Peru wants to expel rainforest activist missionary

Posted Jul 8, 2010 by Martin Laine
Calling him a ‘Tarzan agitator,’ Peruvian president Alan Garcia has revoked the residency permit of a British Catholic missionary, charging him with inciting unrest among the country’s indigenous people.
Photo of Amazon Region  Peru
A panoramic view of the amazone region of Peru
Priscilla D.
Paul Mcauley, known as Brother Paul, has won a temporary stay until his appeal can be heard.
The 62-year-old member of the De La Salle teaching order has lived in Peru for 20 years, working for the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin and for the protection of the region’s natural resources against exploitation by loggers, and oil and gas companies. He is the founder and director of the environmental organization Red Ambiental Loretana.
The indigenous tribes have long protested the access the Peruvian government has given to multinational corporations to the natural resources in their region without their or approval or any compensation.
His work has won him widespread recognition, including The Spanish Order Medal and prize. Queen Elizabeth has named him a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
A month ago, Brother Paul publicly denounced an oil spill that occurred in one of the Amazon’s rivers.
For President Garcia, who has recently eased restrictions on oil and gas companies, that seemed to be the last straw. The expulsion order was to have taken effect yesterday, but at the last minute a court in the Loreto region agreed to hear Mcauley’s appeal.
The government order said that his activities have “put at risk the security of the state, public order, and the national defense.”
Among those coming to Brother Paul’s defense is the actress Q’orianka Kilcher, a Quechua Indian and star of the 2005 film “New World.”
“Brother Paul has never advocated violence but has promoted education and negotiation as the way to enact social change,” according to her statement.
There have reportedly been protests over the deportation, and several indigenous women have offered to marry the lay missionary to enable him to stay in the country. His exact whereabouts are unknown. However, in a BBC telephone interview Brother Paul said he has not broken any laws.
“Education is often accused of inciting people to understand their rights, to be capable of organizing themselves to ensure their human right,” he said.