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A MASSACRE OF CONVENIENCE: Democracy, progress, and the disappearance of a People in the Ecuadorian Amazon

in Guerilla Journalism by

The families sang in their shelter in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, unaware of their attackers closing in around them.

Those who would kill them would later say their naked victims had “sung like the monkeys sing… The song seems like it’s calling the jungle… It was like the voices of the animals; they sung strong, strong…”

The singers were from the Taromenane tribe, an indigenous group who avoid contact with the outside world. Despite being protected by the Ecuadorian Constitution as an “uncontacted people” decades of attacks against them had reduced their numbers to between less than 150 up to 300 people, who live in small groups in the Yasuni National Park above the few untapped oil reserves left in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

The heavily armed Waorani warriors implicated in the massacre
The heavily armed Waorani warriors implicated in the massacre of up to 30 unarmed men, women, and children
Their attackers were from the Waorani tribe, another indigenous people who were “contacted” during the initial colonization of the vast Ecuadorian jungle and who often live in roadside communities integrated into the petroleum economy of the Amazonian frontier.

These 15 Waorani warriors carried pistols, shotguns, and ammunition newly purchased from the petroleum boomtowns of Coca and Lago Agrio and possessed smartphones to photograph the aftermath of the massacre.

These men were on a mission to revenge the death of the Waorani elder Ompure Omewey and his wife Buganey, who were assassinated by the Taromenane tribe three weeks earlier on the 5th of March, inside Spanish oil giant RepSol’s Petroleum Block 16.

The Taromenane are known to kill all “cowori” or outsiders who enter their territory and over the decades the bodies of illegal-loggers and hunters impaled by spears have been found around the border of their nomadic hunting grounds. The targeted assassination against the Waorani elder Ompure however was remarkable not only because the killing occurred in the heart of RepSol controlled Block 16 but because Ompure was known to them.

Ompure Omewey’s “first contact” with the Taromenane tribe

Ompure was a bridge between the worlds of the contacted and uncontacted; the only person to survive multiple peaceful interactions with the Taromenane. The elder described his first contact with the Taromenane in this video almost a year to the day before his death:

The Taromenane had asked him to keep the encroaching outsiders away from their lands. The Taromenane also said they were too terrified to leave their cover to cross the Via Maxus, an “oil highway” cut through the jungle by the Maxus Oil Company, who along with Texaco and state-run PetroEcuador have led the opening of the Amazonian frontier.

The final frontier for petrol companies in the Ecuadorian Amazon is the Yasuni National Park, which consists of Taromenane territory known as the “Intangible Zone” because in 1991 a presidential decree declared it untouchable due to its: “great cultural and biological importance in which no type of extractive activity can be carried out due to the high value they have for the Amazon region, Ecuador, the world, and present and future generations.”

Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution went one step further to protect its uncontacted peoples stating:

“The territories of the peoples living in voluntary isolation are an irreducible and intangible ancestral possession and all forms of extractive activities shall be forbidden there. The State shall adopt measures to guarantee their lives, enforce respect for self-determination and the will to remain in isolation and to ensure observance of their rights. The violation of these rights shall constitute a crime of ethnocide, which shall be classified as such by law.”

Ecuador’s greatest oil reserve is the Yasuní-ITT field, inside the Yasuni National Park overlapping the Intangible Zone, and Rafael Correa’s government initially pledged to seek international donations to leave the oil underground as part of its ‘Yasuní Initiative’.

ecuador-amazonThe initiative was first promoted at the governmental level by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, but opposed by the powerful chief executive of Petroecuador, who was determined to extract the reserve’s estimated 900 million barrels of heavy crude.

President Correa told the board of Petroecuador on 31 March 2007 that the government would consider extracting Yasuni’s oil as “Option B” if international funds were not forthcoming to keep the oil underground.

According to former Minister of Energy and Mines Alberto Acosta, “those mandated with the project did not tire of threatening the imminent exploitation of the ITT field in Yasuni, in fact [it was] more than a threat, it was a demonstrated certainty with the advancement of extractive activities in Block 31, adjacent to ITT”.

While the Government referred to the plight of the uncontacted tribes in the Yasuni to boost international donations, the full extent of the Taromenane’s land was, at the time, still not immune from exploration.

ecuadpr-yasuniBoth Block 31 and the oil concession of the Yasuní-ITT oil reserve (‘Block 43’) overlap the Taromenane tribe’s Intangible Zone.

Petroleum Block 16 that borders Block 31 overlaps a 10 km deep buffer zone surrounding the land of these uncontacted peoples, in which forestry and mining is legally prohibited.

