A tiny tribe living in the Amazon has been fighting the Ecuadorian government’s plans to drill oil across millions of acres of rainforest. Amazingly, they have won in a truly historic lawsuit.
It all started when the government of Ecuador announced its intention to drill for oil through seven million acres of land in the Amazon. However, the plan was immediately countered by the Waorani people of Pastaza, who filed a lawsuit preventing such action. The court eventually ruled in favor of the 16 Waorani communities who make their living inside the Ecuadorian rainforest.
Nemonte Nenquimo leads the Waorani people as they march in protest.
It’s a truly astounding David vs Goliath story. The Waorani people are known for being hunter-gatherers who have lived their entire lives in the rainforest. Nevertheless, they stood their ground in an effort to preserve their home and their culture.
Nemonte Nenquimo, a Waorani leader, proudly spoke about their victory.
“The court recognized that the government violated our right to live free, and make our own decisions about our territory and self-determination,” she said. “Our territory is our decision, and now, since we are owners, we are not going to let oil enter and destroy our natural surroundings and kill our culture.”
The Waorani made sure they were heard outside the courthouse in Puyo.
Mitch Anderson, Executive Director of Amazon Frontlines, released a statement following the court ruling.
“This is a major precedent for indigenous rights across the Amazon. Today, the court has recognized a pattern of deceit, bad-faith and manipulative tactics in the Ecuadorian Government’s attempt to earmark the Waorani people’s lands for oil extraction. This is a huge step forward in the battle to ensure indigenous people’s rights over their lands are respected. Guaranteeing indigenous peoples’ rights to decide over their future and to say ‘No’ to destructive extractive projects is key to protecting the Amazon rainforest and halting climate change.”
In addition to putting a stop to the government-sanctioned drilling, the ruling also prevents a planned auctioning seven million additional acres of land. These lands would have gone to private companies who are also interested in setting up oil exploration operations.
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