03 April 2019, The Tablet

Environmentalist and member of Catholic order found dead in Peru


McAuley had lived in Peru for more than 20 years helping indigenous tribes to stand up for their rights against powerful oil and mining interests


Environmentalist and member of Catholic order found dead in Peru

Paul McAuley
Photo: ©YouTube

A British religious and environmental activist has been found dead in Peru.

Paul McAuley, a lay member of the La Salle Christian Brothers, was found dead on 2 April at a youth hostel he had founded for indigenous students in the city of Iquitos, in the Loreto district.

Local media reported that the body had been burned.

McAuley, aged 71, had lived in Peru for more than 20 years helping indigenous tribes to stand up for their rights against powerful oil and mining interests.

Authorities are said to be questioning six indigenous youth who lived in the hostel he managed.

The Peruvian Episcopal Conference (CEP) said in a statement that it lamented the death of McAuley and offered its condolences to “Brother Visitor Jorge Aguilar, superior of the congregation in Peru and all the brothers of La Salle”.

The CEP also called on the authorities to “clarify the facts and find those responsible for this event”.

McAuley arrived in Peru in 1995 and, a few years later, was awarded an MBE for his work setting up a school in the poor Punta Piedra shanty in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

He travelled to the Peruvian Amazon in 2000 to help indigenous activists and set up a civil association, Red Ambiental Loretana.

He later moved to Iquitos, where, in 2004, he founded the Loreto Environmental Network, a group that works on behalf of indigenous groups. 

In July 2010, the Peruvian government tried to expel McAuley from the country accusing him of being engaged in activities that "put at risk the security of the state, public order and the national defence". McAuley is said to have opposed the Amazon being opened to drilling.

He told the BBC World Service at the time that he was not guilt of breaking any laws.

"Education is often accused of inciting people to understand their rights, to be capable of organising themselves to ensure their human rights.

"If that's a crime, then yes, I'm guilty. As a member of a Catholic order my life's been dedicated to human and Christian education."


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