We present the Second Regional Report of the PAN-AMAZONIAN ECCLESIAL NETWORK (REPAM) on the violation of Human Rights in the Pan-Amazon after two years of the ravages caused by Covid-19 in the territory. It is worth noting that the number of affected and deceased persons is significantly higher than the records of the general population. The local population, particularly indigenous peoples, are more vulnerable due to the lack of access to public health services. The impact of the pandemic coincides with the deterioration of Human Rights. The growth of violence, the number of victims, defenders of the lands and the environment, killed with impunity is alarming.
The destruction of the tropical forest due to extractivism is increasing, favoring the logic of economic criteria instead of protection and respect for the territory and its inhabitants. Today, it is common to hear indigenous leaders state that the Amazon is on fire due to the increased violence, in addition to the factors of climate change.
We are aware of the alarming conclusion of the Amazon Synod:
The PAN-AMAZONIAN ECCLESIAL NETWORK (REPAM) is an instance endorsed and co-founded by the regional institutions of the Catholic Church: CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council), the CNBB (National Conference of Bishops of Brazil through its Commission for the Amazon), the CLAR (Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Women and Men), the Social Pastoral Caritas Latin America and the Caribbean, and Episcopal Conferences and National Religious, with the support of the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development. We highlight the recently created Amazon Ecclesial Conference, a result of the Synod. REPAM combines a variety of referents from the Catholic Church and other groups and people of good will, who work, among many other things, in the follow-up and integral defense of territories, vulnerable groups (with special attention to indigenous people and peasants), and their rights.
REPAM seeks to work in the nine countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela, and French Guiana as an overseas territory) that make up the Pan-Amazon. We have been joined by a diversity of organizations and territorial institutions, ecclesial instances, and international networks with experience in Human Rights and Advocacy, and in articulation with Catholic or related universities in the region.
REPAM was founded in 2014 in communion with the vision that Pope Francis would deliver later in his socio-environmental Encyclical “Laudato Si” on the care of our Common Home. It is from this vocation that REPAM longs to continue its close collaboration and direct accompaniment and promotion of the Amazonian populations and ecclesial organizations, to strengthen efforts in the comprehensive defense of this territory, and its multiple criminalized or threatened actors, from an integral perspective of Human Rights and from the Social Doctrine of the Church.
We want, fundamentally, to encourage a profound reconciliation of the human spirit. The complex, but often fruitful, dialogue between the fundamental principles of Christianity and the foundations that support the premises of human rights requires a perspective of complementarity, beyond positions that prevent an approach. Love for others, which starts from recognizing them and yearns for their dignity, is based on the principle of mercy. Pope Francis expresses it in the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, “dialogue is the most appropriate way to reach and recognize respect”. The Pope invites us to develop a culture of encounter to promote social friendship.
That is why REPAM, and its human rights center, aim to become a platform to work in an articulated way, forming a process for the territorial actors to be the promoters in the enforceability of their rights, and for us to accompany their searches and struggles. Thus, REPAM acts as an articulator of forces to connect the spaces between the territory and those of regional and international incidence.
Therefore, REPAM has created a specialized School for the “promotion, defense, and enforceability of Human Rights in the Pan-Amazon”, which is the result of a deep discernment, from listening to the cries and hopes, embodying it, assuming an ecclesial history with lights and shadows, remaining there with those who suffer the impacts of this system. This world does not give anymore and produces more and more “disposables” as the Pope points out. This experience of listening to the Earth and the cry of the poor has been key in the role of REPAM in the dialogue with the church of the Amazon in the Synod.
This school has been animated and coordinated, since its First Edition, by the Executive Secretariat of REPAM, in its role of coordinating the Human Rights center, and has been built by the sum of efforts of as many instances as: the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), the Amazon Itinerant Team, the Amazon Center for Anthropology and Practical Application (CAAAP), Caritas Ecuador and Spain, the Human Rights Center of the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, specialized advisors (DPLF, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – CIDH), and other instances, international networks of the Church (congregations, universities, Episcopal Conferences, Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN, specialized agencies and centers) in Washington, New York and Europe. And, for the second edition, we will have the support of other social centers and universities with work in the Pan-Amazonian reality.
However, the essential work has been that of the territories themselves (13 territories participated in the First Edition of our School that supports this document), who have participated in the training, replication, documentation, and international advocacy actions, each one with different rhythms according to realities, possibilities, and accompaniment of the local instances of REPAM, but they are the authors of this important report, which has been integrated and articulated by the Executive Secretariat and the Human Rights center, especially from Caritas Spain, whose participation we deeply appreciate.
The Amazon Synod urges an ecological conversion to promote the new paradigm of integral ecology that consists of protecting the environment and defending the rights of the poor. Integral ecology is not just another way, it is the only way possible, there is no other viable way for the region. The depredation of the territory is accompanied by the shedding of innocent blood and the criminalization of defenders of the Amazon (Final Document, 65, 67).
May this document be an instrument to affirm our preferential option, as Church and REPAM, for the most impoverished, threatened, and excluded, and may it also be an affirmation of our intention to embrace their hopes and recognize that our mission will only be fulfilled when they are the subjects of their own history.