Photo: Mitch Anderson/Amazon FrontlinesPhoto: Mitch Anderson/Amazon Frontlines

Ecuador: Indigenous tribe successful in protecting their land from ‘oil exploration’

The Waorani people, an indigenous community native to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador have been able to successfully protect their land from possible ‘oil drilling’.

The legal battle, a landmark case was being fought between the Waorani people and three Ecuadorian government bodies (Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources, Secretary of Hydrocarbons and the Ministry of Environment). Although the government bodies consulted the tribe before putting up their land for auction, the Waorani people claimed the government bodies had conducted a faulty consultation process.  with the community before putting up their territory up for sale in an international oil auction. The Waorani people said the consultation process in 2012 was largely used as a way to promote oil extraction, rather than warn communities of its environmental effects. They felt cheated because there were no real dialogue with the communities, not enough prior notice, and not enough translations to the local Waorani language. They claimed they were presented the entire picture. However, once they learnt about the impacts of oil-drilling, the Waorani people, fearing the loss of their homes, sued the three government bodies.

In a landmark victory to the Waorani people and a major motivation to other indigenous communities trying to protect their land from commercial encroachment, the Ecuadorian court suspended any possibility of selling the community’s land for oil exploration on Friday, April 26, 2019.

For the Waorani people, the forest is their home. To them, the outside world is unsafe and as many as five communities of the same tribe have rejected all contact with the outside world and continue to move into more isolated areas of the jungle. To them, the encroachment of their land would mean a disruption in their daily lives – the start of the community’s end.

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