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Patricia Gualinga Addresses the IRI Dialogue with Indigenous Leaders

Patricia Gualinga addressed the assembly “An Urgent Call to Protect the Amazon: An Interfaith Rainforest Initiative Dialogue with Indigenous Leaders” at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

Thank you very much. I will start by saying that the knowledge and connection of the Indigenous people with nature is sacred. Nature is sacred for the Indigenous peoples is sacred.

And that is why we have always respected and lived in harmony with nature that is the essence of our existence. We must understand with clarity that this is why Indigenous peoples have fought and have given up their lives to take care of their territories.

This relationship with nature is incomprehensible for the governments and the corporations in the Amazon whom have exploited the resources without care and have not listened to the voices of the Indigenous peoples. Our wise people, our yachaks, have for many years warned us that the destruction of the Amazon implicates a global risk for all of humanity. Now also science is warning us but the governments and the corporations are not listening.

The Amazon is reaching a point of no return and if this happens the humanity will also reach a point of no return, because the destruction of the fountain of knowledge would have been destroyed, the fountain of the good energies that maintain equilibrium would have been destroyed, and everything will have been destroyed.

My father Sabino Gualinga who was a yachak who passed away a year ago would tell me that the fountain of healing of the illnesses is the energy of nature, that everything is living. We are made of nature, our physical being is made out of nature, we cannot self-destruct.

Our spirit that does come from the most high of creation but if we destroy the Earth, if we destroy the physical that permits us to be here with our spirit, we will destroy ourselves. The two are interconnected.

I come from the Amazon of Ecuador from Sarayaku, the peoples of the midday. We have struggled against extractive oil companies and we have forced them out successfully. Other Indigenous people continue to struggle against logging and mining companies and other agents who are destroying the Amazon not just in Ecuador but in all the Amazonian Basin. 

Making an analysis with all of this the Indigenous peoples of Sarayaku have spearheaded a proposal of the living forest “Selva Viviente”, which tries to generate a consciousness of the value of the knowledge of Indigenous peoples. The living forest is a search that the forest be considered and recognized as a living being that is subject to his own rights.

We are all interconnected and our ecosystems are interconnected by invisible threads to other vital spaces making the flow of life and generating life.

We all need to support each other to unite and be one force, be allies in the struggle for life. To take care of nature as a fountain of life and spirituality is not just the responsibility of Indigenous peoples, it’s the responsibility of all of us.

The Creation is a divine work of the most high. Humanity does not have a right to destroy it. It has a right to make use of it in a responsible, respectful way but not to destroy it.

I make a call to all of you to unite in this struggle from our different places of origin.

The Amazonian ecosystem as a source, as a fountain of life of the Indigenous people who are defending it, are making a call to act, to defend the future, to defend the life of the planet. 

Lastly, I ask for your prayers and compromise for all of the Amazon as a source of life. And specifically this Sunday in my country there will be a referendum to leave the oil underground in a place called Yasuni and to say no to mining in the Chocó Andino.

Thank you very much and I appreciate your compromise.

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