As the years past and the petrol companies closed in on the Intangible Zone, the Taromenane made their complaints known to Ompure. The tribe also requested the Waorani elder supply them with cooking pots, machetes, and modern tools. Ompure reportedly petitioned RepSol, who operates Block 16, to supply the Taromenane with tools but the Spanish company refused him. Repsol denied to confirm this citing on-going court processes, but following Ompure’s murder the Spanish company’s staff were evacuated from the area.

Waorani hunt Taromenane while Government hunts oil

In the 19 days following the assassination the 15 Waorani warriors had not kept their intentions for revenge secret. They purchased weapons and ammunition to kill the Taromenane while the very government officials responsible for a Precautionary Measures Plan for the Protection of the Tagaeri Taromenane People were in Quito taking workshops with consultants on the issue of the sale of weapons and ammunition in the Amazon.

The world’s leading authority on Ecuador’s uncontacted tribes, Spanish Capuchin priest Miguel Cabodevilla, repeatedly petitioned the Ministry of the Interior to intervene in the impending massacre. The government-owned newspaper El Telegrafo condemned such requests as blackmail.

[quote]Then while the heavily-armed Waorani scoured the jungle to exterminate the Taromenane, leading Ecuadorian officials were in Beijing soliciting bids for new petrol concessions in its Amazon.[/quote]The government’s boosting of public spending to unprecedented levels is largely financed by Chinese loans exchanged for oil concessions – Quito now exports around 90% of its petrol to China and owes the Asian superpower US$4.71 billion (as of April 2014).

On the morning of the 30th of March the Waorani warriors found a deserted Taromenane house, and the multitude of photographs taken testifies to their mounting excitement after days searching in the jungle. Later that day they found the skulls of wild pigs eaten by the uncontacted tribe, and by mid-afternoon they heard the Taromenane singing. Stealthily they approached the thatched hut, anxious not to alert the two guards stationed at the doorway.

As a Taromenane boy and girl walked out of the hut they discovered the ambush the boy fled indoors, the song abruptly stopped and spears rattled inside the hut. The men of the uncontacted tribe burst out to fight and defend their women and children so they could flee “But bullets are faster than spears” recalled one of the Waorani attackers.

“The rifles didn’t sound loud” one said Waorani, “lots of blood came out, lots of blood, blood dripping like water… We killed each one with a gunshot, we shot them without stopping”.

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photographic evidence of the massacre that the Ecuadorian government downplayed and publicly doubted

In the jungle, the Waorani warriors impaled the heads of two men onto stakes and then when they had “finished with killing”, they entered the hut and consumed the food and fermented drink called chicha that the Taromenane had been preparing. Inside the thatched building they found some of Ompure’s possessions which justified in their minds the massacre.

A bewildered Taromenane mother came to the hut after seeing the carnage and begged the warriors for mercy pledging herself to become the wife of the warrior who spared their lives. The raiders impaled her on a spear in front of her daughters then debated what to do with the 6 and 4 year old girls.

As the debate heated up and as one Waorani took trophy photographs of the bodies of men, women, and children riddled with bullets and impaled by spears. A body moved startling the warriors and they fled with the two Taromenane girls.

Even though members of the revenge mission began selling the photographs on the streets of Coca and one even appeared on the program Day to Day on TeleAmazonas confessing killing 5 people with spears. “I killed!” he said, “because i’m a warrior”. Government officials however outwardly seemed surprised about the ‘alleged’ massacre expressing doubt as to whether it actually happened citing a lack of ‘tangible evidence’ and the ‘unattributed’ nature of the photographs.

Two parliamentarians wrote to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights informing them of the attack and reminding them of Ecuador’s obligations under the Precautionary Measures imposed by the Commission to protect the Taromenane against attacks by Waorani and loggers. [quote]The parliamentarians said that by allowing oil extraction, the government was creating the conditions for the physical and cultural extinction of the uncontacted indigenous.
[/quote]

The circles of uncontacted tribes in 2003
The circles of uncontacted tribes in 2003 (click to expand)

In response Quito filed a report on the state’s compliance with the Inter-American Commission’s Precautionary Measures in April 2013. It depicted the uncontacted peoples via circles on a map, the four groups inhabiting areas in or bordering the ‘intangible area’ and extending into the adjoining oil blocks 16, 31, and ITT.

One of the circles represented the ‘Grupo Via Maxus’, centred around the Waorani community of Yarentaro, spreading into Blocks 14 and 16 and the area of the Via Maxus.

The public prosecutor’s office however would not visit the site of the massacre, where at least 20 – 30 men, women, and children were slaughtered for another 9 months. The investigation went dormant and after the initial flurry of news articles in the aftermath the Ecuadorian press were also silent.

