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  • The global campaign #WaoraniResistance aims to stop Ecuador’s government from selling “ancestral territory” to oil drilling companies.

    The global campaign #WaoraniResistance aims to stop Ecuador’s government from selling “ancestral territory” to oil drilling companies. | Photo: Amazon Frontlines

Published 26 June 2019

On Monday over fifty Waorani leaders and community members delivered the signatures of 122,471 people to right-wing President Lenin Moreno’s government.

Ecuador’s Indigenous Waorani people are launching the global campaign “Waorani Resistance” on Thursday to get 500,000 people (one for every acre they are protecting) to sign a declaration defending the “lungs of the earth.”

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Ecuador's Indigenous Win Landmark Case Against Drilling

“The Waorani defend the forest because it gives life to our people but it also gives life to the world. And that’s why we are asking the world to stand with us. Together we must save the lungs of the earth from oil drilling,”  President of the Waorani of Pastaza Nemonte Nenquimo said.

On Monday over fifty Waorani leaders and community members delivered the signatures of 122,471 people who have already supported the Indigenous people’s urgent declaration, to right-wing President Lenin Moreno’s government.

This comes as Moreno’s administration is planning to sell off seven million acres of rainforest territory, some of the most biodiverse on the planet, to the international oil industry. As non-governmental organization Amazon Frontlines, explains, if exploited, 70 percent of the oil would be shipped up to refineries in California, and eventually pumped at gas stations across the United States.

As part of an ongoing battle to protect their homeland, on April 26, the Amazonian community obtained a significant legal victory as a provincial court in Pastaza ruled that the government had violated their rights, in a lawsuit, interposed by 16 communities, against Ecuador’s government for trying to auction off Waorani territory for oil drilling operations without their consent.

An appeal hearing, propelled by the government, is expected on July 1.

The Waorani said they thought they had reached an accord with Moreno’s administration to limit oil drilling on their land last year. At that time all sides agreed the government would auction off only two or the originally proposed 16 land blocks within the Amazon that overlap with large swaths of their virgin “ancestral territories” to potential oil companies.

However, by October 2018, the Ministry of Hydrocarbons suddenly announced that significant portions of Waorani land (Bloc 22) would potentially be auctioned off in a future round of sales or handed directly over to the state (oil) company Petroamazonas all without consulting them. This comprehends Waorani Pastaza’s homeland, spanning nearly 500,000 acres.

“Our territory gives us life. We will not allow oil-drilling to poison our creeks and our fishing holes. Our forest homeland is not an oil block, it is our life,” the Waorani petition reads.

According to Amazon Frontlines, just one acre of the Amazon provides oxygen for 18 people to breathe during an entire year, meaning the Waorani land at stake provides air for 9,000,000 people.

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