Silent extermination of indigenous peoples in the Amazon

June 25, 2017

Berlin, June 21, 2017. The lives of indigenous peoples in the Amazon are in danger. Their living environment is being systematically destroyed by the ruthless exploitation of raw materials, felling or huge projects for the construction of dams, which also involve companies from Germany. For this reason, the Peruvian bishop Pedro Barreto, special commissioner for the Amazon of the Latin American Church, today called for attention to the deputies of the Federal Parliament in conjunction with the humanitarian organizations for Latin America Adveniat and Misereor.

“The global community has to respond to violations of human dignity and self-determination of indigenous peoples, as well as to the destruction of biodiversity in the Amazon,” Peruvian bishop Huancayo Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno said. He reminded German politicians that, with his social and environmental encyclical Laudato himself , Pope Francis has also strongly urged industrialized countries to do so.

Whoever wants to prevent the silent extermination of these peoples must ratify ILO Convention 169,” said Thomas Wieland, head of the Humanitarian Organization’s Latin American Adveniat project department. The only binding international agreement for the protection of indigenous peoples guarantees, for example, that they must be heard when they exploit raw materials in their territory. “In practice, these provisions are evaded again and again because, to this day, at the international level, many respected countries, such as Germany, have not ratified the agreement and because they do not put any pressure on the local governments,” he added. The specialist of Adveniat Wieland.

Malte Reshöft, head of the Misereor Department for Latin America, valued the “National Action Plan on Economy and Human Rights” approved by the federal government in late 2016 and described it as a step in the right direction towards greater international responsibility. “However, the Federal Government has missed the opportunity to oblige German companies to act with due diligence in the field of human rights when doing business abroad. The victims are indigenous peoples: they are expelled from their territories; Their rivers are poisoned and their rights are trampled, “said the expert of Misereor Reshöft. Thus, Called on the federal government to advocate for an advisory center to respond to the questions of the companies in terms of their obligation to act with due diligence in the field of human rights. Along with this, it also requires an independent control center to handle the preliminary conceptual work and accompany the companies in their implementation.

The churches of the nine states of Amazonia have created the PanAmazonic Ecclesial Network (REPAM). This, along with other international organizations, including the humanitarian organizations for Latin America Adveniat and Misereor, works against the growing destruction of the environment and the survival of the indigenous peoples. After the failure of all the voluntary commitments of the industry and the Government for the protection of the Amazon and its indigenous peoples, there is hope that indigenous indigenous peoples will defend their rights and their survival.

Recently, four indigenous peoples successfully presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights violations of human rights. “It has called on the Amazon states to include indigenous peoples in public and transparent consultations when raw materials are exploited,” said Bishop Barreto. Along with this, the Commission has recognized REPAM as representative of indigenous peoples. Bishop Barreto also urged Germany to recognize REPAM as the representative and interlocutor for the protection of the Amazon and the 390 indigenous peoples who live there.

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22 June 2017

Leticia, June 21, 2017. The mining-energy policy affects the Amazonian territory, the food sovereignty of indigenous peoples, Afro and peasants, and increases the negative effects of climate change, Armando Valbuena, an indigenous Wayú and an adviser to the Organization explained. National Indigenous of Colombia-ONIC , during the III meeting of the Panamanian Ecclesial Network-REPAM Colombia.

In the event attended by more than 100 people, the contributions to reconciliation with Creation were examined since the encyclical of Pope Francis “Laudato Si”. Bishop Joselito Carreño, Bishop of Puerto Inírida, recalled that “reconciliation is ecological conversion in relation to the world that surrounds us, it is neither optional nor secondary, a change in the human being is needed.” According to the prelate, to reconcile relations with our Common Home, Pope Francis states that the deterioration of the environment has a relationship with suffering and abandonment to the poor, are almost always the first to suffer the consequences of environmental deterioration. “The cry of the earth is the cry of the poor.”

REPAM meeting

For Cesar Baratto (a theologian and representative of the Franciscan family, a teacher at Santo Tomas University), the image of God is taken up again in order to illuminate the keys to getting out of the present ecological crisis, in his words : “The theology of creation is born to rebuild and reconcile.”

Baratto said that “the current environmental crisis is linked to the social problems of the world. The challenge posed by the encyclical calls for a transformation of reality into all dimensions of life. The ecological damage and impoverishment of the person is associated with damages to the environment. “

Peasants and indigenous people share their vision regarding the care of the environment

There is a great threat to the water sources and in general to the Amazonian territory, caused by extractivism. The investment enters with alternatives of development that are not compatible with the expectations of development of the communities and peoples of the Amazon, in many cases the practices and interest extractivitas constitute a crime to the environment, the social life, the economic and the politics of The Amazonian population, said María Ramírez, peasant leader of San José de Fragua (Caquetá).

Armando Valbuena, indigenous Wayú, argued that the task now of the indigenous, peasants and Afro-Colombians is to reorganize again in their lands to strengthen and cope with the irrational use of the environment. An example of this capacity for reorganization, are the commissions for life and water defense, explained María Ramírez.