Meanwhile Milagros Aguirre and Miguel Cabodevilla initiated their own investigation and documented their findings in the book ‘Una Tragedia Ocultada’ (we have translation large section of the book here). The book meticulously details government incompetence with their obligations under the Precautionary Measures to protect uncontacted peoples. The Waorani expedition into the jungle was related through first person testimonies and photos taken on the raid as well as reports off airdrops of poisoned food were also documented.

Rewriting the Constitution to Change Definition of Genocide

The members of the 2007 ‘Constitutional Assembly of Montecristi’ convened again to rewrite a new Constitution that suspended the sitting Congress for representing what they believed were the corrupt, elitist old order. In drafting the new Constitution they promoted it as a “Citizens Revolution” where the citizens themselves would now govern Ecuador, by being able to overturn unpopular decisions by the government if the citizens collected enough signatures to force a national referendum.

While the extraction of resources were still banned on lands inhabited by uncontacted tribes, President Correa emphasized the need to reinterpret the new constitution ‘in good faith’ stressing the importance of securing mineral and petrol wealth and to modernize the economy. Correa’s supporters claim that using Chinese loans to boost spending in return for oil is a revolutionary form of ‘south-south’ cooperation that will wean Ecuador from colonial patterns of trade.

In August 2013 another map was sent by President Correa to the National Assembly as he sought their approval to open the Yasuní-ITT field to exploration. Now they declared that there were only three uncontacted tribes in the region: the Via Maxus group had disappeared. The three other groups including the Taromenane were now located outside the Blocks Yasuní-ITT and 31.

The government was faced with the constitutional injunction of exploration in areas inhabited by uncontacted tribes, and selectively quoted elements of the UN’s Draft Guidelines on the Protection of Indigenous People Living in Voluntary Isolation and in Danger of Extinction to argue that oil exploration would not equate to ethnocide.

Basque lawyer Mikel Berraondo, who drafted these UN guidelines that the Ecuadorian executive had selectively quoted, said everything in his work that opposed the exploitation of Yasuní-ITT was ignored. He described the government’s actions ‘Machiavellian’: “It is an insult to the intelligence of the people that someone can place a report before a congress of such importance as a national parliamentary assembly, and believe that no one in this country will realize the deceit in this report.”[pullquote]“It is an insult to the intelligence of the people that someone can place a report before a congress of such importance as a national parliamentary assembly, and believe that no one in this country will realize the deceit in this report.”
– Mikel Berraondo[/pullquote]

The government also submitted maps to Congress created by the Ministry of Justice, which sought to argue that uncontacted tribes were neither living in, nor passing through Blocks 31 and 43. They argued that altitude and geography made the area an unlikely home for the Taromenane, and cited the lack of sightings of uncontacted peoples by camera traps.

“The Ministry can say what they want; I say what I think as a scientist.” says Italian geographer Massimo Marchi, an expert on the Ecuadorian Amazon, “I’m a university professor; if the Ministry’s briefing was submitted there it would not have passed the exam, because there was no scientific consistency.”

map of oil yasuni
Map of Yasuni overlapping oil concessions (click to expand)

The altitudes cited in the document were one of many errors, he said; such altitudes would have resulted in the blocks being underneath a subterranean lagoon stretching to Peru.

On the 24th of September, 17 minutes before Milagros Aguirre and Cabodevilla’s book A Hidden Tragedy was due to be released, it was prohibited to circulate over any medium. The censorship backfired and the book was shared far and wide for free over social media which consequently transformed the public profile of the massacre, ensuring a widespread distrust of the government’s stewardship of oil exploration. On 3 October 2013 the National Assembly voted to allow oil exploration in Blocks 31 and the Yasuní-ITT field (Block 43).

[quote]Eight weeks later, the government adjusted the laws on genocide and ethnocide, changing the definition of the crimes. The crimes now needed to involve the intention to destroy a people or a way of life. The extinction of the Ecuadorian Amazon’s last uncontacted peoples due to the collateral damage of oil extraction was no longer considered a crime.[/quote]

These changes were presented to the National Assembly by the ruling party’s Mauro Andino, who said their authorship ‘corresponded to a great visionary, revolutionary and patriot’ (President Rafael Correa). Seven of the Waorani warriors responsible for the massacre were then arrested under the new legislation for acts of genocide and their cases passed to the Constitutional Court.

To Milagros Aguirre, when the government avoided their obligations under Precautionary Measures by refusing to pay the Waorani compensation for the assassination of Ompure, their warriors acted according to the traditions of the Amazon, as soldiers in a war. The prosecutions of the Waorani after 10 months of inaction promised only “justice with a greater injustice; the Waorani are prisoners, their families suffer without their suppliers and hunters, hungry and suffering.”

