Peru: Government Expels Paul McAuley, Religious Environmental Activist

This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon.

On Friday 2 of this month, the news broke that “The British religious Paul McAuley, president of the Environmental Network of Loreto (RAL) today received a resolution from the Ministry of Interior (MININTER) reporting the termination of his residence in our country, “as reported [es] by the website of Radio Oriente. According to a Police Intelligence report [es], the virtual expulsion was based on the fact that “since 2006 to date, he has actively participated in various public events with a political nuance, such as participating in marches through different streets of the city Iquitos in the company of union groups and advocacy organizations who defend Amazonian native communities.”

Paul McAuley in a march defending the environment in Iquitos, Perú. Image by Juan Arellano.

“Brother Paul,” as he is widely known in Iquitos because of his work defending indigenous communities and the environment of the Amazon jungle, had been threatened some time ago with this measure, which of course was rejected in several areas and especially in Iquitos [es], where members of native communities held [es] a rally today in front of the Higher Court of Loreto in that city. Earlier, the Organization of Indigenous Students in the Peruvian Amazon (OEPIAP), had reported [es] they would march and protest. Even the Awajún indigenous people from the Datem province of Maranhao offered [es] him refuge in their territory.

But several official spokesmen have, obviously, supported the decision. Like Premier Javier Velazquez who declared [es] that “foreigners living in Peru are restricted in participating in political activities.” Former Justice Minister Aurelio Pastor also expressed [es] support because from his point of view: “They (the priests) do political work that is not merely pastoral, because they organize and raise populations.”

Paco Bardales from the blog Diario de IQT cronicles [es] the work of “Brother Paul”:

Paul Mc Auley vive dos décadas en el Perú … Ha seguido de cerca el caso de los temas de contaminación petrolera en el río Corrientes, del caso de Andoas … Precisamente por su posición decidida, Mc Auley ha sido constantemente satanizado por diversos intereses de poder. Uno de ellos fue el del alcalde de Maynas, Salomón Abensur, quien no dudó en tildarlo de “terrorista blanco” cuando Mc Auley y un colectivo de personas se opusieron a la  instalación del botadero municipal de Iquitos en la zona de amortiguamiento de la Reserva Nacional Allpahuayo Mishana … El atestado para expulsar a Mc Auley del Perú está vigente desde el año pasado, pero los intentos por expulsarlo desde el gobierno vienen desde el año 2008 (aunque los intentos de amedrentamiento contra su persona vienen desde el 2006)

Paul Mc Auley spent two decades living in Peru … He has closely followed the oil pollution issues in the Corrientes River, in the case of Andoas … Precisely because of his strong position, McAuley has been constantly demonized by various interests from those in power. One of them was the mayor of Maynas, Solomón Abensur, who did not hesitate to label him a “white terrorist” [es] when McAuley and a group of people opposed the installation of the municipal dump of Iquitos in the buffer zone of the National Reserve Allpahuayo Mishana … A testimonial in favor of driving McAuley out of Peru is in force since last year, but attempts to remove him coming from the government have been present since 2008 (although the attempts of intimidation against him are from 2006 [es])
Omar from the blog X3dente reflects [es]:

Si encontramos a una persona que se preocupa por:

  • Defender los derechos, de los peruanos de tierras no contactadas (como ahora se les dice).
  • Defender a la amazonía peruana como si fuera la suya.
  • Defender los DD.HH, además que se identifica con plenamente con los atropellos que se le da a la Selva.
  • Que creó la Red Ambiental Loretana, que promueve un Responsable manejo de la amazonía para el mundo.

¿Qué haríamos con esa persona?, ¿la respetaríamos?, ¿estaríamos a favor, o en contra de sus acciones?. Al parecer, al actual gobierno no le gusta que otras personas hagan lo que se supone ellos deberían hacer, y no encontraron mejor solución que expulsar a dicho usurpador de sus funciones.

If we find a person who cares about:

  • Defending the rights of Peruvians in uncontacted Peruvian land (as they are now called).
  • Defending the Peruvian Amazon like it were his own.
  • Defending human rights, and also fully identifying with the abuse suffered by the Jungle.
  • Who created Loretana Environmental Network, which promotes responsible management of the Amazon to the world.

What would we do with that person? Would we respect him? Would we be in favor or against his actions? Apparently, the current government does not like other people doing what they are supposed to do as a government, and they couldn’t find a better solution than expelling the usurper of their duties.

Silvio Rendón from the blog Gran Combo Club looks at [es] some reasons for the expulsion:

El gobierno ha aprovechado el clima de miedo por un supuesto rebrote senderista para expulsar a un sacerdote británico, Paul McAuley, en Iquitos, … Ahora vemos que otros sacerdotes ambientalistas también son acusados y podrían ser expulsados del Perú, aquí. … Así es la cosa en el segundo alanato: una expeditiva Sanción para los Defensores del Medio Ambiente, y que las extractivas contaminantes pasen piola.

The government has used the climate of fear of a suspected senderista [Shinning Path] outbreak to expel a British priest, Paul McAuley, in Iquitos, … Now we see that other environmentalist priests are also accused and could be expelled from Peru, here [es]. … That's what it’s like in Alan Garcia’s second term: an expeditious Sanction for Environmental Advocates [es], and the polluting extractions ignored.

To see brother Paul for yourself, you can see an interview he did last year. As it is a bit long, it was divided into four parts and can be found here [es]here [es]here [es] and here [es]. In this other video by The Guardian, titled Blood Spilled in the Amazon Jungle: Andoas, Napo and Bagua (in English, subtitled in Spanish) you can also learn about him and his work. There is a support group on Facebook: Yo tampoco quiero que el Hno. Paul Mc. Auley sea expulsado del Perú [es] (I do not want Brother Paul Mc. Auley to be expelled from Peru), and an event that is calling people to perform a sit-in protest in Lima: ¡Basta ya! – Rechazamos deportación de hno. Paul Mc. Aulley [es] (Enough! – We reject the deportation of Bro.Paul Mc. Aulley).

Finally, the latest news are that on July 5 Paul McAuley's brother had rejected [es] the accusations and announced [es] he would appeal the expulsion order. The next day, via Twitter it was said [es] that the judiciary would have admitted the filed Habeas Corpus. Also, that two British television networks have sent [es] reporters to Iquitos to give first-hand information from there. Photos of today's march showing support for McAuley in Iquitos can be found here, hereherehere. We'll see how events unfold in the coming days.

This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon.

The image of Paul Mc Auley belongs to Juan Arellano and is part of this post.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.