On Friday, January 31 , in the heart of the Amazon, three judges of the Constitutional Court, with their faces painted , listened to local Indians on how they were their opposing gold mining in their territory. A mining company, Cosigo Resources from Canada wanted to exploit gold in a very sacred site. The Tanimuka, Letuama, Yuhup and Makuna people, that have inhabited this region since time immemorial, were explaining how they had asked for a national park to be created to protect the subsoil.
In 1988, the government recognized the inalienable collective ownership of the Indians over one million one hundred thousand hectares of pristine rainforest, their traditional homeland. But this property does not include the subsoil which remains property of the State.
20 years later, in 2009, under the threat of mining the Indians decided to invite National Parks to create a park on top of their territory. Here two interests coincided , for the Indians the protection of the subsoil and for the Nation to conservation of a unique biodiversity. After almost two years of discussion in the communities about the implications of mining and of the park, a consultation was held as ordered by the ILO Convention. Although the Indians had asked for the park an official consultation was mandatory for the government so as to make sure that the Indians understood the implications . The park was created and it was agreed that the management would be based on traditional Indian knowledge articulated with State policies .
Shortly after a settler, Benigno Perrilla , advised and financed by the company Cosigo, pursued a civil suit against the constitution of the park arguing that consultation was poorly made and that the Indians had not understood the implications.
Three years passed before the judges of the Constitutional Court decided to hold a public audience in the heart of the jungle, near the Brazilian Colombian border, to listen to the shamans and to the settler. Several state agencies assisted as well as 160 Indians from the region.
The Indians were clear why they had asked for the park, they had to protect the site of Yuisi which is the navel of their spiritual world, it is where humanity emerged. Mining it would be the end of their shamanistic power. They also explained that for them minerals not something inert but are part of the life system to which we all belong, extracting them is an affront to nature that creates diseases to the environment and to humanity.
During the public hearing the few communities that had supported the civil suite explained that they had been misinformed by outsiders but that latter they had understood and now they were clearly in favor of the Park, the settler left on his one. These communities also made a public apology for having criticized the Fundacion Gaia Amazonas involvement in the process.
Now we await the Courts final decision.
Update: In Septembre 2014 an indigenous organization that supported the civil suite shared their appreciation for the work being done to protect the Park and asked via a written letter to join the program and participate on the conservation of their traditional knowledge and sites.