazil’s top court overruled a lower court order, saying that construction could proceed on a plan to divert the flow of the Sao Francisco River. However, Brazil’s Supreme Court hasn’t made a final decision yet.

The Bishop has argued that the project will cause ecological harm and provide disproportionate benefits to corporate farmers and industries. 

The Brazilian government counters that the project will provide irrigation for millions of acres of parched land, bringing water to 12 million Brazilians. 

The Bishop supports an alternative project that will provide water for 44 million Brazilians, and will strengthen small farmers, for half the price of the government project.