Eye on the Amazon

Amazonian Women Mobilize in Quito to Demand Justice and Support for Earth Defenders

The Amazonian women joined the march with the goal of amplifying their voices of resistance against extractivism

  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)
  • Photo Credit: Lucas Bustamante (@luksth)

"We are not alone. We are organized, we are protecting each other, and we are not afraid."

Patricia Gualinga, Representative of Amazonian Indigenous Women

Over 100 Amazonian women, representing multiple Indigenous nations across Ecuador, came together to march for the dignity of their peoples, to reclaim their songs and wisdom, to re-ignite their fight against extractivism, and to address social inequality and the rampant impunity for those who attack defenders of nature. The Amazonian Indigenous Women Network, which coordinated the mobilization, officially formed in 2013.

According to Patricia Gualinga, this year three defenders of nature were threatened and branded as "terrorists" and criminalized for defending their territory from extractive companies. She says, "We've been victims of persecution and smeared by the media."

In the face of constant threats to human rights defenders, Patricia affirms that "as a result of the concession of our territories, Amazonian women are uniting to make our voices heard." Indigenous land in Ecuador remains under the threat of concession, a process by which the government grants companies access for oil exploration and extraction.

The most serious incidents occured in 2018, when four women were threatened, eventually reaching the point where according to Patricia the home of one of her colleagues was set on fire. Those responsible have still not been named.

That same year, the Amazonian Indigenous Women delivered "The Mandate of The Amazonian Defenders of the Jungle on the Front Lines Against Extractivism" to Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno. The document explains their position against extractive companies, denounces inequality in access to social safety net programs, condemns the criminalization of Earth Defenders, and decries the limited access to justice for human rights defenders.

Despite the fact that President Moreno publicly committed to implement the Mandate of the Amazonian Indigenous Women, it has now been almost two years and the government has not given any response to it, nor has it shown any progress or political will to implement it.

Due to the lack of follow-through by the government, during the last day of this year's mobilization, the Amazonian Indigenous Women, publicly denounced the absence of guaranteed protection for human rights and earth defenders. They submitted a petition to government authorities demanding justice and support for human rights defenders with more than 250,000 signatures collected, representing over 168 countries.

The Amazonian Indigenous Women are also calling for support for members of their network: Patricia Gualinga, Nema Grefa, Salomé Aranda, and Margoth Escobar. All four Indigenous women have been subject to a series of attacks and death threats over the past two years.

"We will continue this fight. We will continue resisting to reach our objectives. History illustrates that protecting nature requires the resistance of Indigenous peoples and nationalities. Our resistance alone allows us to survive."

Margoth Escobar, Defender of Nature

"This attack is retaliation for my fight to defend life and our territories against the threat of oil extraction"

Salomé Aranda, Leader of Women and Family of the Moretecocha commune

"They threaten me with death, but I will not be scared by those words. As a Sápara woman, I will fight for my territory."

Nema Grefa, Leader of the Sápara Nation

The voices from the Amazonian Indigenous Women's mobilization were also amplified on a local and international scale through the solidarity and support from Amnesty International, Amazon Watch, Fundación Pachamama/Pachamama Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, Acción Ecológica, and REPAM.

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