Paul McCauley has devoted the past twenty years of his life working with indigenous people in Peru who inhabit areas around the Amazon river. He is a lay member of the De La Salle Christian Brothers order, but to the government of Peru, he is a terrorist who teaches people they have rights. Believe it or not, this “gringo agitator,” actually believes mining, logging and oil companies do not have the right to pollute rivers and destroy the lives of Indians who have lived in the area for over a thousand years. Peru President Alan Garcia has revoked McCauley’s resident permit on grounds he has “put at risk the security of the state, public order and the national defense.” Wow! Stand up for the rights of Indians who lack any rights or even the capacity to engage in violence and you become an agitator and terrorist.
There is something sad about what is happening to Indians in the Amazon region as their homes and forests give way to big business. In the United States of America guilt still lingers over what was done to Indians of North America, but to the government of Peru, the past belongs in the past, and the future means Indians have to find a new home. Money speaks, rights don’t.