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Bishop wins ‘alternative Nobel’ for defense of Guarani

December 09, 2010

The Swedish parliament has awarded its Right Livelihood Award-- sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel Prize’-- to a Brazilian bishop who has labored for the rights of indigenous peoples since his appointment in 1981.

“Tonight, I take the opportunity to call the international community’s attention to the pain, despair and insecurity of the Guarani-Kaiowá people in South Mato Grosso,” said Bishop Erwin Kräutler in his December 6 acceptance speech. “The current government is ignoring this cruel genocide in progress before their eyes.” The Austrian-born bishop leads the Territorial Prelature of Xingu, whose 137,000 square miles cover an area larger than New Mexico. He is constantly accompanied by police escort because of death threats

Bishop Kräutler added:

For many years a new category of conquistadors has appeared in Amazonia. They are the notorious land grabbers who usurp public lands. They use paramilitary forces to defend their interests. They use political and financial influence to maintain their ownership of immense areas of land. The families of small farmers are targeted by these so-called proprietors …

Another huge problem is the trafficking of human beings. Young people of both sexes are lured with the promises of a better life and ample wages into the exterior. They are caught in the international network of prostitution … Child-prostitution in Amazonia is often organized by people from the upper strata of society. They are politicians, business people or merchants. They lure, promise, use and abuse and nothing happens to these sexual criminals -- corruption is their language.

The prelate also warned of the ecological effects of the recent commercial actions in the Amazon region. “Amazonia is ‘unique’; its biodiversity is ‘exceptional!’ Nothing in the whole world exists that is comparable to this region, the marvel of God’s creation,” he said. “Those anti-ecological projects of enterprise will have a huge and destructive impact on everyone sitting here in Stockholm this evening, on all people living on earth.”


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  • Posted by: rpp - Dec. 09, 2010 7:43 PM ET USA

    Of all the peoples in North and South America, few have suffered more at the hands of "colonists" for such an extended period of time, and few have been as protected by Catholic missionaries, and few missionaries have been as unsuccessful at this protection, than the Guarani people. They are the same people as those portrayed in the movie, "The Mission". May God continue to bless this courageous bishop.