AMERICA/ECUADOR - Thirty years ago the martyrdom of a Spanish Bishop and a Colombian nun who defended the natives

Monday, 24 July 2017 evangelization   missionary institutes   martyrs   indigenous  

Quito (Agenzia Fides) - On July 21, 1987, what seemed like a friendly encounter in a remote Ecuadoran jungle (today is the province of Orellana) turned out to be the terrible killing of a Spanish Bishop and a Colombian religious by the Huaorani natives. Mgr. Alejandro Labaca Ugarte, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Aguarico (Ecuador), and the Colombian religious Sister Inés Arango, were trying to save the indigenous people Tagaeri, who lived in voluntary isolation, and belonged to the Huaoran culture, threatened by an incursion in their land by oil companies.
This indigenous group, who rejected any contact with civilization, was considered bellicose, but the experience of the missionary who devoted much of his life to understanding the culture and customs of indigenous peoples in Ecuador led him to seek and establish a contact. Unfortunately, the epilogue of the meeting led to the martyrdom of the Bishop and nun who accompanied him.
Mgr. Alejandro Labaca was born on 19 April 1920 in Spain and began his religious life among the Cappuccini at 17 years of age. He had Ecuadorian citizenship after working in the Amazon since 1965: for 25 years he committed himself to the indigenous Huaorani population, participating in the literacy process. He had learned their language, their culture, and their history. He later decided to involve the missionary women in this work as well. Thus sister Inés Arango, and three other sisters, joined him. Sister Ines was born on April 6, 1937 in Colombia, and arrived in Shushufindi, Sucumbíos Province, in 1977. She accompanied Mgr. Labaca during his contacts with the tribes.
On the 30th anniversary of their martyrdom, REPAM produced a documentary entitled "Life for the Amazon", which can be seen on http://redamazonica.org. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 24/07/2017)


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