Pope Francis and Indigenous Peoples: Together in Defence of the Earth
La Jornada: Angélica Enciso L.
Cándido Mezúa, member of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (Red MOCAF), suggested that given the agreement between Pope Francis and indigenous peoples in defending Madre Tierra, Mother Earth, or the "common home", there should be recognition of the contribution made by indigenous peoples to the conservation of natural resources.
In an interview, Mezúa pointed out that over the last ten years, indigenous defence of their resources has left at least 60 of their leaders dead. "Every indigenous person who goes out to defend their rights, their lands, is threatened. There have been victims in different communities. There are cases, the same as in Colombia, where they are displaced by drug traffickers."
On Saturday and Sunday, in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, the Alliance will hold the Latin American Meeting with the encyclical Laudato sí, for defending the forests, land and territory. Attending the meeting will be 120 leaders from 17 countries bringing at least five years of putting together actions by campesinos with rights—of ownership or use—to the land. Participants also include indigenous and campesinos from autonomous regions of Panama, Mexico and Red MOCAF.
Cándido Mezúa explained that the approach of indigenous peoples is consistent with the encyclical Laudato sí, which values the role of indigenous peoples, recognition of our common home, and the spiritual link with the Earth: "The Pope tells how this Mother Earth is plundered and beaten, by nature’s climate actions and the irresponsibility of men who plunder her resources."
In Nayarit, indigenous and river communities wrote a letter asking the Pope to intercede with President Enrique Peña Nieto to prevent construction of the Las Cruces hydroelectric dam on the San Pedro Mezquital River.
Translated by Jane Brundage
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