Amazon’s Indigenous Killed!
By Chitra Gunderson
“URGENT! Is there anything you can do?” It was the first email I opened that day to learn about the terrible tragedy that took place on the weekend of June 6 in Bagua, Peru, which is located in the north central part of the Amazonas Region. My heart sank as I read…
Two days of violence broke out between indigenous protestors and the Peruvian government, killing up to 50 indigenous civilians and police, and seriously injuring 150-200 more.
Wanting to find out more information I immediately picked up the phone and called John Easterling, the Founder and CEO of the Amazon Herb Company. John, a twenty-five year ambassador of the Amazon Rainforest and friends with many of the indigenous communities, had just landed in Lima.
“It is a major tragedy that took place last weekend,” John said. “We are hoping that from this tragedy there will be enough combined consciousness to see a turning point.”
Peaceful protests by indigenous natives had been going on for 59 days, protesting new laws passed by Peru’s President, Alan Garcia, “to allow oil and mining companies to enter indigenous territories without seeking consent or consultation of the local communities. The new laws designate up to 70% of Peruvian pristine rainforest to be leased for oil and gas exploration, putting at risk the indigenous communities lives and the world’s environment.” (Wipikia.org) Indigenous tribes object to oil and logging exploration of their ancestral rainforest lands and have seen no response from the government to respect their way of life and protect the natural resources they are dependent on. They feel mocked because the government has done nothing to address the important issues.
“Garcia made a cardinal error by failing to take the Indians’ demands into account when pushing through laws to encourage investment in pristine rainforest, critics say.” (Reuters article by Simon Gardner)
“Oil companies are lining up for their concession and have started moving into the rainforest to start oil exploration,” says John Easterling. “These indigenous tribes have legal rights; their rights are not being honored or respected by the government.”
During the coming week, Easterling will help organize a meeting with the indigenous communities to create a new sense of urgency. The meeting will be attended by multiple tribes, including Shipibo, Ashaninca, and many more.
“We are hoping to accomplish a meeting of minds with the indigenous communities to take their message mainstream, with the intention of reversing the government’s decisions and bringing about respect for the rights of the indigenous communities,” John Easterling said. “The majority of people in Peru are not in support of the government’s actions. By coming together to form a stronger force, we hope to turn the multitudes against destruction of the rainforest,” he continued.
Being offered the promise of a better life and no harm to their forest lands by oil companies, some tribal communities have already experienced severe environmental and health damage due to oil drilling, and toxic waste dumping. “The oil companies contaminated their territory, making their people sick, causing some to die, and damaging their land and livelihoods beyond repair.” (BBC News)
Achuar tribe’s spiritual leader, Tomas Maynas remembers, “When the oil companies arrived, the animals ran away, the fish died and crops started to wilt.”
Our rainforest and her inhabitants are in dire need of our help. Without the rainforest, the lungs of our planet and home to the largest diversity of medicinal plants, life as we know it will change drastically within the near future and for the future of our families.
Without the Amazon Rainforest’s native people we will lose valuable knowledge about the medicinal use of rainforest botanicals, of which any one of the rainforest plants could be the answer to a medical problem in the developed world.
For more information about how you can become a part of the solution to save the
Amazon Rainforest, call Chitra
(888) 310-2570 or email
Please send healing love to the Amazonian Indians of Peru who call their magnificent home... “Pachamama,” meaning Universal Mother. While their way of life and livelihood are being challenged and attacked, they are fighting to save the rainforest... the lungs of our planet... for all of us!
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