A group of international Catholic social justice organisations is calling on the EU to reinforce its support of defenders of the Amazon region.
Driving the news
CIDSE, or Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité – a group that brings together Catholic development movements from Europe and North America – called Friday on Brussels “to uphold its commitments on behalf of the protection of the Amazon and its peoples”.
The occasion for the call, in the first place, was July’s agreement in principle of a new free-trade treaty between the EU and Mercosur, the Latin American Common Free Market.
That treaty, CIDSE denounced, contains “little to no guarantees” for indigenous communities defending their territories “from the negative impacts of international trade”.
But CIDSE also warned of the “extremely threatening” situation in which Brazilian indigenous have found themselves under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, in office since January.
The organisation decried that, under Bolsonaro, “corporate abuse and State negligence, fueled by corruption and impunity” have fostered “devastation” for Brazilian first peoples.
Why it matters
CIDSE set out a series of demands for EU institutions, including making European companies “accountable to European legislation in their operations overseas”.
“Hard law on European-wide mandatory Human and Environmental Rights Due Diligence is necessary”, the group warned in this respect.
CIDSE also said a “Human and Environmental Rights clause” is necessary in the EU-Mercosur agreement, and that “there should be a special clause and mechanism to estimate and address the risks and impacts on indigenous territories”.
The group further called on the EU to “increase international pressure and accountability to the Bolsonaro regime”, that it may better protect indigenous people as well as fulfil its commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
CIDSE also called specifically on Catholics to “support Pope Francis and the synod on the Pan-Amazon region”, so as to open the door “to a higher level of protection of the Amazon from the Church worldwide”.
Catholics are called “politicize the Instrumento Laboris [the Synod working document] and emphasize the Church’s responsibility from one jungle/forest to the other”, the CIDSE organisations said.
The faithful also need to “raise the message of the absolute need to stop destroying the Amazon and its peoples as a premise for institutional action within the Church”, they added.
“To be the church of the people, our experience shall resonate with their experience”, the CIDSE groups explained, calling Catholics to greater solidarity with the indigenous populations of the Amazon.