On the morning of the second day of his visit in Peru, Pope Francis travelled to Puerto Maldonado and addressed 3,500 indigenous people from Peru, Brazil and Bolivia. In a stirring speech, he seemed to denounce, without naming them explicitly, the false solutions implemented by the States with the support of the financial world in order to preserve rainforests. As a matter of fact, he hinted the outlines of the famous REDD Projects (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and REDD + (that allows polluting companies to keep on contaminating, just because they consider that the purchase of carbon credits will offset their carbon emissions without enforcing any effective forest protection mechanism).
Pope Francis therefore condemned the “movements that, under the guise of preserving the forest, hoard great expanses of woodland and negotiate with them, leading to situations of oppression for the native peoples; as a result, they lose access to the land and its natural resources”
The Pontiff also insisted on the fact that Amazonian people are constantly threatened by the “neo-extractivism and the pressure being exerted by great business interests that want to lay hands on its petroleum, gas, timber, gold and agro-industrial monoculture. […] We have to break with the historical paradigm that views Amazonia as an inexhaustible source of supplies for other countries without concern for its inhabitants.”
Never before had a Pope advocated so strenuously for the respect of indigenous people’s rights. He called upon the whole world to help preserve their cultures and knowledge and to regard them as vital partners. In a way, this is what the UN has been promoting for many years through the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, without ever implementing it: “We have to break with the historical paradigm that views Amazonia as an inexhaustible source of supplies for other countries without concern for its inhabitants. I consider it essential to begin creating institutional expressions of respect, recognition and dialogue with the native peoples, acknowledging and recovering their native cultures, languages, traditions, rights and spirituality. […] We urgently need to appreciate the essential contribution that they bring to society as a whole, and not reduce their cultures to an idealized image of a natural state, much less a kind of museum of a bygone way of life. Their cosmic vision and their wisdom, have much to teach those of us who are not part of their culture. The fact is [that] your lives cry out against a style of life that is oblivious to its own real cost. You are a living memory of the mission that God has entrusted to us all: the protection of our common home.”
Pope Francis also expressed great concern about the fate of indigenous people living in voluntary isolation. He engaged the audience thereupon: “Continue to defend these most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. Their presence reminds us that we cannot use goods meant for all as consumerist greed dictates.”
Addressing the present bishops, he called for the shaping of “a Church with an Amazonian face, a Church with a native face.” The direction of this Pope Francis’ keynote speech, given in front of thousands of indigenous people, greatly suggests that the Synod of Bishops that will be held in Roma in 2019, will illustrate and be in line with his encyclical Laudato Si’. What if Pope Francis’ next step was a decisive denunciation of the doctrine of Americas’ discovery? Wait and see.
Sources: El tiempo, Telesur, Globo, AFP, La Vie, Europe 1.