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Valdelice Veron's testimony for the Sommet des Consciences, July 21st, 2015. She is from the Guarani-Kaiowá people, in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil : “I am an Indigenous woman, proud to belong to the Kaiowá ethnic group. I am the daughter of Chief Marcos Veron, murdered in 2003 like 289 other persons from my people, who were slaughtered by big landowners during this last decade: children, women, the elderly, and men in the prime of their life. I am myself threatened. I take action to protect the tekoha, that is to say the traditional way of life of my Guarani people.
I fight against the genocide and the ethnocide that have been perpetrated in Brazil since settlers arrived in the 16th century. I need help! My people is shouting for help! I am only the spokesperson for a people that will not die silently! Our only desire is to live peacefully on the land where we were born, where our ancestors are buried.
I am a forests guardian, and my only goal is to guarantee to my children the “Green Legacy”, another word for nature’s conservation. The respectful relationship we entertain with nature, with the fauna and flora, is only an expression of the Kaiowá lifestyle. Our territories are being destroyed by greedy men whose sole goal is to get richer by supplying the international market with soy, meat… As for us, the scourge is biofuel: ethanol is made with the blood that springs from our veins and floods the Kaiowá land.
We also demand that the United Nations Convention against Corruption be strictly put into practice by its parties. This habit is at the foundation of illegal wood exportations, and, in other words, of criminal usurpation that is leading autochthonous peoples to a disaster.
During their travels around the world, Chiefs Raoni and Megaron became aware that the problems they are facing are similar to those of nearly all indigenous peoples around the world. Acting together with other traditional chiefs and a few allies, they will officially launch during COP 21 the Alliance of Mother Earth’s Guardians. It represents, for me as well as for all those who joined this initiative, a path for hope. This is where our resistance – against evils that destroy the environment we depend on in order to survive – stands.
I am here to demand international laws that would be truly binding, before new giant hydroelectric dams are built. Laws that would effectively impose, before the construction starts, as a sine qua non condition, that the work be in compliance with the final recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (2000). The Alliance will fight for the dismantling of the great dams that have already been built in violation of the right to prior consultation of affected autochthonous groups, as enshrined in the ILO’s Convention 169.
Finally, I ask international institutions that they recognize the notion of “crime against future generations”, a concept which should define ecocide, that is to say the crime of partial of total destruction of a specific territory’s ecosystems. To implement such a measure, we could start by changing the Rome Status, an alteration that any head of state could bring about.
The world is at a crossroads. Ancestral rights of Brazilian Indians, recognized by the Brazilian Constitution, are jeopardized. Our cultural, economic and social sustainability depends on Earth and Life. Mother Earth also needs her guardians, she needs the native people, as the latter has not fallen in the hands of greed and fanciful progress. We have to unite with one another, guided by these guardians who bring us back to earth. This is the only way we can conquer our future, together with all the peoples that fight so that the planet can keep breathing.”
© Planète Amazone - translated by Mahault Thillaye
Date : 21/07/2015