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Amazon indigenous leaders plead at Americas summit – Science-Environment News – Report by AFR

The keepers of the jungles, which stretch across eight Latin American countries, said national leaders gathering in Los Angeles this week must listen if they are to save the Amazon.

Indigenous leaders from across South America are in the United States for the Summit of the Americas, a biannual gathering of heads of state from the Western Hemisphere.

But, they say, many are not allowed to attend meetings where the land their people have called home for centuries is discussed.

“In these important events where governments are in power, we should hear from indigenous peoples from different countries,” said Domingo Peas of the Achuar community in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Peas, a member of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of the Ecuadorian Amazon, traveled more than two days by boat, car, bus and plane to get to Los Angeles from his remote community of around 100 families.

But when he arrived he was told he could not attend the event despite climate change being a big issue.

“Indigenous voices will not be heard at the summit, and entry will be denied to indigenous delegates,” said Atossa Soltani, founder and president of the NGO Amazon Watch.

Not hearing what they have to say would be a big mistake, she told AFP.

“Tribal peoples not only have the solutions to our climate and biodiversity crises, they are the indigenous people.

“The reason we have these incredibly intact forests in Latin America is because indigenous people have been caring for the forests for centuries and millennia.

“You have to sit at the table. You have something to teach the modern world.”

The Summit of the Americas is being held in the United States for the first time since its inaugural edition in 1994.

The gathering, designed to demonstrate US President Joe Biden’s commitment to the vast continent to the south, has stalled because a number of prominent figures are absent.

Most notably, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose cooperation is vital if the Biden administration is to get a grip on immigration, said he would stay away because leaders from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba had not been invited be.

However, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is expected.

Soltani said Bolsonaro, whose land contains the lion’s share of the Amazon, must rein in rampant commercial exploitation of the forest.

“The fate of the Amazon rests in the hands of these world leaders gathered here this week. This is the destiny of all of us. This is the future for our children, it is the future for life on this planet,” she said.

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