Continental Commission Abya Yala
Communique to the Holy See, Vatican State
Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery
Valley of Jovel, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
February 10, 2016
Your Holiness Pope Francis,
For the third time we issue this diplomatic communique to the Vatican State, recalling that in 2014, within the framework of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Papal Nuncio as representative of the Vatican State in the UN also received this request and gave our delegation assurances that delivery and response would be forthcoming.
The demands raised here obey the mandates of our Nations of Indigenous Peoples, which were deliberated and articulated in Plenary Assembly of the V Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala, with more than eight thousand Indigenous Peoples gathered at Maria del Piendamó, Cauca, Colombia in November 2013 and subsequently ratified by the Continental Commission Abya Yala in Philadelphia on September 23, 2014 and now here again in the Valley of Jovel in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico on February 9-10, 2016.
With the spirit of self-determination of Indigenous Peoples, equal in dignity and rights to all other peoples, we call on Your Holiness Pope Francis to commit to assume the responsibilities and consequences for the issues presented here which are directly incumbent upon the Roman Catholic Church. With the intention of moving deliberately towards the end of the era of colonialism and into a continental decolonization process, and with our ancestral mandate to overcome the regimes of domination that have been normalized and justified by the Doctrine of Discovery of Christendom for more than 523 years ago on this continent of Abya Yala [the Americas]:
We as Nations of Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala demand:
We demand an urgent appointment at the Vatican with His Holiness Pope Francis for a direct dialogue with the Continental Commission Abya Yala, in order to directly communicate our concerns and proposals to address the persistent violation of our individual and collective human rights, territorial rights and violations of our autonomy as Peoples, equal to all other peoples. We recall and reiterate that your request as Head of Holy Roman Catholic Church for forgiveness for sins and violations of the dignity of our common humanity by the church in this continent, is not sufficient if there is not justice, reparation and real guarantees of international recognition of our right of self-determination as Indigenous Peoples.
Likewise, as the Indigenous Peoples who are guardians of Mother Earth, we wish to leave as inheritance for our future generations a healthy world, without pollution, so that the life of Our Sacred Mother Earth with her children may continue to be extended with wellness. Recalling that in the encyclical "Laudato Si" emitted by Your Holiness, in Article 32:
“The earth’s resources are also being plundered because of short-sighted approaches to the economy, commerce and production. The loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food but also for curing disease and other uses. Different species contain genes which could be key resources in years ahead for meeting human needs and regulating environmental problems.”
The Indigenous Peoples celebrate your initiative and urge you to likewise assume the responsibility of Dismantling of the Doctrine of Discovery in order to effectively achieve concrete results oriented towards the protection of our territories and Mother Earth, travelling together along the path of the Original Instructions of our Nations of Indigenous Peoples, and with a renewed global cultural climate of Living With Wellness amongst all of humanity.
As a fellow human being and in defense of the sacredness of life, it is necessary Your Holiness intercede with the governments of nation-states to bring about enforcement of respect and guarantees for our human and territorial rights, an end to discrimination, institutional racism and abuse of power by colonial settler state governments engaged in blatant ideological and political persecution against the Indigenous defenders of our territories and the life ways of Abya Yala.
Also, in realization and exercise of our right of self-determination, autonomy and self-government as Nations of Indigenous Peoples, and moving towards the re-founding of the government states of the Americas as multi-national states committed to the decolonization and healing of Mother Earth, we remind His Holiness Francisco at the 11th Session of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues was presented the following recommendation:
4. The Permanent Forum recalls the fourth preambular paragraph of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which affirms that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust. Legal and political justification for the dispossession of indigenous peoples from their lands, their disenfranchisement and the abrogation of their rights such as the doctrine of discovery, the doctrine of domination, “conquest”, “discovery”, terra nullius or the Regalian doctrine were adopted by colonizers throughout the world. While these nefarious doctrines were promoted as the authority for the acquisition of the lands and territories of indigenous peoples, there were broader assumptions implicit in the doctrines, which became the basis for the assertion of authority and control over the lives of indigenous peoples and their lands, territories and resources. Indigenous peoples were constructed as “savages”, “barbarians”, “backward” and “inferior and uncivilized” by the colonizers who used such constructs to subjugate, dominate and exploit indigenous peoples and their lands, territories and resources.
