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We are the guardians of the Earth

Stories and News No. 1313

My non-Western origins should be raising their voice, right now, because today I would like to be a member of the U'wa, an indigenous people of Colombia. As one of them, I undertake to believe with all my heart that the world we live in has been given to us as long as we are willing to play the role which we were chosen for: to safeguard mother Earth.
This is the main task of our community: to take care of the planet that has been entrusted to us, period. There can be no misunderstanding in such a high purpose.
Of course, for many around here we are just "savages". Let's be honest, come on. When one reads the word “indigenous” or is watching images of half-naked individuals in the middle of a forest, most of people on the modern side of the screen think about backwardness and incivility.
Nonetheless, despite living in the same era, for some it is irrelevant what other peoples do with the life.
It’s hard otherwise, when for U’wa people’s neighbors their name means "the people who think" or who "know how to speak well". Impossible for U’wa themselves, when the meaning they prefer is just "people" and nothing more. This is enough to accept the mission for which they were born: to take care of the Earth, yes, it was said at the beginning.
On the other hand, it is an inevitable decision thinking that otherwise Sira, the creator, will take revenge through natural calamities such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and darkness. In a certain sense he is already doing it and, if I really should have my say about it, he should avoid hitting at random, raging on those who are actually innocent.
Nonetheless, the U'wa have never stopped keeping the pact and still today, after centuries, with indomitable courage they are fighting against the most powerful and cruel enemy that the guardians of the Earth of every place and time have ever faced: the oil companies.
Over time they have resisted the aggression of many formidable adversaries, such as the conquistadors, settlers and false missionaries, military and paramilitary groups and guerrillas. The population has decreased since then, as has their land, but when they choose the adjective "ancestral" to define it, it means that if your footsteps trample the meadows and the banks of the rivers, when your hands touch the leaves and the bark of the trees, when your eyes find the time to admire what has so far escaped the fangs of presumed progress, it is like entering a living temple. You may not believe it, but for someone else it's something sacred.
The greatest problem these days, in my humble opinion, is when those who are devoted to being its guardians are convinced that they are protecting something that should be precious to you too. To everyone, without exception.
In recent days, the approximately 6,000 survivors of the community called people felt new fire of hope rekindled, albeit never tamed, in the middle of their chests.
In fact, the U'wa have officially filed a formal complaint against the government of Colombia at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The crime is evident and explained in simple but unequivocal words: by facilitating or acting in cahoots with the oil companies, the rules have repeatedly violated the lands of their ancestors, threatening the survival of the inhabitants, polluting them with earth blood, as the U'wa call oil.
The Court has binding jurisdiction in most Latin American countries, so theoretically a ruling in favor of the U'wa could help protect many indigenous peoples and the ecosystems in which they live. Maybe I should say “we” all do. Or at least in this personal aspiration of mine, I do.
I'm not particularly optimistic about the conclusion of this story. In general, I haven't been for a while.
But today, even if only for the time of a page, I feel happy and proud to be part of a people whose primary task is to safeguard the Earth.
Because as a child I believed it was humanity…

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