Home » Amazonia: «We must not remain silent» – World and Mission

Amazonia: «We must not remain silent» – World and Mission

by admin
Amazonia: «We must not remain silent» – World and Mission

The Bolsonaro era is over, the exploitation of the great Amazon forest is not over. The testimony of Father Sisto Magro alongside the small farmers: «It is difficult to go against those who have the power of money and bullets»

Many had hoped that the end of the Bolsonaro era would finally give breathing space to the Amazon and its people. As well as the rest of the world, this enormous forest being one of the great lungs of the Earth. And instead, in what is the richest biodiversity environment in the world, spread across nine countries – Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela, French and British Guiana -, it is still difficult to find an agreement even today just to fight together against devastating deforestation. The return to power of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil does not seem to have significantly changed the policies of soil and subsoil exploitation, on the contrary. Last June, a new bill approved by the Senate Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Committee established that the lands assigned to indigenous peoples are those they occupied as of October 5, 1988. «This means that the peoples of the Amazon, who have always lived on those lands and coexisted with the forest, from one day to the next they could be chased away!”, protests Father Sisto Magro, a PIME missionary who has lived in Brazil for 34 years and has been taking care of in particular of pastoral care of the land for the diocese of Macapá, in the state of Amapá, located in the extreme north-east of Brazil. A territory almost as vast as half of Italy, a very rich land that is continually “raped” by local and international politicians, entrepreneurs and exploiters who only pursue their own interests: «As for the forest populations, they are continually threatened and defrauded, also because they are unlikely to succeed to demonstrate their ownership rights with documents.”
It is a strategy of death as Pope Francis once again denounced in the new Apostolic Exhortation published on 4 October, Praise Godwhich “updates”, in a certain sense, the Praised yes eight years later: «As time passes – writes the Pontiff -, I realize that we do not react enough, since the world that welcomes us is crumbling and perhaps is approaching a breaking point. Regardless of this possibility, there is no doubt that the impact of climate change will increasingly damage the lives of many people and families. We will feel the effects in terms of health, work, access to resources, housing, forced migration and other areas. This is a global social problem that is intimately linked to the dignity of human life.”

See also  fatal penalties for the Giallorossi

Father Sisto experiences all this directly on his own skin and on that of his collaborators. But it is especially experienced by the Amazonian populations – around 400 different peoples – who see themselves, more and more every day, defrauded of their resources, of their land, of the symbiotic and respectful bond between man and nature. Pope Francis continues to repeat that there is no environmental justice without social justice. The people of the Amazon continue to bear witness to this through many forms of resistance and fight against the excessive violence and abuse they have suffered. «There are people who come to Mass after having spent hours on a boat or on foot – says Father Sisto -. They bring the desire to experience a significant moment for their faith and their Christian life, but also to share problems and suffering. In Amapá there are many conflicts related to land, between small farmers and large agribusiness companies, both local and multinationals.”

Gold, manganese and other minerals, noble timber that is exported, fields for large-scale soybean cultivation, cattle ranches with thousands of animals… «It is endless exploitation, often with the favor of politicians who perhaps belong, themselves , to families of land entrepreneurs or mining companies”. In April 2020, the highest deforestation rate in the last ten years was recorded in the Amazon: +171%. This is due both to the policies of Bolsonaro – who among other things had appointed Ricardo Sales as Minister of the Environment, accused of having hindered an investigation into deforestation and of having himself committed a long series of environmental crimes – but also for the reduction of controls due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The result was the “theft” of over 529 square kilometers of forest, three times the surface area of ​​Milan. But the examples could be multiplied infinitely. Already at the time of Lula and Dilma Rousseff, two mega hydroelectric plants had been built in Amapá and entrepreneurs from agribusiness and mining had arrived en masse. And today, with Lula’s return to power, there is no great hope for a change of direction…

Last January, the bishops of the region had denounced – also citing the Final Document of the Synod on the Amazon – that the indigenous peoples “continue to have their lives threatened by the invasion of their territories from various fronts and by their low demographics, being exposed to ethnic cleansing and disappearance.”
«People tell us what happens on their lands – Father Sisto testifies – and we go to the places affected by conflicts, which sometimes concern entire communities that are expropriated. Together we evaluate how to proceed. Often we first have to do training work, for example, on the land legislation of the State of Amapá. Our small farmers are unable to defend themselves; they often have public defenders who do not know the laws well, as do sometimes even judges. Recently I received a judicial communication accusing us of the Pastoral Care of the Land and even the public prosecutor of supporting small farmers in the occupation of agribusiness lands. Exactly the opposite of what is happening!

See also  Highly superior Werkself despair at the Gladbach bulwark

Often, however, before justice comes into play, threats and violence arrive. «We are continually intimidated because we defend people. They are violent and are prepared to commit violence. My brother and I were subjected to an attack: we were saved, but it could have been worse. We reported it and nothing happened. They know full well that they can do whatever they want with it. And the same goes for the people here: they burn their houses and crops with total impunity. 90% of our martyrs have not received justice. In recent years the violence has worsened. As well as the laws: they have established that private property only applies to the soil, but not to the subsoil, which is always the property of the federal state and which can grant concessions to whoever it wants.”
With Lula’s return it does not seem that things are improving: also because, on the one hand, he has appointed one of the greatest ministers farmers of the State of Amapá, but also because it is the slave of a Congress made up of people linked to the exploitation of lands and mineral resources. «They have the power and they use it to make laws in their favor – says Father Sisto -. We are in the hands of a group of people who only think about their interests and in no way about the well-being of the people.”

Recently the Petrobras company, of which the federal state is a shareholder, has started explorations for the exploitation of oil deposits over a vast territory ranging from the marine area off the coast of the state of Amapá, including the mouth of the Amazon River, to the Rio Grande do Norte up to the State of Amazonas, along the entire great river, where the construction of 95 wells is planned, with possible serious damage to the flora, fauna and obviously the populations. The first concession was given at the beginning of October in the Rio Grande do Norte area. Even Colombian President Gustavo Petro criticized Lula, saying that oil exploration in the forest generates “a huge ethical conflict, especially for progressive forces that should be on the side of science.”

See also  free calls to Turkey and Syria

«Pope Francis is a fundamental reference for us – Father Sisto intervenes -: he reminds us that defending the environment means defending people’s lives. This is our first task. And the spiritual dimension is central. Our spirituality is that of the Kingdom of Heaven which asks that everyone have life and have it to the full. Unfortunately – he adds – it seems to me that there is absolute shortsightedness, at all levels, as if we wanted to catapult ourselves towards the end of the world, rather than change our way of life a little.”

Father Sixtus, however, is not discouraged, even if he must admit that he feels a little alone, even within the Church, in this battle: «We must follow the example of Jesus Christ who did not go to the cross for nothing because he bothered many. As Christians we must do our part, even if it is difficult to go against those who have the power of money and bullets. But that doesn’t mean we have to remain silent.”

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy