The Latest: Pope urged to help protect Amazon rainforest

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The Latest: Pope urged to help protect Amazon rainforest
The Latest: Pope urged to help protect Amazon rainforest

PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru (AP) – The Latest on Pope Francis’ visit to Peru (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

Amazonian indigenous leaders in Peru are urging Pope Francis to help them protect the world’s largest rainforest from an onslaught of new threats that are dramatically changing the biome.

One of the leaders is Hector Sueyo. He tells Pope Francis that native peoples are worried about the Amazon as trees disappear, fish die and rivers become contaminated.

Sueyo said Friday that “the sky is angry and is crying because we are destroying the planet.”

Francis has previously spoken about the need to protect the Amazon, which he likens to one of the “lungs of our planet.”

Thousands of indigenous men, women and children, many bare-chested and wearing brightly-colored headdresses are gathered in a coliseum to hear Francis speak.

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10:45 a.m.

Pope Francis is receiving a warm welcome in the Peruvian Amazon city of Puerto Maldonado, with supporters lining the streets to greet him ahead of the pontiff’s planned meeting with indigenous people.

Some are running up along the pontiff’s motorcade carrying Vatican-colored yellow and white balloons, while others cheer and wave.

Friday’s scene is a stark contrast to the pope’s visit earlier this week to Chile, where he drew smaller crowds and his presence provoked protests.

Indigenous leaders are hoping the pope will deliver a forceful message encouraging the government to recognize their land rights and clean up rivers contaminated by illegal mining.

Francis has previously spoken about the need to protect the Amazon.

A boys holds a poster of Pope Francis as he waits for the arrival of Pope Francis in Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios province, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. Francis is expected to meet with several thousand indigenous people gathering in a coliseum in Puerto Maldonado, the city considered a gateway to the Amazon, in the first full day of the pontiff’s visit to Peru. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
A bishop takes a photo of an indigenous man and baby as they wait for the arrival of Pope Francis in Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios province, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. After lengthy treks through the muddy Amazon, indigenous men, women and children will greet Francis Friday in a visit to the world’s largest rainforest that native leaders hope will mark a turning point for the increasingly threatened ecosystem.(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
A priest holds a baby as clergy and indigenous people wait for the arrival of Pope Francis in Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios province, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. Francis is expected to meet with several thousand indigenous people gathering in a coliseum in Puerto Maldonado, the city considered a gateway to the Amazon, in the first full day of the pontiff’s visit to Peru. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
A group of indigenous wait for the arrival of Pope Francis in Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios province, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. After lengthy treks through the muddy Amazon, indigenous men, women and children will greet Francis Friday in a visit to the world’s largest rainforest that native leaders hope will mark a turning point for the increasingly threatened ecosystem.(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Pope Francis delivers his blessing to faithful from the balcony of the Apostolic Nuncio in Lima, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. (L’Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
A woman holds a poster showing Pope Francis as she waits for the arrival of Pope Francis in Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios province, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. Francis is expected to meet with several thousand indigenous people gathering in a coliseum in Puerto Maldonado, the city considered a gateway to the Amazon, in the first full day of the pontiff’s visit to Peru. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Pope Francis waves to faithful from the balcony of the Apostolic Nuncio in Lima, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. (L’Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
A vendor hawks souvenir crosses featuring an image of Pope Francis as faithful gather outside the Apostolic Nunciature to get a glimpse of the pontiff, in Lima, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. Francis is expected to meet with several thousand indigenous people gathering in a coliseum in Puerto Maldonado, the city considered a gateway to the Amazon, in the first full day of the pontiff’s visit to Peru. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Pope Francis blesses a child outside the Apostolic Nuncio in Lima, Peru, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. (L’Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP)
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