Meanwhile the state “has no protocols in case of sighting human groups in the jungle, it has no mechanism to actually implement the Precautionary Measures, it has not provided education to the Waorani groups and it continues operating on their territory.”

To Carlos Andres Vera, who directed the 2007 documentary Taromenani, the Exterminaton of the Uncontacted Peoples, the culpability for the destruction of the Taromenane is clear: [pullquote]“So, according to the Constitution, the government is committing genocide. That´s why the second fact is important: they changed the definition of genocide in the new law, breaking the meaning and spirit of the Constitution.”
– Carlos Andres Vera[/pullquote] “According to the Constitution, Article 57 says any activity regarding exploitation of natural resources is considered genocide. I agree with that definition. So, according to the Constitution, the government is committing genocide. That´s why the second fact is important: they changed the definition of genocide in the new law, breaking the meaning and spirit of the Constitution.”

The abandonment of the Yasuni initiative was resisted by an alliance of youth volunteers, who came together under the umbrella of Yasunidos.

Electoral Fraud Damages Credibility of Correas’ Citizen Revolution

"Electoral Fraud" in the National Electoral College
“Electoral Fraud” in the National Electoral College

They put to test President Correa’s flagship tool for direct democracy in his so-called Citizens Revolution by criss-crossing the country collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures to force a Popular Vote on whether to drill in the Yasuni.

On 12 April the Waorani leader Alicia Cahuilla presented the first box of 757,623 signatures against oil drilling to the National Electoral College (NCE) and force a national referendum.

The president of the National Electoral College (NCE) had previously spoken out in favour of oil exploration in Yasuní, and there was alarm when it was discovered that the boxes of signatures were being tampered with. The NCE subsequently invalidated 66% of the signatures under incredibly dubious circumstances and halted the referendum.

A subsequent investigation by Quito’s Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar studied 20,064 of the signatures and estimated that 673,863 of the total collected by Yasunidos were valid. The verification study estimated the margin for error at 0.76%.

To Alberto Acosta, who served as President of the Constitutional Assembly, the invalidation of over 650,000 signatures of people around Ecuador was further evidence that the core aim of Correa’s presidency was “the modernization of Ecuadorian capitalism”.

A 60 meter "oil highway" cut through Taromanene territory in the Yasuni that was prohibited by the Ministry of Environment
A 60 meter “oil highway” cut through Taromanene territory in the Yasuni that was prohibited by the Ministry of Environment

The Inter-American Court for Human Rights meanwhile ordered the reuniting of the two Taromenane girls, who remain separated, one in Orellana, the other in Pastaza. Of the two girl’s family little is known.

There are rumours that Taromenane spears have been thrown at oil company cars using a secret 26 metre-wide new highway cut by PetroAmazonas into Block 31, but they now evade contact.

On 22 May 2014 Ecuador approved a license for oil drilling in Block 43 inside the Yasuni National Park to Petroamazonas, with extraction expected to commence as soon as 2016. By then we may have found out that the Taromanene tribe, like the uncontacted via Maxus group before them, will have disappeared from maps of the Ecuadorian Amazon drawn up by the government of Rafael Correa.

[sexy_author_bio]

A Hidden Tragedy Translated: The Censored Book That Broke Ecuador’s Heart

in Corruption & Transparency/Environmental Activism/Human Rights by
Ecuador Censored Book
yasuni amazon
The obscured text on the back cover symbolizes the attempts at hiding this tragedy even before the book was censored.
“At the end of march this year, 2013, in the jungles of Ecuador’s northern orient, a great massacre of uncontacted indigenous was committed.” opens the book A Hidden Tragedy. “Accomplished in a way that was abusive and cruel. Those eliminated, above all, where women and children.”

Seventeen minutes before the book was due to be presented to the Ecuadorian public it was censored from circulation “over any medium” by none other than Judge Hilda Garces of the Judicial Unit of Violence Against Women and Family.

 
The reason: the book contained uncensored photos of two Taromenane girls aged 3 and 6 who had been kidnapped during the massacre of their uncontacted tribe.

Seemingly unbeknownst to the Judge or anyone else who had not yet read the book is that the authors took great care to protect the identities of “C-” and “D-“, as we follow their terrifying journey from the moment their mother is speared to their arrival in the remote Yarentaro outpost inside the oil giant RepSol’s Petroleum Block 16.

The book contained something much worse: a catalog of government incompetence and carelessness in the Ecuadorian Amazon at a time when it was facing a massive public backlash on its decision to drill for billions of dollars of oil in the Yasuní National Park – home of the uncontacted Taromeane tribe now facing the existential threat of genocide.

