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Pope’s message to Amazonia inspires hope, but will it bring action?

22 / 01 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

Pope Francis arrives at the sports arena in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. The pope spoke out against deforestation due to illegal mining and the misery it is bringing to Peru’s indigenous people. Photo by Luis Fernandez courtesy of the Centro de Innovación Científica Amazónica There is nothing quite so effective as an historic visit by a charismatic pope for bringing grave moral issues into the bright light of spiritual hope. Pope Francis did just that on 19 January when he arrived in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, the capital of Madre de Dios state in the Amazon which is rich in biodiversity, but also in gold; nearly 62,500 hectares (154,440 acres) of forest were lost there to illegal gold mining between 2012 and 2016, an area bigger than ten Manhattan islands. Nature isn’t the only victim of Illegal gold mining. The deforestation, violence and land conflicts, and toxic mercury pollution it brings to local rivers, are also seriously impacting indigenous communities who for centuries have laid claim to their ancestral rainforests and waterways. “The native Amazonian peoples have probably never been so threatened on their own lands as they are at present,” Pope Francis said in a stirring address to a huge crowd that filled a sports arena and included many indigenous people dressed in their finest decorative robes and feathered-headdresses. The pope didn’t only blame illegal small-scale miners for the Peruvian deforestation crisis. “Amazonia is being disputed on all fronts,” the pope said. “There is the pressure being exerted by great business…

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