Comunity Nova Esperança, Baré people. Cuieiras river, tributary of the Rio Negro, Amazonia, Brazil. | Photo Creative Commons Zero – CC0

By Vatican News

July 24 2020

The First Global Assembly for the Amazon closes with a Final Declaration which states that ecocide, ethnocide and terricide are worse than the Coronavirus.

The Assembly was held on July 18 and 19 and was promoted by the Coordination of indigenous organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coica), the Pan-American Social Forum (Fospa) and the Pan-American Church Network (REPAM).

The event took place virtually due to the pandemic and included several countries: Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Guyana, Venezuela, Brazil, French Guiana and Suriname.

“The struggle of the Amazonian peoples, attacked in their territories and cultures, is on the rise”, the declaration states. “The deafening cry of the jungle grows, knocked down, burned, plundered by rapist extractivism, which only obeys power and greed”.

It goes on to say, “There is a gathering of resistance within the communities of the forest, the countryside and the cities, which are getting organized against the devastation and hunger that will come after this pandemic”.

Amazonize yourselves

“Ecocide, ethnocide and terricide” are “worse than the virus”, because they carry “a colonial and capitalist system which does not understand life care”. “There is no more time”, the document continues,  “we must unite in the diversity of peoples’ knowledge and in the culture of care”. “Amazonize yourselves”, is, therefore, the invitation of the Assembly: “Now or never”. “Stronger than all the voices of death will be the cry of life emerging from the Amazon and the World”.

Church solidarity

Among the participants at the Assembly was Cardinal Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, Archbishop of Huancayo, Peru, and Vice President of REPAM, who brought “the solidarity of the Catholic Church to the original peoples of the Amazon, a living ecosystem that all humanity must take care of”.

Denouncing the greed of mining activities and the lack of respect for human life as “destructive elements of the Amazon and indigenous peoples”, the cardinal stressed that “these peoples give us a lesson in unity for the good of all, in a common action that helps us understand how diversity is an enrichment, not a threat”.

Moreover, especially “in this time of pandemic”, it is all the more necessary “to take joint action to care for life and creation”, an action to which the Amazonian peoples themselves can contribute with their “sober lifestyle that respects nature and people”. “The Amazon is no longer invisible”, concluded Cardinal Barreto. “We must act together through a global and joint project”.

Plan of action

At the end of the Assembly, three courses of action were decided: the fight against Covid-19 and its consequences on indigenous peoples; the boycotting of products stemming from multinationals and mining systems; the establishment of a mobilization group to determine specific projects in the coming months. “This Assembly”, concluded the participants, “can give a strong boost to the awareness necessary to defend a region of the world that generates oxygen for all”.