- Nov 23, 2020
In a statement from the Pan-Amazonian Church Network (REPAM) responding to reports of a possible massacre, Church leaders called for authorities in Brazil to “quickly clarify the circumstances in which this act of profound violence allegedly occurred and implement immediate measures to protect the life and territory of the indigenous peoples of Vale do Javari.”
Since Brazilian President Michel Temer took office August 31, he has surrounded himself with ministers with strong links to the cattle ranchers and soy farmers, who oppose steps taken by previous governments to implement demarcation of indigenous lands. On July 13, the U.S.-based nongovernmental organization Global Witness released a report citing Brazil as the country with the highest number of murders of environmental and land defenders in 2016.
The indigenous communities of Awajun and Wampis in Peru finally won the legal battle to be consulted about oil drilling on their land, a right supported by Catholic Church leaders. Zebelio Kayap Jempekit, an Awajun leader who is a plaintiff in the case, said that this ruling shows that lives and health are more important than economic gain.
The Amazon is at the center of the many ecological issues that are debated in our time, and a group of Church leaders from the region is in Washington, D.C., to try and convince policymakers to do more to protect the region.
Quoting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Pope Francis told representatives from indigenous groups that they have the right to give prior consent to any economic activity affecting their ancestral land.