AMERICA/BRAZIL - Indigenous Yanomami: "the Church is always for the defense of life, land and the rights of peoples"

Monday, 30 January 2023 indigenous   missionary animation   local churches   human rights  


Roraima (Agenzia Fides) - The Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon (CEAMA) and the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), in union with the Church of Brazil, reaffirmed their commitment to be allies of the Amazonian peoples "to denounce attacks on the lives of indigenous communities, projects that affect the environment, the lack of demarcation of their territories, as well as the predatory and ecocidal economic model of development". In the January 28 pronouncement they confirm, "our response as a Church is the defense of life, land and the rights of peoples".
The statement, signed by the two Presidents, of CEAMA, Cardinal Pedro Barreto, and REPAM, Monsignor Rafael Cob Garcia, once again expresses solidarity and commitment with the Yanonami people and those struggling to defend their territories and lives. In particular, they recall the appeals launched earlier by the Northern Region 1 of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB) and REPAM-Brazil.
The Government of Brazil declared on January 20 a health emergency of national importance in the Yanomami Indigenous Land, resulting from the state of neglect that indigenous peoples have suffered in recent years. The government also announced the sending of health and food aid to the region, as well as the establishment of two field hospitals, one of which has just begun to function.
According to information gathered by Fides, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples has notified that in recent years at least 570 Yanomami children have died from the consequences of mercury contamination, malnutrition and hunger. In the past year alone, 99 children between the ages of 1 and 4 died. The number of children hospitalized has increased significantly in recent weeks.
Following the visit of Brazil's new President Lula da Silva to the Yanomami territories, the Minister of Justice announced the opening of an investigation for possible genocide of the indigenous population, as there is evidence of a denial of medical and food assistance to these populations. The investigation will also touch on crimes related to the environment, as the serious health situation is linked to mining activities in illegal mines in the region, clandestine activity that pollutes rivers and destroys the forest, and the misuse of public funds, which had been allocated to assist these populations.
In the aftermath of the declaration of the health emergency, the Bishops of the Northern Region 1 of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) issued a note of solidarity in the face of the plight of the indigenous people. Appreciating the government's decision, they said they were "dismayed and deeply outraged, seeing the images of the skeletal bodies of children and adults of the Yanomami people in the state of Roraima, the result of the genocidal and ecocidal actions of the previous federal government."
The bishops expressed their "deep solidarity with the Yanomami people, the families who lost their children and adults, and the indigenous leaders. They are united with the missionaries and missionaries of the Church of Roraima and the Indigenist Missionary Council (CIMI) who have long denounced the invasion of Yanomami territory and its tragic consequences. They support the decisions made by the President, several Ministers and Councillors after visiting the region.
That inhabited by the Yanomami is the largest indigenous territory in Brazil, over 9 million hectares, is inhabited by 28,000 natives who speak 6 languages, grouped in more than 300 communities and isolated groups. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 30/1/2023)