Role of natives – Their weapons are knowledge and tenacity

Role of natives – Their weapons are knowledge and tenacity

Role of natives – Their weapons are knowledge and tenacity.
This was shown by members of the Waorani tribe who have been on a warpath with the Ecuadorian government for years. Ecuador has parceled out much of its oil-rich forests. In order to patch budget holes, he decided to sell mining concessions to foreign companies.

When their land became part of one of the parcels, and the mandatory consultations seemed frontal, the Waorani sued the Ecuadorian government. They came to trials 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 an area covering 180,000 hectares. ha. Because the plaintiffs make it clear that even with proper consultation, they will not agree to the decision to exploit their land. The lawsuit itself helped to strengthen and consolidate the strategy of the indigenous movement in the region.

Alicia Cawiya – vice-president of Waorani people

In 2013, the Ecuadorian government announced plans to build oil production and exploitation infrastructure in the Yasuni area. Alicia Cawiya, vice president of Ecuador’s Waorani people, was invited to a session of parliament. She was to give a speech approving oil drilling plans on her native land. However, Cawiya spoke in her own words – first in Waorani and then in Spanish.

Defending land rights, she spoke of the negative impact of oil production on the Amazon and accused many officials of being indifferent to deforestation. Although the government’s plans were approved, the vice president won many allies. After the speech, she also received threats, but she did not stop working for her community. Currently, she is the president of the Ecuadorian women’s association of the Amazon.

Nemonte Nenquimo – leader of Waorani people

“Without free decisions about their land, our people will not survive,” explained Nemonte Nenquimo, the leader of the Waorani, after the verdict was announced. “And if our people disappear, our planet disappears.” Nenquimo’s words are meant to be taken literally. By caring for their land, the Waorani and other tribes are doing the rest of the world a favor.

According to data from March 2020, the Amazon forests store as much as 250 billion tons of carbon, while generating over 20% of the world’s oxygen. After a court banned mining operations in the Waorani lands, Nenquimo rose to prominence and appeared on the cover of Time magazine. As one of the “100 Most Influential People”.

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