Leonardo DiCaprio joins effort to stop oil drilling on land claimed by indigenous group

Jun 28, 2019 | 51 comments

U.S. actor Leonardo DiCaprio is asking his social media fans and environmentalists to demand that the Ecuadorian government end its plan for oil exploration on land claimed by the Amazon Waorani community.

Leonardo DiCaprio

“The government of Ecuador is still trying to auction the ancestral lands of the Waorani for oil exploitation — sign the petition to protect the Amazon,” DiCaprio writes in his Twitter account. The message is accompanied by a 30-second video in which a Waorani woman says the world must decide between oxygen or oil.

“The Waorani people need our help to protect half a million acres of tropical Amazonian forest from oil exploitation,” DiCaprio’s says. “Join our global digital campaign to support the organization for indigenous rightsand the protection of the rain forest and our climate.”

Waorani lawyers are preparing a defense of an April court ruling that stopped the government from auctioning oil exploration rights. The government appealed and the two sides face off again in court July 1.

A statement issued by the Waorani government council demands respect for the indigenous community’s heritage. “We have lived in the Amazon forest for thousands of years we have defended our territory against all intruders and we consider the government and oil companies to be intruders. The bones of our Waorani ancestors are buried in the earth that they want to disturb.”

In the video accompanying DiCaprio’s Tweet, the indigenous woman says, “The world wants the oil of our jungle but it also needs the oxygen produced by the jungle. It can’t have both.”

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