Thursday, May 15, 1997

Poets and Writers Against the Destruction of Amazonia (PWADA)

The destruction of Amazonia is old news: the media gives it now but a passing reference. Earth Day, though still important, has often become a series of local informative events and homages to Mother Earth and a ritual of self-congratulations for our munificence. Yet the distance between us and the trees that are cut down, the land gouged, upturned and depleted, and the contaminated Amazonian waterways, grows shorter. The separation between the destiny of humans and Amazonia will disappear as long as we remain spellbound by the flowing self-importance of our human affairs and isolated self-interests.

To develop an ethical relationship to the land, as Aldo Leopold stated, echoing ancient Amazonian beliefs, we must have love, respect, and admiration for its value--which goes beyond an annual day of remembrance of Earth's ecological endangered wholeness. Every day must be Earth Day.

The news from Amazonia points to a contrary attitude towards the land and its indigenous people. The Secoya Indians of Eastern Ecuador have rightfully accused the Texaco Oil Company of "turning their homeland into a poison tar pit--and they want Texaco to pay for health care and a major environmental cleanup" (The Observer, January 13, 1997). As Cristobal Bonifaz, the lawyer who took up their cause, has noted, the dumping of product waters by Texaco and other oil companies has been a deadly lightning bolt on all the fauna of the Napo River which runs through the Secoyas' land and which has traditionally fed them (see also The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 12, 1995). On the Brazilian side, gold prospectors' attempt to revive the 1980's boom (Boston Globe, October 26, 1996) that enriched some and caused an ecological catastrophe. The New York Times notes that the burning of vast acreage of Amazonian forests continues unabated (Sept, 12, 1996, v145, pA3(n) pA31 col 1). Logging operations still threaten forest resources in all the countries of the Amazonian basin (see Los Angeles Times, Dec. 16, 1996).

We poets and writers owe our allegiance to the procreation of forests. For centuries we have depended on wood pulp to disseminate our words. As human beings we owe our continuing existence to the uninterrupted cycles of nature. Let us then assume the responsibility to at least put our words on the line. I ask my fellow Amazonian writers, North American, as well as world writers to promote the preservation of Amazonia.

To participate in and support the association of Poets and Writers Against the Destruction of Amazonia (PWADA) please send us your name and address--it will be included in our Center for Amazonian Literature and Culture homepage. Poets, feel free to submit poems for our projected anthology. If these are written in languages other than English, please provide a professional quality translation or request one from us. We apologize that unused manuscripts cannot be returned.

If you've published books, in any language, related to the theme of Amazonia kindly consider donating a copy to the Center or send us the title of your publication(s) so we can purchase them and make them available to the public through our library.

Please consider becoming a member of CALC, which includes its forthcoming book-length publication, Amazonian Literary Review.

Nicomedes Suárez Araúz, Amazonian writer

Mailing Address:

Nicomedes Suárez Araúz, Co-director
Center for Amazonian Literature and Culture
Dewey Hall # 19
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

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