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  • “In Ecuador, extraction is the worst enemy of the Amazon peoples and nationalities,”  said the Confeniae leader.

    “In Ecuador, extraction is the worst enemy of the Amazon peoples and nationalities,” said the Confeniae leader. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 September 2019

The protest on Wednesday was conducted before the Environment Ministry and on Thursday the demonstrators will show up in front of the Comptroller’s Office and the Constitutional Court in the Ecuadorean capital.

Representatives of Ecuador’s Indigenous peoples staged on Wednesday a sit-in before the National Assembly's building in Quito, demanding the government of President Lenin Moreno to enforce local and international legislation protecting their rights and the country’s environment.

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In traditional Indigenous attire and painted faces, dozens of people–most of them from the Waorani tribe that lives in the Amazon region–participated in the demonstration, chanting slogans in their native languages “in defense of (their) land.”

“We reaffirm, once again, our position as nations of the Ecuadorean Amazon region, our struggle and, our total rejection of the Brazilian government,” said the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Confeniae), Marlon Vargas, to EFE, referring to the Jair Bolsonaro administration that has fueled the physical and political flames that engulf Brazil's Amazon forest.

President of the Confeniae, which represents 11 Amazon nationalities, said that the Brazilian government “speaks about the fire (in that country), but it doesn’t say how many peoples and nationalities are being affected in that territory and doesn’t make visible what it happening (there).”

Vargas referred to judicial rulings in favor of Indigenous peoples in Ecuador’s rainforest region, including the ruling last April by a provincial court in Pastaza located within Ecuador's Amazon, to protect parts of the province against oil drilling there. The petition was also brought forth by the Waorani people. The ruling abided to national and international policies that require Indigenous communities to be consulted on such land matters.

“In Ecuador, extraction is the worst enemy of the Amazon peoples and nationalities,” said Vargas, citing another large-scale mining case that threatens Indigenous communities in Zamora Chinchipe province.

Meanwhile, the president of the Waorani Nationality Coordination Council of Ecuador (Conconawep), Nemonte Nenquimo, demanded that the authorities comply with the court ruling and called on lawmakers to carry out their duties of monitoring the government.

“We’re going to be prepared and united with other Amazon nationalities in a single fist to demonstrate to the world that we must be respected,” said Nenquimo, adding that “our lives and those of our children depend on the Amazon.”

The gathering comes a day after the arrest of a judge accused of extortion, influence peddling and taking bribes in Pastaza, who had denied a motion by the Indigenous community to block the construction of a hydroelectric plant.

Judge Aurelio Quito was denounced by a colleague and is said to have taken money from the dams construction firm in exchange for issuing favorable decisions. According to preliminary reports he received US$40,000 in cash for the rulings.

Christian Aguinda, the president of a Kichwa community in Santa Clara, which includes 22 communities in Pastaza, said that "the construction of the hydroelectric plant on the Piatua River would transfer 90 percent of its water to another river, ignoring the fact that communities and international laws exist” against such actions.

He also expressed his concern about the arrest of the judge, asking: “What moral character are judges using to dispense justice regarding our communities?”

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