The Waorani people of the Amazon in Ecuador have renewed their vow to continue their fight to keep their ancestral land off limits for oil drilling, threatening to defend their jungle, spears and poisoned blowguns in hand, from oil companies and government plans to expand exploration areas for drilling in the rainforest.
Ecuador plans to auction land in the Amazon for oil concessions, hoping to revive oil exploration and production and boost government revenues amid a sluggish economy.
In the provincial capital Puyo, a judge is scheduled to rule on Friday if a legal challenge by the Waorani indigenous people against the government plans has merit, the AFP reports.
Earlier this year, the Waorani people filed a lawsuit against the Ecuadorian Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources, the Secretary of Hydrocarbons, and the Ministry of Environment, seeking to protect their lands from oil auctions.
Last year, Ecuador’s Minister of Hydrocarbons announced an auction of 16 new oil concessions covering nearly seven million acres of predominantly forest land in the territories of the Shuar, Achuar, Kichwa, Waorani, Shiwiar, Andoa, and Sápara nations.
“The region is home to some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet,” says campaign group Amazon Frontlines, which supports the Waorani lawsuit.
The lawsuit of the Waorani claims that their rights to free, prior, and informed consultation were violated because of an improper consultation process.
“Our fight is not just a fight about oil. This is a fight about different ways of living. One that protects life and one that destroys life,” says Nemonte Nenquimo, Waorani leader and President of CONCONAWEP (Coordinating Council of the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador-Pastaza).
“Our territory is not an oil block like the gov't sees it. Our territory is our life,” Waorani leader Oswando Nenquimo, says.
“This watershed case is of great importance for the physical and cultural survival of the Waorani people and neighboring indigenous nations, and for the protection of millions of acres of highly biodiverse rainforest earmarked for oil drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon,” Amazon Frontlines notes.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.