Indigenous groups urge protection status for 80% of the Amazon

Marseille, France, Sep 5 (EFE).- Indigenous groups are calling for 80% of the Amazon to be granted protection as a way to ward off land invasions, drug trafficking and deforestation.

Gregorio Mirabel, an indigenous leader from the Venezuelan Amazon told Efe Saturday of the demands during the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which is being held in Marseille until September 11.

Mirabel said he was “completely convinced” that the proposal would be approved unanimously because the Amazon, the largest tropical rainforest in the world, “is going to disappear, and humanity with it.”

“It is time for them to understand that our model of development allows the forest to remain standing. The model of developed countries is destroying nature, and this has to stop,” Mirabal, the coordinator of the COICA group, which represents 500 indigenous groups, said.

The motion will be presented at the World Conservation Congress following the approval of the global agenda of indigenous priorities, which includes petitions on the governance of land, territories, water, coastal areas and natural resources.

The demands come at a testing time for the Amazon region, where conflicts linked to land invasions, drug trafficking and natural resources have sparked protests in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

Claudette Labonté, who is from French Guiana and oversees COICA’s family and women policies, on Saturday asked the visiting French President Emmanuel Macron to recognize the indigenous communities in the overseas territory.

“If (Macron) styles himself as the guardian of nature, he shouldn’t forget there are indigenous people on French soil,” she said.

“There are indigenous communities that are obliged to drink water contaminated with mercury,’ she continued, adding that women and young people are most vulnerable to the risks of marginalization.

Gilberto Nenquimo, president of the Waorani Nation in Ecuador and representative of the Amazonia 2.0 project, said: “The worry for the indigenous people is that we’re leaving our culture behind to adapt to the West.”

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