Voting for the Amazon

Voting for the Amazon

Rosa M Martins, REPAM-Brasil

The Conferencia de Provinciales en América Latina y el Caribe (CPAL) shared this story on the #EuVotoPelaAmazônia campaign launched by the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (Red Eclesial Pan-Amazónica or REPAM) in Brazil to raise awareness on the importance of electing politicians with platforms that uphold human rights and the rights of nature. With the Amazon biome at its tipping point following decades of rampant degradation, the campaign exemplifies the importance of lobbying at the national level to demand policy and systematic change in better caring for Creation and all in the margins.

The recently-launched #EuVotoPelaAmazônia Campaign (I vote for the Amazon campaign!) aims to raise awareness on the importance of electing politicians and governments committed to advancing integral ecology, agroecology, social and environmental justice, and the rights of peoples and their territories.

The Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) in Brazil or Rede Eclesial Pan-Amazônica (REPAM-Brasil) launched the campaign that will run from May to September 2022. Awareness actions include conversation circles about the Amazon and the elections, reflections, videos, materials for social networks, and celebration scripts for communities inside and outside the Amazon with a Eucharistic celebration planned for Amazon Day on 5 September.

The Amazon biome is being exploited through deforestation, invasion of indigenous lands, and the perpetuation of agribusiness and mining in protected territories. According to the Amazon Assessment Report 2021 by the Science Panel for the Amazon, approximately 17% of Amazonian forests are now converted to other land uses, and at least an additional 17% are degraded. Around 36.6 million hectares of forests were degraded between 1995 and 2017.

The campaign emphasizes the importance of the Amazon and other biomes in combatting climate change impacts and is also identified as critical to Brazil’s October 2022 election.

According to the Archbishop of Porto Velho and Secretary of REPAM-Brazil, Monsignor Roque Paloschi, “elections are a fundamental space for the exercise of citizenship and the moment in which we can decide the course of our history and safeguard democracy. For this, a comprehensive education is important for all of us, the Brazilian people, an education that helps us make conscious decisions for the good of the community.”

Archbishop Paloschi shares that it is important to pay attention to the proposals that the parties and candidates make in relation to the Amazon. “We all know the fundamental importance of the Amazon biome and its socio-diversity for the balance of the climate and the guarantee of the possibility of life for future generations,” he stressed.

More than 350 indigenous communities live in the vast territory, 60 of which are isolated groups. Agribusiness, mining, illegal logging, and large economic projects are some of the factors that contribute to deforestation and the impoverishment of natural resources and communities that inhabit the Amazon.

“The Amazon is being destroyed and devastated by economic interests, which causes unbridled exploitation of natural resources, extracting all possibility of life, all in the name of technocratic development, as Laudato Si’ tells us, putting at risk the lives of all beings,” Archbishop Paloschi stated.

REPAM-Brasil Executive Director Sister María Irene Lopes spoke about the perspectives of this campaign from the cry of the Amazon that springs from the forests and its cities. “The idea is to make this campaign, from its launch, a strong moment of reflection and debate on the impact that the result of the polls can bring, negatively or positively for the Amazon and for all of us, since everything is interconnected.”

This article was originally published in Portuguese by REPAM-Brazil and shared in the CPAL website, with this brief video of the #EuVotoPelaAmazônia campaign.

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