Natives role – Weapons are knowledge and tenacity
Natives role – Weapons are knowledge and tenacity. They showed it, among others members of the Waorani tribe who have been on the warpath with the Ecuadorian government for years. Ecuador has plots of large parts of its oil-rich forests. In order to patch the budget holes, decided to sell mining concessions to foreign companies.
When their land became part of one of the plots, and the mandatory consultation looked like a facade, Waorani brought the Ecuadorian government to trial. They came to hearings with spears, and they interrupted the hearing, which took place without a certified interpreter, with a traditional song. The verdict in favor of the tribe was made in April 2019. – This verdict blocked the possibility of oil extraction in the area covering 180 thousand. ha. For the respondents make it clear that even with proper consultation, they will not agree to the decision to exploit their land. The trial itself has helped to strengthen and consolidate the strategy of the indigenous community movement in the region.
Alicia Cawiya – Vice-president of the people of Waorani
In 2013, the Ecuadorian government announced plans to build an oil production and exploitation infrastructure in the Yasuni area. Alicia Cawiya, vice-president of the Ecuadorian people of Waorani, was invited to a parliamentary session. She was to give a speech approving plans to drill oil on her home soil. Cawiya, however, spoke in her own words – first in Waorani, then in Spanish. While defending land rights, she spoke of the negative impact of oil production on the Amazon and accused many officials of indifference over deforestation. Although the government’s plans were approved, the vice president won many allies. She also received threats after speaking, but continued to work for her community. Currently, she is the president of the Ecuadorian Amazon women association.
Nemonte Nenquimo – Leader of the people of Waorani
“Our people will not survive without free decisions about their land,” said Waorani’s leader after the verdict of Nemonte Nenquimo was announced. “And if our people disappear, our planet will disappear.” The words of Nenquimo should be taken literally. The Waorani and other tribes are doing the rest of the world a favor by caring for their land. According to data from March 2020, the Amazonian forests store as much as 250 billion tons of carbon, generating more than 20% of the world’s oxygen. After a court shut down mining operations in the Waorani lands, Nenquimo became recognizable and appeared on the cover of Time magazine. As one of the “100 Most Influential People”.