Ecuador – Born Among Oil, Jungle and Development, 2021
In the Amazon, the Coca region is the entry point to the Ecuadorian forest and the Waorani lands, one of the thirteen indigenous peoples recognized by Ecuador. This people is today seriously threatened by the increased oil exploitation which is causing deforestation, the creation of oil storage pools and massive pollution of the water, lands and air in their territory.
The jeopardization of this indigenous people and the biodiversity on which they live is the tragic consequence of the intensification of the oil industry in Ecuador, which currently accounts for about a third of the public sector’s revenues and is the main export product with $7.731 billion in 2019. In a country so heavily economically dependent on “black gold,” the political response to the environmental threat to the Amazon and its inhabitants remains unclear and uncertain.
A conflict situation that has been going on for decades and is present again after the recent oil spills and the Amazon Watch’s report.
The rather underreported crisis that has occurred in the northern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, in the past 2 years has been monitored by UDABT (Union of those affected by the oil operations of Texaco) which concluded that out of 5,000 respondents, 251 are victims of cancer diagnosed by a specialist doctor.
Living with the forest and its resources, the Waorani people are facing the threat of oil extraction, and seeing the rivers of their territory contaminated by successive oil spills. Witnessing the disappearance of most of their lands and ecosystems, they are engaged in a struggle to maintain their traditions and way of life, going so far as to file a complaint against PetroOriental.
Weya Cahuiya, a Waorani activist from Ñuneno village testifies: “We call on governments to respect our territory but they never paid attention to us and attack us. Let us live as we want, let us manage our territory. In the last spill, the river went black and our animals died, dogs, tapirs, chickens and fish died. The plants, bananas, yucca, all dead. We are not complaining about other parts of the country, we are outraged by what is happening in our home.”
Despite the emergency reality on the ground, the lack of presence of the State and non-governmental organizations creates a frightening scenario of powerlessness.