More About Colombia
Colombia's indigenous peoples continue to face grave threats in the era of the country's new President Juan Manual Santos. The struggle to control Colombia's lucrative natural resources has helped spur the country's decades-long civil war and is a central consideration of U.S. foreign policy for the region. More
The Indigenous U'wa Struggle for Peace in ColombiaMay 2, 2016Intercontinental Cry
The U’wa, who call themselves the people who know how to think and speak, consider themselves the Guardians of Mother Nature, and large tracts of land inside their territory have become biological reserves for jaguars, spectacled bears, as well as a kaleidoscopic array of endemic plant and bird life that do not appear anywhere else on the planet.
There is no legitimate rationale for using violence against the U'wa. They are extreme pacifists by culture (considering the mere presence of weapons in their territory as violence) and have always been transparent about their actions. In this case, they are protecting an ecologically fragile and spiritually significant part of their own territory from damage.
Colombia’s U’wa Indigenous Guard MobilizesMarch 23, 2016
Taking direct action to defend their territory is a deadly serious proposition for Colombia's indigenous peoples. As such, the current mobilization of the U'wa Indigenous Guard to stop tourists from entering the sacred snow-capped mountain peak of El Cocuy has grabbed national and international attention.
As an organization that works to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin, we were thrilled when Kimberly Todd and Valerie Robert, two talented and socially conscious teachers, reached out to us with their curricula and resources for parents and students to take action. They created these unit plans with the goal of providing teachers with resources that meet both the English Common Core Standards and raise awareness about the threats facing the Amazon rainforest and the Indigenous populations living in the Amazon Basin.
Twenty years ago today, our founder Atossa Soltani stood face to face with Fernando Cardoso, then the president of Brazil. Atossa knew then that while indigenous peoples represent only four percent of the world's population, they are the guardians and stewards of 80 percent of the world's biodiversity. That's why she founded Amazon Watch on March 11th, 1996, to both protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples.
Amazon Watch works to protect the rainforest by advancing the rights of indigenous peoples. We work closely with indigenous leaders to help amplify the calls to keep the oil in the ground and stop mega-dams in the Amazon to avoid climate chaos. Defending indigenous rights, territories, living forests and flowing rivers are demonstrably effective solutions to climate change. Together, we are growing the movement to leave all fossil fuels in the ground and promote a just transition to 100% renewable energy.
The Amazon rainforest can seem unimaginably vast. Similarly, the fight to defend it from the onslaught of industrial-scale threats like oil drilling, logging, and huge dams can appear overwhelming. But across the region, local indigenous peoples and our work to support them is making the difference and protecting the lands they have known for centuries. In 2015, these five snapshots of success gave us hope that the Amazon has a chance to avoid ecosystem collapse, but only if we support its indigenous guardians.
As negotiators butt heads in Paris over the fine print of a new United Nations climate treaty, one issue they will need to address urgently is the fate of the Amazon.
What we can learn from the U'wa and Achuar Victories in 2015October 15, 2015
In 2015, several indigenous peoples announced important advances in their decades-long struggles to defend their sacred homelands. The Achuar people of the Northern Peruvian Amazon and the U'wa people of the Colombian cloud forest both embody the power of grassroots resistance in the face of multi-billion dollar corporations.
What becomes of places like the Amazon Basin that don't have major oil reserves, but are vital for the regulation of the earth's climate, house 20% of the planet's fresh water, and one in ten of the world's known species?