Amazonian Women of Ecuador Defend their Rights

Puyo, Ecuador — International Women's Day was celebrated with cultural diversity and the struggle for Indigenous peoples’ self-determination. 

Hundreds of Indigenous women, as representatives of Indigenous peoples from the Amazon, staged a demonstration in defense of their culture and their territories.  The Sapara, Waorani, Sarayaku, Pacayaku, Kichwa, Shuar, Achuar, Shiwiar peoples were present in the streets of the city of Puyo on the occasion of a march being carried out by Amazonian women where they reclaimed their right to self-determination and rejected oil and mining operations.

Most of the women came from faraway places, traveling for days in canoes and in the rain. However, their decision to bring the message from their communities to the rest of the world led to the organization of an event to celebrate women’s participation in the struggle to maintain their culture and territory.

Alicia Cahuiya, a Waorani peoples' representative said:

Governments have not respected our territory or our consent.  We do not agree with the extraction of oil in the Yasuni. They continue to open roads and oil wells that destroy and pollute our territory.  Many indigenous Waorani are affected, and are changing their way of life because of the presence of companies.  We have said many times that we do not want any more oil, respect our traditional life in the forest.  But they never listen to us.  Today we are here to tell the world that we are going to defend ourselves as our grandparents did.

Women from the Sapara nation echoed this sentiment, saying that:

The territory we have is what our parents and grandparents left us, they defended themselves with their struggle and now it is our time to do it….We will not allow anyone to negotiate with our lands, we are not going to allow oil activities.

It was a March 8th in favor of cultural diversity, self-determination, the right to territory and to indigenous peoples’ human rights.