The women come from all parts of Ecuador’s Amazon region but they share one thing in common: a fierce determination to stop the growing oil exploration and mining activity on what they consider ancestral land.
President Lenin Moreno has agreed to meet with the Women of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Confeniae) on Thursday and says the discussions are part of his policy of holding dialogs with all interest groups.
“We are the protectors of the jungle,” says Nina Gualinga. “We appreciate the government’s promises but we are not seeing the action. When we meet with the president we will present our demands and tell him we want changes to the national policy of oil and mining exploitation in the Amazon. We want action, not words.”
The members of Confeniae, many in painted faces, wearing ceremonial dress, conducted protest marches in Quito last week and say more are coming.
Gualinga says her group is not only protesting oil and mining activities, but the way the government has treated indigenous people living on or near the affected areas. “We have been evicted from our homelands in the southern Amazon, our leaders have been arrested and our women have been raped by representatives of the government,” she claims. “Most of this happened during the Rafael Correa presidency but we are not seeing substantive changes under the current president.”
In particular, Gualinga says Confeniae will ask Moreno to follow through on a promise to investigate alleged abuses that occurred during the evictions.
Last week, Confeniae released a letter criticizing the government’s announcement of a new oil tender in the central-southern Ecuadorian Amazon.