Indigenous groups in Ecuador have confronted the government and oil investors to demand justice. On Tuesday, Indigenous leaders and the regional pan-Amazon Indigenous organization protested outside Ecuador’s Annual Conference for Oil and Energy (ENAEP). In response to the Amazon oil spill on Jan. 28, the group called on officials to help those affected and end new drilling projects.

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“The impact of this spill has left the Amazon in a critical situation. We want territories free of resource extraction. It has caused so much damage to our territories, it is killing people. We call for climate justice,” Nemo Andy Guiquita, a Waorani Indigenous leader and Coordinator of Women and Health for CONFENIAE, said.

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ENAEP is the Ecuadorian government’s effort to attract oil investments. The government plans to double oil production by expanding extraction and exploring new territories. Indigenous groups strongly oppose this endeavor. The government has advanced its explorations into Indigenous territories and the Amazon rainforest, areas protected by law. Biodiversity hotspots such as the Yasuní National Park have not been spared either.

The Jan. 28 oil spill loomed over Tuesday’s conference. After the OCP pipeline burst and spilled crude oil into Coca Cayambe National Park, rivers turned black from pollution. The oil reached the Coca River, affecting the primary water source for thousands of Kichwa Indigenous people downstream.

“We are here, again. Behind these walls are people who think there is no life,” Gregorio Mirabal, Executive Coordinator of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), told reporters. “It hasn’t even been 100 days since COP26, where all the presidents promised to defend the rights of nature and human rights. And yet, here they are, already negotiating our rights. Right now our rights are under negotiation and the rights of our children are at stake!”

Sources report that no speakers at ENAEP acknowledged the recent oil spill. In response to continued oil projects, Leonidas Iza, Executive Coordinator of Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), said, “As long as collective rights and consent are not respected, there is a liability. We tell international investors that do not respect our communities that we have in fact won and secured several legal cases against the oil industry.” Iza added, “About the oil spill – the government did not guarantee our rights. We call on the president to respect his own words and the agreements signed with environmental groups before he became president.”

Via Amazon Watch

Lead image via Ceibo Alliance