(by Victor Mendoza Barrantes) I live in a port town whose bay, before the “fishing boom,” was called the “Pearl of the Pacific.” So much beauty in its water, sand, and beaches which can no longer be enjoyed because of our own harmful actions toward it. The richness of its ocean was over-exploited by the characteristics of “savage capitalism.” Today the contamination of the land, ocean, and air prevails. And this great beauty, can no longer be enjoyed up close, only observed at a certain distance. This is Chimbote, Peru.
From my position as a human rights lawyer, director of the Social Justice Commission of the local diocese, and in recent years a member of the International JPIC Committee for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (CCVI), the words of Pope Francis constantly resonate with me, “What kind of world do we want to leave those who come after us, to the children who are growing up?” (LS 160). An urgent and pertinent question about the future of our common home which is highly contaminated and impacted by excessive consumerism and the lack of respect for life in general.
My responsibility, as a response to the question of Pope Francis, consists in organizing and executing actions that lead to reflection and awareness of what is happening to our planet. Also, together with other people and institutions, getting the attention of government authorities regarding the urgent need to save our planet. That is why we are organizing our local participation in the 8th Pan-Amazon Social Forum in Tarapoto, Peru in 2017. This Forum will include themes of alternative paradigms and processes of resistance; territory, earth, and identity; climate change and food sovereignty, as well as consider the model of neocolonialism and its impact on the rights of indigenous and pan-amazon populations, including the rights and political participation of indigenous and pan-amazon women.
Approximately two thousand people will participate from the nine pan-amazon countries and from solidarity groups throughout Latin America and the world in general. There will be representatives of organizations from indigenous communities, women’s organizations, organizations working to fight climate change, social organizations, centers of investigation, and members of the civil society in general.
It will be a great opportunity to contribute to saving our common home and to continue to reflect on the meaning and value of life. “Why are we here? What are we working and struggling for? Why does the earth need us?” These are the questions Pope Francis leaves us with.
We must act before it is too late. I don’t want the Amazon or parts of its territory to end up like by beloved Chimbote.