After a long dispute in the courts, the Waorani indigenous village of Pastaza has finally won a legal victory over their land.
THE Amazon rainforest home to numerous species of fauna and flora, it is internationally known for its spatial density and for the famous phrase “lungs of the world”. But in addition, we cannot forget that it is also home to several indigenous villages, who are currently having to fight for their land.
This is the case of Waorani Pastaza tribe, who has lived deep in the Ecuadorian rainforest for countless generations and ended up being threatened by a foreign oil company. The intention of this company was to buy the land and guarantee local exploitation, not taking into account the preservation of the indigenous village.
However, the Waorani took the case to court and ended up winning. The Provincial Court of Pastaza assured the permanence of half a million acres (two thousand square kilometers) in the hands of the indigenous village, in addition to barring any negotiations between the oil company and the government in the sale of these lands.
This initiative was a milestone for the other indigenous villages in the amazon, as the court has ceased all bidding and auction processes, which cover about 16 oil blocks under indigenous preservation areas. In other words, more than 7 million acres will continue to be home to several local tribes.
In an interview given to the reasons to believe, the president of the Waorani Pastaza Organization, an organization for the protection of Indian tribes, tells of his suspicions about the government: “The government tried to sell our land to the oil companies without our permission. Our rainforest is our life. We decide what happens on our lands. We will never sell our forest to the oil companies.”
Currently, there is a strong suspicion of government corruption that may be facilitating negotiations with oil companies. According to the Constitution of Ecuador, the indigenous lands must be preserved and prior consultation is necessary before exploring any underground resource, such as oil, due to the environmental impact.
But village states that the government may be accepting bribes to facilitate the companies' bidding processes. Therefore, the judges of the Provincial Court declared that it is necessary to maintain and monitor these laws, in which the rules established by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights must be respected.
With that, the indigenous villages they will not stop fighting for their rights, as the president of the Waorani Pastaza Organization adds: “Today, the courts have recognized that the Waorani people and all indigenous peoples have rights over our territories that must be respected. The government's oil interests are no more valuable than our rights, our forests, our lives.”
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