Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MEXICO: Indigenous Peoples call upon Pope Francis to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery

Posted in Proceso February 14, 2016

Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. (Proceso.com.mx). - A few hours before the arrival of Pope Francis to Chiapas, Mexico delegations of Indigenous Peoples of North, Central and South America called upon him to make a public declaration repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, a concept enshrined in a bull of Pope Alexander VI in 1493 that justified the colonization of the Original Nations and the dispossession of their territories.  The delegation called for the Pope to issue a new bull, a "bull of atonement."

Gathering last week in San Cristobal de las Casas, the indigenous representatives of the Continental Commission Abya Yala [the Americas] sent a diplomatic communiqué to Pope Francis not as a religious chief, but as the head of the Vatican State, a member state of the UN system. 

Previously in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in July 2015, Pope Francis made a public apology for complicity of the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the colonization of the hemisphere and asked for forgiveness of the Indigenous Peoples. 

In the statement from Mexico by the Continental Commission Abya Yala the response was given that apologies or forgiveness "is not enough, if there is no justice, reparation and guarantees of international recognition of our right to self-determination as Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples".

The Continental Commission Abya Yala pointed out that this is the third time which the diplomatic communiqué has been delivered to the Vatican State, including in 2014, where at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the papal nuncio at the UN in New York personally took receipt of the appeal which includes a request for an audience with the Pope in Rome.

In their public statement to the Vatican, the Continental Commission Abya Yala made known that their demands obey the mandates of the Indigenous Peoples, and whose particulars were deliberated in the framework of the Plenary Assembly of the V Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala, which engaged more than eight thousand grass roots Indigenous Peoples gathered Piendamó La Maria, Cauca, Colombia in November 2013.  Subsequently, the communiqué was and ratified by the Continental Commission Abya Yala in Philadelphia on September 23, 2014 and now here in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, 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]", the statement reads.

Speaking to Pope Francis as Nations of Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala the public letter continues:

"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. "

The diplomatic letter by the Indigenous Peoples explains that: "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."

They also welcomed the Pope Francis' speaking out for the protection of Mother Earth and against the depredation of forests and forests.

However, they expressed their concern regarding the validity of the Bull Inter Caetera issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493 which remains until today as a foundation of international and national law.

"Indigenous peoples express our concern for the permanence of the spirit of the Alexandrian papal bulls as part of his holiness relationship with indigenous peoples," said the diplomatic note.

For this reason, the challenge to Vatican State was given to assume responsibility for the dismantling of the Doctrine of Discovery in the Americas in order to achieve concrete results oriented towards the protection of indigenous territories and Mother Earth, following in the ways of the life of the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples and a spirit of Living With Wellness for all of humanity.

The letter to Pope Francis includes an admonishment for the beatification of Junipero Serra which he officiated in September 2015 in Washington, DC.

The granting of sainthood for Serra is considered by the delegation as an attack on the human dignity of all Indigenous Peoples, as this missionary of the Catholic Church carries blame for his role in the genocide of native peoples in California.

The letter states: "We consider it inappropriate for Your Holiness to have instituted this sainthood, for 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.

The document specifies that in reviewing the histories and current conflicts which give testimony to the criminal violations of human rights of Indigenous Peoples across the hemisphere, the Doctrine lie at the base of an ongoing genocide that normalizes and subsequently formalizes the systemic persecution of Indigenous Peoples, both political and ideological.  Acting with intellectual impunity, the territorial dispossession of Indigenous Peoples is disguised as legitimate via domestic "legal systems" which proceed from under the mantle of the Doctrine of Discovery.

According to the Indigenous Peoples who gathered in San Cristobal de las Casas, national states have taken the bull Inter Caetera of Pope Alexander VI 1493 as the basis for the legal concept of "original property of the nation", under which they presume to make delivery of the territories of the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples to national and international industries for resource extraction, mining and neo-extractivism in general.

With this presumption of title over territory, the states assume the prerogative to make international agreements and treaties, without the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples, and in good faith, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA; the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), the "Special Economic Zones", ALCA, Plan Puebla Panama, IRSA, the global carbon market program REDDs +, leading to the dispossession of Indigenous Peoples and direct and irreparable damage to Mother Earth.

Published in Proceso February 14, 2016
By Isaín Mandujano


Continental Commission Abya Yala

Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery


Mexico: Indigenous Peoples demand that Pope Francis rescind the "Doctrine of Discovery"

Framework of Domination
UN Preliminary Study on the Doctrine of Dsicovery  



The O'odham in Sonora, which is recognized under international law with our right as such is indicated in the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (articles: 3,4,5, 6,7,8, 9 AND 10), and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization. We were never a product of the Doctrine of Discovery of other peoples, which we reject categorically and permanently.


Fall Equinox 2015: Statement of the Continental Commission Abya Yala

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