​​Letter to Ecuadorian President Moreno in Support of the Sapara Nation

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To: President Moreno

This May we had the pleasure and privilege of meeting leaders of the Sapara Nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon. We learned about the richness of Sapara culture, but also about the threat the Sapara face from oil operations in their ancestral territory deep in the Amazon rainforest. For that reason we write you to express our support for the Sapara Nation and for their demand for an end to any and all oil activities in their territory, whether now or in the future.

Although the Sapara Nation has publicly demanded the annulation of oil blocks 79 and 83, concessions for which are held by Andes Petroleum, the Sapara Nation affirms that a proper free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process was never carried out with them regarding oil activities in these blocks that overlap their titled territory. Furthermore, we understand that your government intends to auction off new oil blocks in the Amazon, which will directly impact the Sapara and other indigenous nations. We understand that FPIC processes have also not yet been carried out for those new blocks, despite the fact that affected indigenous nations continue to voice adamant opposition to drilling.

As you well know, the right to FPIC for indigenous communities is enshrined in both international and Ecuadorian law, and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights has specifically ordered the Ecuadorian state to comply with these obligations. Furthermore, the Sapara Nation, which now counts less than 500 people, has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This designation calls attention to the necessity of preserving the Sapara language and culture, a task that would be nearly impossible if oil drilling proceeds on their ancestral territory.

As the Sapara have highlighted, oil extraction in Block 83 would appear to violate Ecuador's own Constitution which in Article 57, paragraph 21, specifically places off-limits to extraction activities on the territories of the "isolated indigenous peoples." A 2013 Ministry of Justice map on the ‘Distribution of Isolated Indigenous Peoples' shows evidence that the nomadic Cuchiyaku indigenous group live in voluntary isolation within Block 83.

As indigenous organizations from the United States, and non-profit organizations that support indigenous communities, we are very attentive to and concerned about the wellbeing of our Sapara brothers and sisters, as well as that of the other indigenous nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. We call on your government to respect and uphold their rights to FPIC and self determination.

We thank you for your attention to this matter, and await your response.

Sincerely,

  • Amazon Watch
    Amazon Watch
  • Oglala Nation
    Arthur Redcloud, Oglala Lakota and Navajo Nations
  • Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
    Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
  • Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas
    Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas
  • Center for Biological Diversity
    Center for Biological Diversity
  • Chinese Progressive Association - San Francisco
    Chinese Progressive Association - San Francisco
  • Climate Justice Alliance
    Climate Justice Alliance
  • Greenpeace
    Greenpeace
  • Idle No More SF Bay
    Idle No More SF Bay
  • Indigenous Environmental Network
    Indigenous Environmental Network
  • International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines - US
    International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines - US
  • Rainforest Action Network
    Rainforest Action Network
  • Society of Native Nations
    Society of Native Nations
  • 350.org - Seattle
    350.org - Seattle
  • Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
    Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services


CC:
Carlos Perez Garcia, Minister of Hydrocarbons
Paúl Granda López, National Secretary of Policy Management
Rosana Alvarado, Minister of Justice, Human Rights, and Religion
Gina Benavides, Rights Ombudsman

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