“Only when the white man will have destroyed the entire forest, killed all the fish and animals, and dried up all the rivers, will he realize that no one can eat money.”
“Saving our common home together”: was the message delivered by the Brazilian indigenous Chief Raoni when he visited Lyon on May 27th, 2019.
With this umpteenth trip as part of a European tour to raise awareness about the preservation of the Amazonian forest, Raoni strongly hopes to raise one million euros to safeguard the Xingu reserve in Brazil, threatened by logging and agri-food industries.
Raoni was born in the 1940s (the date is uncertain, the records did not exist at the time) in the state of Para, in the heart of Brazil’s Amazonian forest. For four decades, he has been fighting on a daily basis to save the Amazonian forest that saw him born and grow up. His fight took on a media dimension in 1976 when the young Belgian filmmaker Jean Pierre Dutilleux shot the film “Raoni”. This movie was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 1977 and the Oscars in 1978. Raoni realized that media coverage was one of the most effective ways to protect the world’s largest forest and the tribes that live there.
This was followed by a world tour in 1989 with the singer Sting and Jean Pierre Dutilleux. The first international campaign for the protection of the Amazon, tropical forests in general and their indigenous peoples has been launched: 17 countries in 60 days, punctuated by meetings with many heads of state and leading figures (François Mitterrand, King Juan Carlos of Spain, His Holiness John Paul II…). Following this media success, 12 foundations were created in order to raise funds to contribute to the creation of a reserve in Rio Xingu region of the Amazon.
This mission was accomplished in 1993 with a decree signed by Brazilian President Itamar Franco, which formalized the 120,000 square kilometer Rio Xingu reserve adjacent to the 60,000 square kilometer Xingu National Park created by the Villas Boas brothers in the 1960s. Today, it is the largest Indian reserve in the world in tropical areas with a combined surface area of 180,000 square kilometers, that is a third of France. The great Xingu reserve is more than ever under threat, becoming the object of all desire in the middle of a landscape devastated by mining companies, dams and agribusiness.
On Monday, May 27th, the indigenous Chief Raoni was awarded by Laurent Attar-Bayrou – International President of the SPIA – of the Commemorative Peace Medal at the rank of Commander, for his commitment in the name of safeguarding the Amazonian forest.
Through its environmental program, the SPIA daily works on flow management in sensitive natural environments and in the restoration of coastal environments, particularly in the Mediterranean area. The NGO is recognized by the United Nations through its program’s director Mr. Martinez-Humayou, the World Bank and the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM).
SPIA also wishes to spread environmental sensitivity to the other NGOs. It has the desire to fight in a sustainable way for the environmental protection. It is urgent that humans are taking responsibility and are following the dynamics of inspiring people such as the Great Kayapo Raoni.
For this reason SPIA is committed from now on to the Amazonian cause alongside this emblematic international figure.