One thing above all becomes clear: the massacre was preventable.

Knowing this fact makes the reader feel the tragedy all the more deeply as the authors, a Spanish anthropologist missionary and veteran Ecuadorian journalist, scramble to alert the authorities to stop sitting on their hands and do something to prevent a repeat of the 2003 massacre in which between 13 – 26 innocent men, women, and children of the Taromenane were killed.

The book also opens up as many questions as it answers: why did the Governor of Orellana Province celebrate the massacre? Who is airdropping poisoned food onto an uncontacted tribe that happen to live above one of the largest untapped oil reserves on the South American continent?

In Part I of this story we walked through events leading up to the assassination of Ompore Omewey, the flashpoint that triggered the massacre, using photos and information passed to me by a contact inside Block 16 while referencing the first 60 pages of A Hidden Tragedy.

For Part II I have devoted my limited time and resources to translate excerpts from the moment the authors of A Hidden Tragedy uncover why the Waorani elders were assassinated, to give an incomplete, yet very relevant and revealing view, into the massive human and environmental costs associated with the crude profit of petroleum exploitation in Ecuador’s Amazon.

English excerpts from A Hidden Tragedy

NOW AVAILABLE: Censored Book by Miguel Cabodevilla, CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
NOW AVAILABLE: Censored Book by Miguel Cabodevilla
NOTE:The headings, highlights and [comments] are mine to help give context and make the excerpts easier to scan.

The first half of the book is written by Cabodevilla from an anthropological perspective and the second half by Aguirre examines what seems like a government coverup of the massacre. The excerpts are ordered primarily by page number but I have placed parts of Aguierre’s investigation towards the beginning chronologically. All the photos below are in the book.

The version used to translate was una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida.pdf (a hidden tragedy corrected) which you can download here on Chekhov’s Kalashnikov as well as from the blogs, torrents, twitter, dropbox and facebook pages Ecuadorians used to subvert the censorship. 

“I’m not meeting their demands they are going to kill me”


una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 59 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

Two Taromenani veterans had approached [Ompore] various times, with some confidence, asking for axes, machetes, and pots.

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 59 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

In fact in a Waorani reunion in March 2012, when they filmed this video [of Ompure recounting First Contact with the Taromenane] Ompure told the Waorani assembly about these encounters at his house. He had obtained a few tools from a Waorani employee of Repsol; also Cawetipe, President of NAWE [Waorani Nationality of Ecuador] but it seems this meagre distribution reached only a few [Taromenane] and provoked animosity in others; some of them came to Ompore in a threatening way, demanding tools for everyone.

Ompore, in turn requested, somewhat distressed (i’m not meeting their demands they are going to kill me) the tools from the assembly and the petrol company RepSol. [they denied the request]  
 
He was terrified. On several occasions [the Taromenane] had robbed his house in the jungle. Following various claims these complaints and intimidations became more often. Not only for tools, but they also complained (as we have seen) about everything that disrespected their territory, for the loud noise of the petrol rigs of the north, for the highways that cut their ancient paths and impeded their passing.

The Waorani elder Ompure Omewey impaled with Taromenane spears
The Waorani elder Ompure Omewey impaled with Taromenane spears

Airdrops of food cause suspected “massive poisoning” of uncontacted Taromenane

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 62 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

On the 12th of April, the Agency of Official News, ANDES, published a surprising declaration from the Attorney General of the nation. Given the hermetic way in which it had managed itself until then (also before and after this declaration) in light of the subject, emphasizing the complexity of the investigation and therefore the steps which were to occur, their words came as a surprise. “The Attorney General is verifying a testimony given by the [kidnapped Taromenane girls] that an aircraft flew over dropping poisoned food that was eaten by various indigenous Taromenane, producing death in some of them. The Attorney General Chiriboga has left open the possibility that, if the murder is proven and those responsible identified, they will be tried in civil courts.”

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 63 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

The planes doing flights over the zone, normally leave the airports of Shell and Coca, shouldn’t be that numerous in recent months (or years) to not be able to check them. That which is obvious is to say that the Attorney General signaled, first and foremost, that the Ministry of Justice, charged with ensuring strict compliance with the PMC [Plan of Precautionary Measures] are therefore responsible for all actions that pose a threat to the safety of uncontacted tribes.

