Declaration of the faith and territories gathering

From September 24 – 27, 46 people from Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Canada and Scotland came together at the Florestan Fernandes National School of the Landless Workers’ Movement in Guararema, Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the Faith and Territories Gathering: “The power of faith in direct action in defense of the territories”.

We are Indigenous, Afro-descendant and Mestizo people, community leaders in resistance creating alternatives in our local communities; representatives of different churches of various denominations ; and accompanying solidarity organizations. We are united both in our outrage at injustices and in our commitment to build a better world where we can all live in social and environmental harmony in our territories.
We shared our particular stories from indigenous, black and campesino communities affected by mining, agro-industry, infrastructure mega-projects and victims of unequal land distribution. We feel the pain of Mother Earth in the testimony of the victims of multinational corporations and states, that strive to impose on our people a model of development that destroys life on our planet. We declare our condemnation of a model where the economic interests and private property rights of some ride roughshod over the lives of humans, animals, forests, the oceans, water and plants. We utterly reject governmental promotion of destructive development models, based on the false idea that extractivism is the only source of wealth.
We delight, and are mutually inspired, by the many successful non-violent direct actions that have occurred for the recovery of territory in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. This community tool has been used when states, applying the dysfunctional apparatus of the justice system, have effectively denied the rightful use and enjoyment of territories and have stood behind the interests of national and international corporations that seize territories with the intention of turning them into merchandize. The defense of human life, animal life, the lives of all species, has pushed us to cross barriers that deny us the full enjoyment of our rights, to reclaim these rights in a direct way.
Our gathering has been inspired by the theology of the Indigenous Peoples where the spirits of water, wind, forest, rivers, and mountains have heartened us in the struggle to protect Mother Earth. In this rich theology our God is a Guardian Creator of all, she is a Feminine God, who inspires and protects us.

We recognize in sorrow the destruction caused to African religiosity by years of imposition by other religions, and we look with hope at the recovery by some Afro-descendants of particular religious roots, where we see, as well, that the divine has feminine expression, and is revealed in all things.

We insist on a return to the sources of New and Old Testaments, where God is committed to the lives of the poor, to just distribution of goods, where the earth is understood as good, as being in and of itself, and where ancestral inheritance cannot be captured, destroyed or converted into merchandize. From this profound conviction true theology must be based on love and solidarity with the impoverished, the excluded and with victims.

We are building a way of thinking, and a way of acting, where the theological knowledge of those peoples victimized by the economic model of free market capitalism, is in dialogue with the theological knowledge of those, feet firmly planted on the earth, who are engaged in professional theology. The latter, with the direct and vital support of the former, have made their commitment with the cause of the defense of territories, and refuse to collaborate in any way in the legitimization of dominant power that generates exclusion, poverty and death.

At our gathering, we were strengthened in our expressions of direct focused action. The defense of territories is an international struggle of solidarity in which we must declare our own commitments between participating countries, and with others, including the people of Palestine, as well as all the different sites of resistance and new struggles from urban territories on our continent and around the world.
To this end we make the following commitments:

 To strengthen work in local communities, and to deepen our political analysis, including the analysis of the reality of capitalism, and the new elements now emerging.
 Participate in solidarity with direct actions taken in local communities. Next on the agenda is the pilgrimage to confront militarization in the Cacarica region of Chocó, Colombia, in February, 2016.

 Engage in the planning of the fifth Faith and Territories Gathering in alliance with the networks: Church and Mining, and SICSAL-Oscar Romero, in Medellin, 2018, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Medellin Conference, which revitalized the Option for the Poor, and to especially seek the inclusion of women and youth organizations in this event.

 To deepen our diverse spiritual expressions, emerging from Afro-descendant, Indigenous and Christian peoples, with our differences and similarities, principally in the elements that inspire the defense, use and enjoyment of territories, based in the lives of local communities.

 To be coherent in our gatherings, and in our communities with the consumption of organic products, and the proper disposal of garbage.
 Promote among girls, boys and young people in the countryside and in the city, the proper care of the Earth, and the protection of territories as an urgent necessity for the survival of all life on the planet, and the recovery of the concept of Earth as a gift from God, for all women and men.

Guararema, Sao Paulo – Brazil, September 28, 2015

Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra -MST-, Brasil
Fundación Pueblo Indio de Ecuador
Comunidades Construyendo Paz en los Territorios -CONPAZ- Colombia
Familia reclamante de tierras de Mapiripán, Meta, Colombia
Comunidades de Autodeterminación, Vida, Dignidad del Cacarica -CAVIDA,- Colombia
Asociación de Familias de los Consejos Comunitarios del Curvaradó- Colombia
Comunidades de Base Movimiento Comunero, Jacinto Quiroga – Bolivar Santander- Colombia
Comunidades de Base Movimiento Comunero, Barbosa -Santander- Colombia-
Servicio Internacional Cristiano de Solidaridad Oscar Romero -SICSAL-
Comunidad Vida y Trabajo La Balsita – Dabeiba- Colombia.
Zona de Reserva Campesina de la Perla Amazónica -Putumayo- Colombia. Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT), Ceará -Brasil
Comisión Indígena Novo Xingu, RS Brasil
Centro de formación de Misioneras Indígenas del Ecuador -CFMIE
Conselho de Missão entre Povos Indígenas,Brasil -COMIN
Defensa y conservación del medio ambiente de Junín Ecuador -DECOIM
Centro de Apoio e Promoção da Agroecologia, Brasil -CAPA
Resguardo Indígena Alto Guayabal, Jiguamiandó, Chocó, Colombia -CAMERUJ,
Fundación Misioneros por la Vida, Colombia
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, Colombia
Christian Aid, Colombia
Christian Aid, Brasil
Consejo Comunitario del Bajo Naya, Colombia
Centro de Direitos Humanos Maria da Graça Braz, Brasil
Comissão Pró-Índio de São Paulo, Brasil
Centro de Direitos Humanos Santa Catarina, Brasil
The Church of Scotland, Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church, Scotland
Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço, CESE, Brasil
Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil, Brasil
Asociación de víctimas del estado, Inzá, Cauca, Colombia
Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Valle del Cauca Región Pacífico -ACIVA, Colombia
Igreja e Mineração, Minas Gerais, Brasil
Comitê Dorothy Stang, Brasil
Conselho Indigenista Missionário -CIMI-SP, Brasil
Igreja Povo de Deus em Movimento -IPDM-SP, Brasil
SOA Watch: Close the School of the Americas, USA
SICSAL Luis Espinal, Bolivia
Contexto, Bolivia