Editorial, EL TIEMPO, April 8, 2021


(Translated by Eunice Gibson CSN Volunteer Translator)

There are some matters that can’t be postponed, that demand action. The special report prepared by this paper in conjunction with the ODS Center (Center for Sustainable Development in Latin America) of the University of the Andes, the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development, and the Gala Foundation, about the deforestation of the Colombian Amazon jungle must go beyond anguish and indignation. It has to be the seed for actions at every level, to put a stop now to the deterioration of those forests on which no less than our lives depend, and we have to be emphatic about this, the conditions that the next generations will have to live with. And life itself on this planet.

The extent of the disaster is clear enough: 507,615 hectares destroyed between 2016 and 2020. It’s true that the country is facing uncounted threats and challenges, but few, like the need to stop deforestation in the Amazon, have such serious implications. Making this understood in its full extent and at every level is a question of survival, and that’s why we have to repeat it as often as it takes. The call is to cope with the phenomenon in all of its complexity, beginning with the terrifying recognition that this deterioration is a reflection of a society with its priorities upside down, a fact that materializes with the attacks on the natural world and on life itself, as confirmed by Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Sí.

Anything that is done to stop cutting down and degrading these ecosystems must consider all of the factors and all of the actors involved. We have to start by stating that there are no magic formulas or single direction actions that will work, and that it’s key to guarantee that the people who live in that territory are unconditionally allied with the government, each building confidence in the other.

Yet we have to acknowledge the willingness of the current government. The efforts begin with the Artemisa strategy, the responsibility of the Armed Forces, and reach to the payments to families for their environmental work in critical areas; they include a bill currently being considered which, among other aspects, toughens penalties. That kind of concern has echoed in international jurisdictions.

But it’s not enough, and we have to learn from the mistakes in order to make changes in what we are going to be doing. We have to pay attention to the voices that, for example, are identifying the illegal seizure of land as the origin of the problem, beyond the cattle ranching itself. And we can’t ignore the chicanery they use to consolidate the ownership of a deforested area. It’s crucial to promote the physical and legal recovery of those areas, as Rodrigo Botero insists. He is one of the people that understand the problem most comprehensively.

It’s also urgent to have coordination among all of the entities that can provide their knowledge, particularly the ICA (Colombian Agricultural Institute), the Agrarian Bank, and the Colombia National Food and Drug Institute (Invima). There needs to be teamwork among the three that will allow the refining and consolidation of the existing information on cattle ranching activity that is booming in the area, as the special report condemned. This is so that the people can know for certain where the meat they eat is coming from. It’s because this is a subject that touches everybody directly that it’s necessary, vital, that we all take part, and follow the path of conscientious and responsible consumption.

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