Amazon, a land of challenges

This Jesuit pointed out the urgent need to understand the richness and complexity of this land and to try to build future alternatives with its inhabitants.

"History repeats itself: big firms make money and individuals are increasingly poor and sick" an elderly native told Fernando. He has seen how in his community unemployment, hunger, poverty, and social disintegration have grown.

The process is always the same. A road is built, expelling the local inhabitants because they do not own the land. Then people coming from the cities to settle down, get malaria, become unemployed and get involved in fights with the local natives. The wooden industry arrives and offers jobs producing indiscriminate cuttings and land burning to install pastures for extensive cattle rearing or soya crops. Finally the "test tube" eucalyptus trees arrive to produce celluloid but at the same time destroy the land.

Corruption is added to this process, oil and mining exploitation, with the consequent river contamination. I would also point out the "drug traffic" which ends up trapping the population and justifies the incursion of North American troops thus militarizing the territory. The Amazon is the world's next geo strategic area. With the world's largest water reserve, the Amazon is a key area for power.


What can we do?

This is having dramatic effects on the sustainability of the area with ancestral cultures, the largest bio diversity in the world and a water reserve. Whatever happens in this area has repercussions in our world.

The Itinerant Team was created to defend it. Fernando is part of it and it seeks to bring together institutions that face common problems at the different sides of the Amazon border. It is the thread that holds the net together, trying to detect the village problems and take them to the international community. At the same time they work to strengthen the communities so that they may take care of the problems. Fernando insisted on the importance for civil society to work in network so as to build pressure.

Fernando Lopez also stressed the need to think on the Amazon's needs from a local point of view. To build a reality from the native populations, for them and for us. "It is necessary to assume that the "other" is not a threat but a possibility and each time a population disappears, a world's cosmos vision which complements and enriches us also disappears. If we continue to think only from the competitiveness of resources we will all loose."

Fernando also spoke about the importance of regarding the Amazon as a territory beyond the fictitious borders created to limit countries that many times divide communities. They would also like to rescue the value of living in the country side with dignified life conditions, with jobs, health, dignity.

We should all get involved in the defence of the Amazon, since according to the Yanomanis "We are responsible for taking care of the land, so that our children and their children may live happily in it", to which Fernando adds "we cannot kill the dream that the future can be made by us".