Ecuador's Amazonian communities are demanding the state honor its commitment to protect ancestral Indigenous lands from fracking companies.
The Union of People Affected by the Oil Operations of Texaco (now Chevron), composed of six native Ecuadorean groups, arrived at the Constitutional Court in Quito on Tuesday in pursuit of the agreed US$9.5 million compensation as well as respect for justice and human rights.
The Amazon rainforest and rivers have suffered since 16 billion gallons of hydrocarbon spilled from the Chevron drilling zones. Community members are still experiencing the effects of the toxic waste, and at least one person died as a result.
Attorneys for the U.S.-based company requested the hearing be suspended, saying the Council of Citizen Participation and Transitory Social Control (CPCCS-T) would be an impartial jury for the case.
However, the defense attorney for the Indigenous community, Pablo Fajardo, countered their complaints, asking the judges to defend human rights and order Chevron to repair the social and environmental damage it caused.
Alex Susizante, spokesman of the Ai Cofan, said agreements are being made without consulting community elders: "Since January - February, mining concessions have been made in regards to... the Aguarico River, one of the most important rivers in the province of Succumbios."
Members of the Waoranis, Siona and Ai Cofan groups, among other native communities, arrived at the Ombudsman's Office on Monday, requesting justice and payment of the agreed compensation.
In an interview with teleSUR, Waorani community member Tomas alleged that Indigenous people will never surrender the fight for environmental rights: "The territory is not for sale, nor will we ever allow entry to harm our territory because the river is our home."
Indigenous community lawyer Maria Espinoza told teleSUR correspondent Denisse Herrera: "All these mining and oil activities put at serious risk the ways of life, the physical and cultural survival of these peoples and represent not only fundamental threats to their territory, ecosystem and environment, but also to their dignity."
Ecuador's Constitutional Court is due to announce its decision by May 25. According to the court, Chevron-Texaco spilled millions of untreated oil into Ecuador's jungle floor while fracking between 1964 and 1992.