AMERICA/COLOMBIA – Indigenous peoples of the Amazon region demand protection of life and preservation of the “common home”

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Timbo de Betania – “In the face of the approaching threats, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon are committed to the preservation, conservation and protection of the territory, our ‘common home’, our Colombian Amazon. For the government, we may not be a money-making region and we do not economically produce anything, but we guarantee the local, regional, national and international government what is most important and precious: ‘life’, protection and tranquility for the entire country, the world and future generations”, says the joint statement released at the end of the meeting of the indigenous leaders of the departments of Vichada, Guaviare, Vaupés and Amazonas, which took place from 3 to 8 October, in Timbo de Betania, municipality of Mitú – Vaupés. As part of the event, which was convened by the regional office for social pastoral care in southeast Colombia, the participants dealt with the situation of the “common home” of the Colombian Amazon region. “The common homeland of the indigenous peoples is understood as a whole, it is ‘the world’, it is the way to understand it and to relate to nature and biodiversity in general and to maintain balance with Mother Earth”, reads the final document, which also indicates that the intrusion of public or private actors and mining companies causes serious environmental damage, leading to imbalance and loss of life, not just among indigenous peoples but throughout the ecosystem. “We indigenous peoples of the Colombian Amazon, therefore, as defenders and preservers of life, express our great concern and demand spaces for consultation in order to conduct dialogues that lead to understanding, preserving and maintaining our common home”. The indigenous peoples’ representatives recalled the need to “protect life and ensure the survival of the indigenous peoples and, more generally, of the Amazon biome”, endangered by the activities of deforestation, extraction and contamination caused by large companies, with the consent of the State, the participants in the meeting formulate the proposal entitled “Defend and protect life”. It is divided in 5 guidelines: the state must protect the indigenous peoples and guarantee them a dignified life, the areas of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon must be respected and the autonomy of the indigenous peoples recognized, the habitat in the Amazon region must be protected and the continuity of cultural traditions guaranteed for every indigenous people living in the Colombian Amazon. With their request, the indigenous peoples address all institutional authorities, from the president to the ministries concerned, the governors and mayors of the affected areas, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court … Finally, the representatives of the indigenous peoples ask all ecclesiastical realities that Human rights organizations and national and international aid organizations “continue to seek support in the defense of the indigenous peoples and in the care and protection of the common house”.