However, from the policy portfolio until today there has been no clarification issued on this grave suspicion that came all the way from the Attorney General. The Ministry of Justice is well aware that controls on flights in that area is just as important as on terrestrial entrances. [to the Intangible Zone – territory of the uncontacted Taromenane]

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 64 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

In our recent interviews with multiple Waorani witnesses of the area that complain and remember helicopter flights, also light planes, over the area. Several of them are members of the expedition organized by Waorani to revenge the death of the elders [Ompure and Buganey]. Their words, and even some of the photographs taken, testify to a large number of canned tuna found in the Taromenane homes. Other strange products found there could perhaps be explained by theft: clothes, liniment, cables for petroleum explosions…
Waorani holds up a t-shirt found in the Taromenane house
Waorani from revenge expedition holds up a t-shirt found in the Taromenane house
¿Could the Taromenane have accidentally opened some out of date tuna can, eaten it, and become victims of food poisoning for example? Are there other ways or risks for this alleged poisoning that has been denounced by the Attorney General? We are waiting for an explanation of the flights, also the possibility of homicide perpetrated from the air. This is something extremely serious.

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 65 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

Certainly that first interview with the kidnapped girl, made at the beginning of her confinement, surely could not accurately determine the circumstances of these events: date, circumstances of death … In any case it reminds us of another narration we collected from the mouth of Ompure referring to the annihilation of an uncontacted group perhaps prompted by an illness or massive poisoning.

Government compensation for murder: food rations


una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 68 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

What had happened in Yarentaro in legal and political terms was this: people protected by the [Ecuadorian] Constitution (with the government in charge of enforcing it), such as the Taromenani, assassinated two Waorani citizens who must also be protected by the State.

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 69 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

Meanwhile an endless treadmill of consultations and meetings began from many different government sectors. An unfortunate feature of this way of doing politics. They argued, as is customary, to whomever was playing the lead in resolving the problem. There were meetings with at least two dozen different secretaries and managers. They collided with each other, got into endless speeches or opinions, and whoevers opinion eventually prevailed was less than what was needed, while the police made the case a secret and controlled every aspect of it.

They consulted each other and who knows how many supposed experts in the following days, because after so many years with the problem [10 years since the massacre of 2003] the government team had no one to guide these matters wisely. They lost precious time to react and when they did they incorrectly calculated the internal social composition of the Waorani.

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 70 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

During those days we cautioned them with incessant communications to different [government] officials: You have to try and talk with those that are preparing the revenge attack! The only way, probably, is that the Government, above all, recognises its error: we have failed in our protection.

Then accept a duty incumbent upon [the government] to recognize its responsibility to help (compensation is a word that officials run away from like cats to water) the family. We encourage them to enter the affected communities with a generous and fair offer, not some insufficient food rations. [“the compensation of beans did not calm the tensions” – page 152 Milagros Aguirre]

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 71 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

Officials or advisers during the situation accepted as routine the expenses of incessant helicopter or plane travel, diets and hotels, etc., but were utterly incapable, and scandalized the Waorani whose family had been speared (we insisted: these people were expressly protected by the government) They can claim compensation. They had every right to it!

Waorani warriors acquire modern weaponry


una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 72 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

Waorani of the effected clans left for Coca and other points and made contacts for the adquisition of arms and ammunition. Repeated requests to the authorities to effectively control arms and munitions did not work. Several of the attackers had obtained sophisticated weaponry, 12 shot rifles among others. The final expedition that left the population was organized on the 24th of March. [Since the assassination] 19 days had passed! The luck of the Taromenane had been cast. The Government, with all of its means, had not been capable of resolving, in such a long time, a complex case, but one which involved less than a dozen well known Waorani.
Waorani enter the jungle to track the attackers after Ompure and Buganeys burrial
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Waorani Warriors pose for photo on the 30th of March, 8:30am, inside a Taromanene hut
una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 79 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

To live on such a violent border [the Taromenane “Intangible Zone”] (like some groups situated on the Vía Auca), where there are arbitrary land grabs, forest exploitation, etc., as well as the unlawful acts of many of their neighbours (colonizers and inidgenous) that do not respect this border (above all in hunting and fishing) is not the best school for the Taromenane to appreciate the laws of the Cowori [Taromenane word for outsider]. It is a place with very little law, with very bad laws, we can say.

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida
– Highlight on Page 150 – Milagros Aguirre

On that same day we sent 9 emails to the Viceminister of the Interior and an advisory lawyer of the Ministry, insisting on compensating the victims [Ompures family], as the only possibility to calm the tension, to uphold justice and start the rule of law in this no mans land. Including to make work a proposal to regulate compensation claims in cases like this: “if uncontacted groups are protected by the State and cause damage to their neighbours, the State has to take responsibility for this damage”. A regulation should have already been the first step to set a precedent. [and prevent the massacre of 2003 from happening again]

una-tragedia-ocultada-corregida-2-1
– Highlight on Page 152 – Milagros Aguirre

Why didn’t they act? Why didn’t they prohibit weapons, create a strong control, an agreement that could prevent those affected from seeking justice with their own hands? The argument, according to an official from this very government, is that some expert voices on the Waorani blindly told them that the Waorani were incapable of going to seek their Tagaeri/Taromenani brothers, that it was crazy to think that. They were mistaken. Its easy to make such a mistake on this topic, above all, if prejudice and anthropological assumptions are handled unrealistically and entirely wrong. Moreover, not far from all human feelings, common to all cultures and all people: anger, fear, the need for revenge, the thirst for justice.

