Respecting natural resources
June 23rd, 2011 – Peru
On June 14-16, Oblates from Bolivia, Peru and the United States participated in an international conference on Extractive Industries that focused on “the problem of natural resources in Latin America and the mission of the church”. The conference, held in Lima, was organized and sponsored by the Justice and Solidarity Department of CELAM (Bishops Conference of Latin America) and MISEROR.
Roberto CARRASCO ROJAS, Edgar NOLASCO from the Oblate mission of Santa Clotilde, Peru, Gilberto PAUWELS from Oruro in Bolivia and Séamus FINN from the United States Province’s JPIC office in Washington, DC, joined more than 70 participants from dioceses and communities that are on the front lines of the extraordinary expansion of the extractive industries in Latin America.
Extractive industries, including mining and petroleum, are under new pressure to respond to the demands for minerals and energy that are continuing to increase across the world. The price for basic commodities like gold is also an important driver in the increased demand for precious and rare metals. The development of new technologies and processes for exploration and extraction has made it possible for mining and oil companies to penetrate deeper into areas and regions that were previously inaccessible. These developments have brought them into contact and conflict with communities and areas that were previously untouched by their activities, especially indigenous communities and peoples.
During the opening days of the conference, people from all regions and communities, including bishops, priests, religious, indigenous, and peasants, have shared their experiences, including the great suffering, destruction of livelihood and conflicts that have become a part of their daily lives as a result of this increased incursion of extractives into countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Guatemala and Colombia. Also included were an analysis of the input from the opening session and proposals and recommendations for actions.
The seminar was organized to search for a way to place the challenges of the extractives industry within the mission of the Church, the People of God. It sought to increase knowledge about the actual state of this type of industry in its global dimensions and the social, political, ecological and economic character of its consequences, beginning from a doctrinal, theological reflection that will guide the design of certain lines of pastoral action. (Séamus Finn)