On February 27, hundreds of Indigenous Waorani elders, youth and leaders arrived in the city of Puyo, Ecuador.
They left their homes deep in the Amazon rainforest to peacefully march through the streets, hold banners, sing songs and, most importantly, submit documents to the provincial Judicial Council to launch a lawsuit seeking to stop the government from auctioning off their ancestral lands in the Pastaza region to oil companies.
An eastern jungle province whose eponymous river is one of the more than 1,000 tributaries that feed the mighty Amazon, Pastaza encompasses some of the world’s most biodiverse regions.
The ruling was brought by three-judge panel of the Pastaza Provincial Court.
Spokesperson for the Waorani of Pastaza, Oswando Nenquimo, said they protected their forest from oil drilling and their water from contamination. The children are now safe from sickness, but the war is far from over. The government will probably appeal, because they still want the oil.
Waorani leader Nemonte Nenquimo talked to The New Yorker, and said the court recognized that the government had violated their right to live free and make their decision about their territory. He believes they have the right to protect their surrounding.
This is a positive change, and hopefully it will trigger even greater changes. We deserve to live a better life without the destructive power of major industries. Our planet deserves our attention and respect. The Waorani are fighting their battle, and we have to fight ours.