This week, an estimated 100,000 indigenous leaders, community organizers, and activists of all kinds and from all places have converged on Belém do Para, a city in nortnern Brazil at the mouth of the Amazon River. The World Social Forum has happened every year for the last nine, a contrast to the hobnobbing World Economic Forum in Davos that happens each year at the same time. The week of action, organizing, and planning for the next year began Tuesday as thousands marched in the streets and 1,000 indigenous leaders took the first action of the summit, sending a message of “SOS Amazon” from the heart of the Amazon to the rest of the world. Indigenous leaders who depend on forests for their survival are concerned about the future impacts of global warming on their livelihoods, and in addition wish to be recognized for the good stewards they are to their own territories. Here’s more, from Common Dreams:
The mass message reflects “our concern about global warming, whose impact we will be the first to feel, although we, the peoples of the Amazon, have protected and cared for the forests,” Francisco Avelino Batista, an Apurinán Indian from the Purus river valley in the Brazilian Amazon, told IPS.
“We are raising our voices as a wake-up call to the world, especially the rich countries that are hastening its destruction,” said Edmundo Omoré, a member of the Xavante indigenous community from the west-central state of Mato Grosso on the border between the Amazon region and the Cerrado, a vast savannah region in the center of the country.
Both men belong to the Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), which joined the Quito-based Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) to create their “message from the heart of the Amazon.”