Amazon tribe wins first victory against oil companies

Published April 28, 2019
members of the Waorani community at the beginning of their hearing at a court in Puyo, Ecuador, on Friday.—AFP
members of the Waorani community at the beginning of their hearing at a court in Puyo, Ecuador, on Friday.—AFP

PUYO: Ecuador’s Waorani indigenous tribe won their first victory on Friday against big oil companies in a ruling that blocks the companies’ entry onto ancestral Amazonian lands for oil exploration activities.

After two weeks of deliberations, a criminal court in Puyo, central Ecuador, accepted a Waorani bid for court protection in Pastaza province to stop an oil bidding process after the government moved to open up around 180,000 hectares for exploration.

The lands are protected under Ecuador’s constitution that establishes the “inalienable, unseizable and indivisible” rights of indigenous people “to maintain possession of their ancestral lands and obtain their free adjudication.” Crucially, however, the wealth in the subsoil is owned by the state.

The constitution also enshrines the need for prior consultation on any plans to exploit the underground resources, given the probable environmental and cultural impacts on tribal communities.

The state reached an agreement with the Waorani over oil exploration in 2012, but the tribe’s leaders say they were duped.

The judges ordered the government to conduct a new consultation, applying standards set by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San Jose.

The ruling “has created a significant pre­cedent for the Amazon,” said Lina Maria Espi­­nosa, attorney for the plaintiffs, outside court.

“It has been demonstrated that there was no consultation and that the state violated the rights of this people, and therefore of other peoples.” The Waorani, who number around 4,800, also inhabit other Amazonian provinces.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2019

Opinion

Editorial

Warming ties
05 Jul, 2022

Warming ties

BILATERAL ties with the US are clearly on the mend after an extensive rough patch under the PTI government. While ...
LNG emergency
Updated 05 Jul, 2022

LNG emergency

The problem is that Pakistan does not have sufficient cash at the moment to buy even a single LNG cargo at present prices.
The invisible half
05 Jul, 2022

The invisible half

WHAT better illustrates the Afghan Taliban’s misogynistic and mediaeval worldview than the fact that not a single...
Wise counsel
Updated 04 Jul, 2022

Wise counsel

Fuelling the fires of communalism for petty political gains is dangerous and can have a long-lasting impact on India’s stability.
Hazardous waste
04 Jul, 2022

Hazardous waste

GIVEN we have not yet developed streamlined systems for managing locally produced hazardous waste, we are inviting...
Mob ‘justice’
04 Jul, 2022

Mob ‘justice’

OVER the past few days, a string of deadly incidents has been reported from Karachi in which enraged mobs have...