Increasing Pressures on Yasuní Lead to More Violence in the Amazon

Amazon Watch

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A group of Indigenous Waorani warriors has allegedly carried out revenge killings against other Indigenous people deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This latest spate follows the March 5th deaths of Ompore and Bogueney, an elderly Waorani couple killed by a group of Taromenane in the community of Yarentaro, province of Orellana. It is yet unknown exactly how many Taromenane have been killed in the latest violence. Unverified reports indicate that an entire family of perhaps 18 people was massacred when the armed Waorani came across a Taromenane home deep in the forest. A military fly-over has revealed a burned house deep in Yasuní National Park. Two young Taromenane girls were reportedly carried off and are currently being held in a Waorani community.

The Taromenane are one of two Waorani sub-groups, along with the Tagaeri, living in voluntary isolation in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They live within and around Yasuní National Park, crossing the border into northern Peru. Natural resource extraction, colonization, and development have greatly reduced Tagaeri-Taromenane territory, placing both groups in ever-increasing risk of contact.

In a written statement, Humberto Cholango, president of Ecuador's national Indigenous federation CONAIE, said, "This is the result of a structural problem. The development model followed by the Ecuadorian state since the beginning of the petroleum era has done nothing but increase pressure on the lives of the Indigenous nationalities... These pressures on Indigenous territories have provoked conflicts between Waorani and the Tagaeri and Taromenane, encounters that have turned into violent confrontations."

Before killing Ompore and Bogueney, the Taromenane reportedly expressed their anger at the noise, deforestation, and oil platforms throughout their territory, claiming that the Waorani had not done enough to prevent this incursion on their ancestral homeland.

Amazon Watch opposes any attempt to forcefully contact Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation, as this often results in increased violence, death and cultural loss. We ask the Ecuadorian government to respect and enforce the Plan of Preventative Measures, which has been poorly implemented since its creation. The Plan sets strict guidelines for the protection of a no-go zone free from industry, development, and settlement, established to safeguard the human rights of isolated peoples. We support the immediate exit of extractive industry from Tagaeri-Taromenane territory, a moratorium on new licenses to operate in this territory, and the promotion of economic alternatives to minimize the impact of oil and logging in the region. If immediate measures are not taken to protect the right of those Indigenous peoples to remain in voluntary isolation, they will disappear forever.

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