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Oblate Parish Pastors Support Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon

June 8th, 2009

Oblate pastors of Latin America, meeting in Lima, Peru on April 20-25, 2009, published the following declaration: Protecting and Respecting the Amazon, we protect the indigenous. The declaration was signed by 41 Oblates and 2 diocesan priests.

Protecting and Respecting the Amazon, we protect the indigenous

1. We recognize that the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon make up one of the most forgotten, marginalized, exploited and excluded groups of humans in our society where their rights are overlooked and wounded by neglect, by disinterest and by the application of public policies on the part of some governments that favor economic models incompatible with the care of creation, concretely, the Amazon and the peoples who live there.

2. In Latin America, they are trying to entrench an “evil economic system” (Document of Aparecida 385), characterized by the pursuit of wealth and the deepening of a worldwide economic-financial crisis that worsens the poverty and the inequality of our peoples; the devaluation of the human person; the increase of social injustice and ecological destruction which threatens the very existence of indigenous and peasant communities that are being despoiled of their lands; institutionalized violence; corruption; the mistreatment of people; the criminalization of protests; impunity; drugs and drug traffic; urban poverty; migrants; the water crisis; the alliance of the communications media with the powerful; consumerism and false advertising…

3. We join ourselves to the call of civil society and of the churches that are working with the indigenous peoples, especially the call for total respect of Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in independent countries, from the International Labor Organization, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. In these, respect for the life and lands as ancestral property of these peoples is clear.

4. In the context of the First Latin American meeting of Oblate Pastors, we reaffirm our missionary and prophetic presence in these various communities – the indigenous, the farm workers, those of African origin, and the impoverished in urban centers, letting “our lives be enriched by the poor and the marginalized as we work with them, for they can make us hear in new ways the Gospel we proclaim. (Rule 8a)

5. In this task, we will carefully listen to their deep values, their wisdom and their cultural traditions. We raise the call of a greater solidarity with the struggles of the indigenous peoples to defend their water, their land and their right to exist and enjoy a dignified life. As Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate who work in these lands, we join them in all of their demonstrations and just claims that flow from the hearts of our peoples.

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