Defending Life in the Amazon: Joining more hearts, minds and hands to this single mission, accompanying indigenous peoples and nations

April 2, 2016

Red Amazónica Ecuador: Construir una Iglesia con Rostro Amazónico

Because the network has been weaving despite our our Amazon screams! Unite our hearts to hear the cries of the people Waorani, Kichwa youth, all nationalities, migrants and refugees, Indigenous catechist, Cries of Colonists, Missionaries and laity, for all the cries of the jungle!  

 These were some of the cries presented in the opening prayer of the Meeting of the RED ZONE EAST AMAZON conducted on 17 and 18 February in the city of Lago Agrio – Sucumbios Vicariate.  Walking the Amazon Network since 2011 and managing to meet every three months, the meeting of Lago Agrio is the first of the year 2016, attended by teams from the Vicariate Apostolic of: Sucumbíos Aguarico, Napo, Puyo and Mendez; Servers Catholic Indigenous Amazonian Ecuador – SICNIE; the Ecuadorian Conference of Religious and Religious – CER; the Secretariat of the Pastoral Social Caritas Ecuador and REPAM.

This meeting marks a new phase for AMAZON RED, with space for

  • LISTENING , as they were sharing César Licuy – President of the National SICNIE and Cesar Tanguila – President of SICNIE AMAZON; we also hear the road and mission of Sister. Nardi Torres – Secretary of the CER;
  • ANALYSIS on the situation of each of the Vicariate, and Pan Amazonian reality;
  • CALL AND CHALLENGES for RED and finally closed with a space to
  • THANKING & ACKNOWLEDGING the work of those who have been part of this process as: Sr. Yenny Pantoja, Txarli Chuquimarca Cristina Azcona and which have contributed so much to this path.

That is why we share this extract on invitations and motions experienced during this session of the Amazon Network for Ecuador.

Major Invitations: listen, challenge us and calling us

Listening carefully Patricia sharing Gualinga, an indigenous leader of the Kichwa Sarayaku, during the meeting of the REPAM in Bogota prompted a space for listening and open dialogue of all members. As the testimony of César Tanguila – President of SICNIE AMAZON, invited us to a deeper analysis, he and we shared

“The common house is our life, is to have our food,  have a healthy lifestyle, think of the grandparents, the ancestors they did not need to padrecitos, they already believed where there is the spirit, from grandparents and respect the common home, nature, there is the Holy Spirit. There you go thinking and analyzing to the future, with these issues in the Amazon. Remember what Pope Francis said, new evangelization is needed is to know life and our problems from the perspective or our culture, from our worldview “

DSCN1363Against this, the foundational question arose HOW TO BUILD A CHURCH WITH AMAZON FACE? How RED can contribute to this building? How to meet the needs of the various actors in the Amazon?Although we do not define an exact answer, we identified that the road will continue in the perspective of joining more hearts, minds and hands to a single mission: Defend the Life in the Amazon and the Pan Amazon. In this way we can accompany the indigenous peoples and nationalities to be subjects of their own social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual history (LS -146).

We took a big step, confirming that this road will be possible through the joint with SICNIE AMAZON and CER in the Amazon, to jointly strengthen networking.

Since the share of the situation of the Vicariate of equipment that every day put their effort and work to populations vulnerable so they can achieve a better quality of life, some challenges as RED were raised: continuity, empowerment and capacity to influence social and political level to promote and enforce the rights of individuals and communities in the Amazon. The need to be creative, to know and be available desacomodarnos always adjust to the reality in motion. In the midst of it, we live changes as RED, and deeply appreciate the work of Txarli Azcona, Capuchin Brother, who was our Zone Coordinator for 3 years, and we welcome Fr. Angel Lazo, priest Salesiano as the new coordinator of the Network Amazon Zone East.

We finished our meeting with the conviction that ECUADOR AMAZON RED is a space of brotherhood and common union, since we are a space that has been inspired by the martyrdom of Mons. Alejandro Labaka, Sr.. Ines Arango and all / os who have given and give their lives in this territory. As RED recognizing our limitations and strengths, we are called to take over as Alejandro and Ines DELIVERY symbol and love without measures, and we are committed to further strengthening and contributing to regional process Ecclesial Pan Amazon Network – REPAM.

We are aware that are great challenges and deep commitments, but the option is here, in recognizing that alone can not get very far, and that together we can build path. Trust, as did our beloved + P. Juan Shutka (Salesian Missionary – Vicariate of Méndez) that our mission but nothing is easy, we know it’s not impossible.

By Susana Espinosa

During the days 22, 23 and 24 February 2016, a team of the Executive Secretariat of the Ecclesial Pan-Amazon Network (REPAM) visited the Kichwa community of Sarayaku. The visit aimed to strengthen ties with this community REPAM, share horizons and paths. REPAM the team accompanied a team from the Adveniat Foundation. For his part, he was making a video for Advent campaign that carries out this foundation in Alemania.Pore 

During those days, the Comunidadad in a gesture of welcome, provided a space for dialogue with the Governing Council orTayjasaruta . In it were presented, data, concepts and principles of the Sarayaku Community. This community is well known for his fight against mining activities, for the defense of community values ​​and regional and national political participation in Ecuador.

Sarayaku is located in the province of Pastaza, in the Ecuadorian Amazon. No roads, access roads are water and air. 95% of the territory of Sarayaku is primary forest. The coexistence of these people with their natural environment is understood in a series of concepts, principles and philosophy that manage to approach the harmony between nature conservation and good living conditions for people in the community. According to the vision of indigenous peoples, territories ecosystems are three essential ecological units: sacha (jungle), yaku (river / water) and allpa (ground). These ecosystems support a myriad of transcendent life of the nationalities and peoples Amazonian species. This way of living in harmony is an inspiration not only for the Pan-Amazon but for the rest of the planet.Sarayaku 4

The Sarayaku People has 1,500 inhabitants, according to the last national census in 2010. The entire population speaks Quechua and Castilian is practiced in schools and intercultural bilingual schools. The entire community is considered Catholic, without implying aside their ancestral spirituality. There is a synergy of both spiritual spheres. Most of the population lives on agriculture, harvesting, hunting and fishing.There are also small productive programs, fair trade crafts, community tourism, poultry and fish farming.

Tayjasaruta or the Governing Council is a system of social, political, administrative mixed, composed of traditional village authorities such as the kurakas or Community leaders and leadership model adopted national government regime. This level of government is recognized by the Ecuadorian State and has legal status. The joint governance structure allows them to sustain the organizational legitimacy inward of the community, as well as the legality have a rule of law requires for the requirement of the rights that it must ensure.

The Sumak Kawsay or village life plan seeks to maintain a healthy Sarayaku territory, no pollution, productive land and abundant natural resources to ensure food sovereignty. It is also part of this plan of life have their own organization, sustainable and free, in harmony with the concepts of development of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku. Involves knowing and practicing ancestral knowledge, traditional practices and customs maintain and strengthen their own identities.

The three pillars of Sumak Kawsay the Sarayaku People are:

  • Sumak Allpa : Territory, environment, natural resources.
  • Runakuna Kawsay : Economy, politics, society, basic services.
  • Sacha Runa Yachay: Wisdom, proprietary technology, ancestral knowledge, indigenous education, culture.

The Originating Kichwa Sarayaku seeks to consolidate its autonomous government, strengthening its own model of life, and thus ensure the continuity of their society and culture as Kichwa people, powered by the philosophical principles of Sumak Kawsay (life plan) and Kawsak Sacha (living forest).

Sacha Kawsak or Living Forest is the living space of all beings of the forest, from the smallest to the largest and highest, including animal, vegetable, mineral and cosmic worlds. It is a transcendental territorial area to revitalize the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual facets to restore power, life and balance of indigenous peoples. In this space dominate waterfalls, ponds, swamps, mountains, rivers, trees, populated places where the supreme beings protectors of the “Living Forest”, live and develop their life as well as do humans .

What invites us to share with the Sarayaku Community?

Amazonian indigenous peoples taught us with his life example how we can build harmonious relations with the ecosystem, and that this does not end there, but builds human and social relations strong and integrity seeking to protect the Creation that we was granted for custody and defense. The REPAM is constructed from these experiences of community life, they shared enrich and carry the message to where it has not yet been heard.

We are invited as Red Ecclesial Pan-Amazon, to disclose more experiences of community life that can light the path of others. These community testimonies teach us how Christ is embodied in people and realities that motivate us to build roads together, to bring the message to the world of the Amazon face of the Church.

Sarayaku 3


12 representatives of indigenous peoples from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia will meet for five weeks to start the process of Human Rights which will be accompanied by REPAM. This process includes 3 phases: training, information gathering and proposed formal impact on international bodies. The 12 cases presented will be accompanied by a concrete way by the Church, since participation involves pairs of leaders and pastoral agents to promote an accompaniment and closeness by the local Church, which in most cases is already a fact.

The topics covered in these five weeks are:

  • Module 1: Identity and Vision Pan Amazon
  • Module 2: Collective rights
  • Module 3: System HR (universal and regional)
  • Module 4: Documentation
  • Module 5: Incidence

Romina Gallegos, a member of the team coordinator of the School, says:

Romina Gallegos