The Permanent Forum calls upon States to repudiate such doctrines as the basis for denying indigenous peoples’ human rights.
Consequently and in accordance with the previous recommendation of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and taking into context the diplomatic communique of the Plenary of the V Continental Indigenous Summit Abya Yala (2013), and concerned about the validity of the Bull Inter Caetera which remains the as basis of international and national law, we as Indigenous Peoples express our concern for the permanence of the spirit of the Alexandrian papal bulls as fundamental to the relationship of the Vatican with Indigenous Peoples, and by historical extension the successor states.
For example, your own comments as bishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2012 regarding the dispute between Argentina and Great Britain over territorial jurisdiction of the Malvinas / Falkland Islands. Likewise, the canonization as a Catholic Saint of Junipero Serra in Washington DC in September 2015 by yourself, which we must denounce as being an affront to our human dignity due to the fact that this missionary priest is responsible for acts of genocide against of our Indigenous Peoples in California. We consider it inappropriate for Your Holiness to have instituted this sainthood, for it it is unethical and immoral to sanctify genocide. We call for the revoking of the canonization of Junipero Serra by the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
In reviewing the histories and current conflicts that narrate and contextualize the systemic criminal violations of our human rights as Indigenous Peoples in the hemisphere, criminal acts which are at the base of a genocide that is normalized and subsequently formalized by political and ideological persecution with impunity, resulting in the territorial dispossession our peoples under colonizing regimes disguised as "legal systems" under the mantle of the Doctrine of Discovery;
National states have taken the Papal Bull Inter Caetera (1493) as the basis for the elaboration of the legal concept of "original property of the nation", under which the states then presume to make delivery of our territories to national and international corporations of resource extraction, mining, and neo-extraction in general, assuming the prerogative to make international commercial agreements and treaties, without our Free, Prior, and Informed Consent and in Good Faith, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), "Special Economic Zones", ALCA, Plan Puebla Panama, IRSA, and now the World Bank global carbon market REDDs+, causing dispossession of Indigenous Peoples and bringing about direct and indirect irreparable damage to our Mother Earth.
Our position is that the Vatican State, the Holy See and Your Holiness Pope Francis, must take appropriate measures and carry out a process of international accountability for the role of the Catholic Church as intellectual author of the Doctrine of Discovery of Christendom, which continues to serve to normalize systemic human rights violations and colonization against our Indigenous Peoples in this continent Abya Yala [Americas].
Among other things, we also call upon Your Holiness to give accompaniment in the peace processes involving indigenous territories seized by States and other actors. For example, in the case of Colombia, there is an international obligation to guarantee the incorporation of the indigenous agenda in the Peace Talks taking place in Havana (Cuba) between the Colombian government and the FARC, ensuring effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in the dialogue and the implementation of commitments.
In conclusion, the Continental Commission Abya Yala Commission-Mexico, we exhort upon the Vatican to repudiate, denounce, and dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery and call upon Your Holiness, appealing to your human sensitivities, to make a public statement in repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery of Christendom. We demand the issuance of a new bull, a "Bull of Atonement."
The Continental Commission Abya Yala (Mexico) meeting in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, on February 9 -10, 2016, with the participation of a hundred representative delegates of Indigenous Peoples of the Four Directions of Abya Yala, call, summon, and invite our brothers and sisters of the continent, to join together to work every day in the Dismantling of the Doctrine of Discovery, with ethical actions in realization of the spirit of our common humanity and in responsibility to future generations and the regeneration of a New Sun.
SECRETARIAT CONTINENTAL COMMISSION ABYA YALA
Embassy of Indigenous Peoples802 N. 7th Street Phoenix, Arizona 85006
Contact: Tupac Enrique Acosta, YaotachcauhEmail: email@example.com