On the 15th of March we wrote back to the Viceminister in private. We sent him a document titled “Some reflections”. One more time, we insisted that if he is not in the community, if he does not compensate the victims, if he does not go to Dicaro-Yarentaro to calm the animosity of the people, something is going to happen. A new disgrace in the jungle was imminent. And we would see it happen, before our eyes, the dead, once again.

To inform the public we wrote an article in Vanguardia which was published Monday 18th of March. Since then we have expressed to some organizations –the ONWO [Organization of the Waorani Nationality of Orellana province], the Confeniae [Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon], the Conaie [the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador], the CDES [Observatory of Collective Rights], the Network of Anthropologists, the applicants of precautionary measures [Plan de Medidas Cautelares] letters in Avaaz.org and Change.org – everybody – worried about what happened and what could happen, even though we explained the unique conflict exclusively from the easiest side: Ompure and Buganey were murdered because of the loud noises from an energy generator, and that Buganey, in the final moments on her deathbed, gave an Anti-Oil Company speech, which suited a series of rumours, depending on the organization speaking or the expert on shift.

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– Highlight on Page 154 – Milagros Aguirre

On the 23rd of March we got the first news that an armed expedition had left to look for those who had killed Ompure and Buganey. Nothing to do. Utter helplessness. Despair. Distrust in the promises of the authorities. Overall, it had been almost 20 days since the assassination of the elders and the authorities still didn’t know what to do, they didn’t speak, and if they did, they said it was a structural problem and should be fixed structurally.

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– Highlight on Page 156 – Milagros Aguirre

On the 28th we sent the Viceminister another text, “the new jungle of uncontacted peoples”, aiming to contribute knowledge to the circumstances he found himself living. The weekend continued with uncertainty: the expedition had not returned, they were still deep in the jungle. We found out about them on Monday the first of April. The revenge had been consummated. Justice, made there way. Death had arrived.

Paradoxically on that same day, the 1st of April, our response from Brigadier General Edison Narváez, Commander of the IV Division of the Amazon, also arrived: there has been no discovery of people dedicated to the sale of arms and munitions in the zone, was his reply.

A few hours before the news, we were again contacted by officials of the Interior Ministry. They called to invite us to participate in a workshop prepared on the issue by a different office, one with understanding of the topic and consultants, another with local authorities (again its always the same and ends the same). Hours later we returned their call, but not to confirm our presence on this so called workshop, but to tell the Viceminister that it was all too late, that there was no point in yet another workshop, whether or not the State could manage a structural response: the revenge had been consummated. The Waorani returned with two girls, C- and D-, that they had captured on their expedition.

“What! Are we talking about a scenario like 2003?” said the surprised Viceminister.

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“March for Peace and Justice” on April 11th in Coca. Banners include: “we are all brothers”, “yes to peace” and “barrels of oil do not justify the death of anybody”
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Waorani community leaders Penti and Tepa in the March for Peace in front of the Police station of Coca. In the video of Ompure “The Taromenane told me…” Penti says that one day the Waorani and Taromenane “Will have peaceful contact and we can be as one,” and together the two tribes “will defend the territory” from petrol companies.

Snapshots from a deadly revenge expedition


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– Highlight on Page 85 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

A photographic report was made during the expedition [to avenge Ompure]. It is a series of 74 photos taken between the 24th of March and the 2nd of April by one of the explorers. 18 photographs are missing from the series.

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– Highlight on Page 86 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

The snapshots, taken on a digital camera, determine the day, hour and minute of when they were taken. They are, therefore, a primary document to the hour of the confrontation when compared with the following testimonies. If we don’t publish them here intact its obviously to conceal the identities of the protagonists. Revealing them is not our intention. We know at the time of obtaining them that these documents were in the hands of the Ministry of Justice, and therefore the use of them was transferred to the police as well as all legal and political responsibility.

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– Highlight on Page 89 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

The photographic guide resumed on the 30th, at 8:30 in the morning. The expedition had discovered an old Taromenane house that was empty. The expedition believes the attackers [of Ompure and Buganey] stayed here on their return. There are monkey skulls with termites, evidently consumed raw. The importance of the discovery for those is shown in the immediate activity of the reporter: 12 photographs in the following 7 minutes. Its the first Taromenane refuge they find.