Omar Alvarado of the Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Villavicencio, leader of the popular consultation against oil exploitation in Cumaral (Meta) said that under youth leadership it is possible to defend and protect natural resources. “The young people played an important role in the process to expand knowledge about the defense of the territory and our natural resources.” Alvarado pointed out that the REPAM Colombia is a door that opens and helps to strengthen the work that was done in Cumaral and see how a new articulation is generated in function of the common good in the southern territories of the country.

About the III REPAM Colombia meeting

During the event that takes place from 19 to 23 June in Leticia, a pedagogical outing will be made to Puerto Nariño and surroundings (Amazonas) in order to make an approximation to the reality of this municipality and identify challenges and responses of the community and the local Church.  As a final product of the meeting, it is expected that a plan of action will be implemented, from this RED, addressing some of the main challenges of the Colombian Amazonian reality.

June 22

Leticia, June 20, 2017. There are major challenges for the Colombian Amazon in the aftermath of the signing of agreements with the FARC, which represents a major change in this territory that was largely under guerrilla control for decades. Now there is an open space where you can see a series of worrying activities such as the burning of the forest and the clearing of forests, which affects the life of the Amazonian biome, as it was announced in Leticia Monseñor Héctor Fabio Henao , Director of the National Secretariat for Social Pastoral Care, during the III REPAM Colombia meeting that is being held from June 19 to 24.

He also said that “the beginning of a dialogue at the Latin American level is a first step to form the Amazon network that must be built from the local.”

For his part, Father Alfredo Ferro, REPAM Global, plated that there is a commitment to the Amazonian reality and recognition of its wealth. “We feel challenged, we have great socio-cultural diversity with more than 400 social groups, but there is also a reality that is the extractivist and foreign model. Before the Amazon was the backyard and now is the central courtyard, there is a dispute over the territory, this invites us as a Church to fulfill a mission. ”

Recognition of indigenous rights

Gil Faretkade, an indigenous representative at the Agrarian Summit, said that indigenous peoples face two major challenges, the first “that in the country’s institutions, our health, education and life plans have not been included in development plans Municipal and departmental. The second issue is the dissident thinking in indigenous peoples, the challenge is how to consolidate the thinking of grandparents, youth, leaders and rulers. “He said that sustainable development must be ecological, with collective and spiritual decisions.  If not respected, these principles are doomed to end the Amazon.

According to the Indigenous Organization of Colombia in the Colombian Amazon, there are more than 62 indigenous peoples out of the 102 in the country. And of the 34 villages that are at risk of extermination (each one has less than 500 people) 26 are in the Amazon.

Analysis of the reality of the Amazon

The greatest risks for the Amazon are mainly in exploitation and deforestation, in the dynamics of occupation of the territory and the factors that favor colonization, the logic of violence and war economy, government colonization and extractive industries. It is also found that governmental and non-governmental programs have generated welfare dynamics in the population. Similarly, ignorance and violation of the rights of indigenous peoples have been identified, and there is no differential approach in development policies.

Actions of the Church in the Amazon

Within the contributions of the Church to the conflicts in the Amazonian territory mainly have been oriented to influence development plans.  The church

  • Has also had an important approach with indigenous leaders and communities knowing their needs and guiding access to their rights; has strengthened training in citizen participation and oversight;
  • Has had strong actions in the face of corruption; has launched entrepreneurship initiatives with vulnerable groups;
  • Has developed environmental education strategies and campaigns;
  • Has accompanied the community in protests against the public administration for deficiency in the provision of public services;
  • And has included the ecology dimension in pastoral plans.

About the III REPAM meeting

This space for dialogue, which has been attended by the Bishops of Amazonia, seeks to strengthen the identity of REPAM Colombia in the light of the Laudato Si, as a way to reconcile with the creation and protection of the Colombian Amazon. Likewise, it aims to strengthen the work in communion of the church to achieve more effective actions as a network and to agree the implementation of the joint action plan of the same.  Within the work agenda, the reality of the territories and local Churches is examined in the three subregions of the Amazon that integrates 12 ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the south of the country.

What is REPAM?

The Panamanian Ecclesial Network -REPAM- is a platform  that consists of multiple references of the Catholic Church (local, national, regional and international bodies, bishops, priests, religious, congregations, institutions, missionaries). Support and integral defense of the territories and rights of vulnerable groups, with special attention to indigenous peoples and other population groups, from the promotion of faith and the dialogue of knowledge, to promote alternatives of life according to the perspectives of The peoples and communities that inhabit the Pan-Amazonian territory. It is the convergence of Latin American countries with Amazonian territory Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname.


The REPAM Colombia is created in the founding meeting of September 2015 in Bogota, where the main goals are to create awareness in the Americas about the importance of the Amazon; To establish among local Churches in various South American countries an overall pastoral care with differentiated priorities to create a model of development that privileges the poor and serves the common good.

In 2016 at the II meeting held in Bogotá, a road map was drawn up to position the importance of the Amazonian biome in the national agenda.