Steven Newcomb: Colonialism clash in Peru
"For 56 days, thousands of Amazonian Indian people have protested presidential decrees in Peru that open their ancestral lands to oil exploration and other forms of exploitation. Numerous deaths have resulted from violent clashes between Peruvian government forces and Amazonian Indians – reportedly, 35 indigenous people and police have been killed and many dozens are wounded, imprisoned, or have disappeared.

According to a BBC report, Peruvian President Alan Garcia is of the view that all the Amazonian lands within the borders of Peru – which contain oil, gas and timber – belong to Peru.

“This government comes from the democracy,” said Garcia, as quoted by the BBC, “and it’s dedicated to the people, to all the people. I don’t defend sectors of Peruvians, I defend all Peruvians, and the Amazonian land belongs to you, to your children, they belong to the whole nation.”

In the context of the colonization of the Americas, the Latin word for “government” is “domination,” as evidenced in the Latin language version of decrees issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493. In the documents, the pope purported to give the Spanish monarchs non-Christian lands they were able to locate in “the Indies.” In keeping with the papal documents, Garcia’s words contain the contradictory meaning, “this domination comes from democracy.”

Pope Alexander VI called for the “propagation of the Christian empire,” and for the “subjugation” of “barbarous nations.” As Amy Goodman has reported on “Democracy Now!,” Garcia said 40,000 indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest do not have the right to prevent Peru and multi-national corporations from coming onto and exploiting indigenous lands. To say otherwise, claimed Garcia, would be to take Peru into “irrationality and a backwards primitive state.” These terms are synonymous with the pope’s use of the word “barbarous.”"

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: A deadly clash of worldviews in Peru (Indian Country Today 6/19)

Also Today:
Indian leader urging end to protests in Peru (AP 6/19)

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