Historic Victory for Indigenous Rights: Take Action

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Brick by Brick, Battle by Battle

Indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin, where pervasive resource extraction has accelerated the spread of COVID-19, are calling for nine countries to apply a moratorium on extractive activities to stop the "ecocide, ethnicide and terricide,” as was declared at the first World Assembly for the Amazon in July. According to the Pan-American Health Organization, the virus has infected at least 20,000 Indigenous people in the Amazon. Indigenous communities are the first line of defense for the Amazon rainforest, and we all depend on their efforts to protect it. In Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname, Indigenous nations are working together to confront an immense array of threats caused by unconstrained extraction in their territories— toxic contamination, raging fires, loss of territory and biodiversity, climate change, and, now, infection.

The fight for a moratorium on extraction will not be won from the top down; Indigenous peoples can’t wait for governments to mandate an end to all extraction on their lands. Instead, Indigenous communities are launching and winning unprecedented legal and political battles to guard their rights and territories, amounting to millions of acres of Amazon rainforest saved and our global climate protected. You can see the power of the Indigenous movement in recent groundbreaking wins across the world— from the victory at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline to the Waorani victory against oil drilling in the Pastaza region of Ecuador. However, governments and corporations are continuing to exploit the world’s resources at alarming rates with great risk to Indigenous peoples.

Help us win an Amazon-wide moratorium on extraction from the ground up, brick by brick, until the governments of the region are forced to heed the wisdom of Indigenous peoples and usher in a new era rooted in their vision for a safer, healthier, and more sustainable world.

An Oil Spill In The Amazon In The Time of Coronavirus

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Voices from the Frontlines

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In Ecuador, the death toll from coronavirus is already among the worst in the world, but in the indigenous Amazon, there is heightened risk of infection due to lack of infrastructure, testing and access to basic supplies. Now, the biggest oil spill to occur in more than a decade, has created a crisis within a crisis for Ecuador’s indigenous population in the Amazon.

The oil spill occured on April 7, 2020, due to the rupture of the Trans-Ecuadorian Oil Pipeline System (SOTE) and the Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline (OCP). It affects approximately 118,617 people, belonging to 22 rural parishes along the banks of the Coca and Napo rivers, along with more communities downriver in Peru . Hundreds of indigenous communities are facing food scarcity as they relied on these rivers for food and fresh water, and COVID-19 national lockdown has cut off options for outside provisions. The government’s response has been woefully inadequate and lacking transparency.

This was an entirely avoidable catastrophe. The Ecuadorian government was warned by scientists and experts that this could happen, but no action was taken to decrease the likelihood of a pipeline rupture. In response, Amazon Frontlines, along with the Ecuadorian Alliance for Human Rights, Ecuadorian Amazon’s regional indigenous organization CONFENIAE, regional Kichwa peoples’ indigenous federation FCUNAE, and several affected indigenous families, has filed a lawsuit demanding the government and oil companies carry out urgent environmental remediation, provide remedies for affected peoples, and repair or relocate the pipelines to avoid future spills.

This oil spill and the government’s poor response violates indigenous peoples constitutional rights to territory, health, information, water and food sovereignty, a clean and ecologically balanced environment, and the rights of nature. Sadly, there is a long history of indigenous rights violations and forest destruction due to Ecuador’s fast and cheap oil production. We must show the Ecuadorian government and oil companies that the global community demands justice!

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