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Ecuador Indigenous: Sarayaku Tribe Wins a Victory

Amnesty International and the Sarayaku indigenous people have won a major victory against the unauthorized encroachment on their communal land and endangerment to their way of life perpetrated by an oil company.  Their odyssey has taken members of the tribe as far away as Washington D.C. and Costa Rica, as they have done their best to explain their story to the world.

This small tribe of natives says that they have made the land, “our ancestral home . . . since time immemorial,” according to a documentary of their struggle.  They live deep in the Amazon jungles of Ecuador and sought help from a Colombian court when their land was invaded a decade ago for oil exploration.


In 2002 the Ecuadorian government gave permission for an oil company to explore the Sarayaku homeland for oil.  The Sarayaku were never consulted by either entity.

The IACHR (Inter-American Court of Human Rights) held that the country of Ecuador was responsible for endangering the property rights of the people and for harming their way of life and culture.  Their attorney, Mario Melo, called the victory, “a milestone in the ongoing struggle of Indigenous Peoples to reclaim their rights.”

**This is another victory for the indigenous of Ecuador. (See more at the end of this blog.)

Ecuador has accepted this responsibility and will honor the ruling.  Further, Ecuador is called upon to consult with other tribes whose land would be involved in such international dealings, following the fair guidelines established by the IACHR.  These guidelines would foster transparency and more respect among those populations affected.


“After this ruling, no country on the continent can deny it has an obligation to carry out an appropriate and participative consultation process with Indigenous Peoples, according to their own cultural practices” said Fernanda Doz Costa. She is the researcher on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Americas for Amnesty International.

The Sarayaku have documented the struggle to preserve their human and property rights.  The film was co-produced with Amnesty International and is entitled, “Children of the Jaguar.”

See this webpage for the correct means of copying, transmitting or distributing this video.

One of their victories involves the removal of explosives buried on their ancestral lands.  The printed documentary introduction states the amount at 1.4 tons of explosives while the article mentioned here refers to 1400 kgs.  A huge difference!


Much of the information in this blog was gathered from this article at Amnesty.org.

For continuing updates and articles about these kinds of issues, AmazonWatch.org is a great site to consult.  There are ongoing indigenous battles underway in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and other  South American countries as native peoples endeavor to retain their quality of life.

**Last year, Ecuador indigenous in the northern area of Lago Agrio (Sour Lake) won a multi-billion settlement against Chevron for thirty years of devastation to their land, health and livelihoods.  That disaster has been called the Rainforest Chernobyl.

Read my blog about the Chevron case and more on this site.

Texaco was the oil company originally responsible for the damage but Chevron now owns the company. Chevron has so far refused to pay and penalties have been added to the amount the company owes.

The Wall Street Journal states that Chevron now faces additional penalties for refusing to apologize in calling the Ecuadorian court of Sucumbios was not impartial in its rulings and lacked integrity.

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