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– Highlight on Page 90 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

The expedition finds a winding path, with lots of ups and downs, which they anxiously walk. The group knows they are at a key point. On 15´21 they encounter a bridge again, this time with much more Huangana skulls [wild Amazonian pigs] hanging from the walkway, which opens up into a space around a big house that’s also abandoned. They see bones impaled on a stick lying on the ground at the extreme end of the patio: a large series of skulls bleaching in the sun. The expedition talks of finding bones inside the house as well. A sign to warn off uninvited visitors, or trophies in a house of great hunters?

A Waorani warriors testimony of the massacre

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– Highlight on Page 93 – Unidentified Wao who participated in the massacre

“The Taromenane were singing, a song different to what we sing. It was a strong song, strong. They sung like the monkeys sing. That’s how they sang (he sings trying to imitate them but the lyrics aren’t easy to understand) The song seems like its calling the jungle. Ayyyyy, hear the jungle. Like the call of the animals. They sung strong, strong.

When we arrived at the house we heard a man who was strong. He sung that if he was a jaguar he would become strong: “I don’t respect nobody, I turn into a jaguar.” That’s how they attacked Ompure and Buganey. I killed them. Then the sound of lightning and thunder. The Taromenani said: “when I went armed with my spear everyone ran scared! That’s why I’m here armed. If a jaguar was tied up, when its set free, no one stays around!”

This man sung when we were still far. When I went with Manuel (in the entrance narrated by M. Cawiya) the Taromenani sung there as well. On another occasion, one brother of mine got scared and fainted to hear the song of the Taromenani. They sang like that now. Also my grandmother N. knows a story about an elder Taromenani who sung very strong. At the end of the song they screamed: “Tucuuuu…We come to kill, we are going to eat like the tiger.”

We quickly went on the path. Others sung, watching the path. They were inside the house, spying the path. Inside they were singing but they had two guards. They were looking above, but they did not see us. Someone will come out, we thought, and that’s how we will shoot them. Some said: “I am going to kill them first.” I thought to go on the left hand side. They sung like Bai de Bataburo, that’s what their voice was like. He he he! They were laughing. All of these people singing, all of them destined to die. That’s why I believe they were dedicated to singing, it was their last song.

When it rains hard, they will say do not kill, they will talk strong, the Taromenani, so that we don’t come and kill. Their elder said: “we are keeping watch because enemies are coming.” But the young ones laugh. The elder was warning them, but the young ones didn’t realise. “You are going to die,” repeated the elder, “in the claws of a tiger.”

I. said: “I believe the women are making chica of chonta, that’s why they are singing” We listened in ambush around the house; we kept surrounding it. So that we can kill them as they leave the house! we thought. First you kill, one said, and later we enter. We waited for whoever wanted to initiate. Their young ones were laughing. Two of them came out with spears. When they came out of the door E. was already getting close to the same door of the house to kill them. I believe they came out because the boy wanted to make a relation with the girl.

The girl was right there and realised that we were also coming close. One of them entered the house, the girl stayed outside of the house. A. said “they are all about to come out!” E. went first and afterwards I followed. Around the house it was clean. When we entered on another path, you could hear the spears of the Taromenane inside the house. When they came out we killed them all, we killed them as they came out. We shot the rifles, but it didn’t sound loud. At first they didn’t hear. Two times we shot and they didn’t hear.

Afterwards, with the sound of another bullet, an elder said, “the Cowori have come! run, run, run! Guri, guri, guri.” There was a shootout, the bullets flew and they fell. Blood came out, lots of blood, blood dripping like water. Many people running. A big man managed to run away and hide. “Guri Guri, Guri, run, run, run!” the big man was saying. Run from those that are killing you, run or they will kill you. There were lots of them. One of them we shot in the eye. We killed them like fat Huanganas, fat, that’s how we killed them, equal to the Huanganas. Those that were skinny we left. Blood flowed like a stream of water. We killed each one with a gunshot, we shot them without stopping.

I believe the hand flew with the bullet. I shot a bullet in the stomach of one, but i’m not sure if he lived or died. I’ve only got 4 bullets and I’m out of bullets! We shot them all. There were ten bullets left! You could see well below the trees and shoot. “Look below!” said one. Two Taromenani couples ran. One man came with spears and wanted to kill K., but he couldn’t spear him. You already know how the bullet is: faster. We shot them with bullets and the man who had the spear fell. Another Taromenani was crying, saying we should not have killed them. “We were living well!” complained this man. He was crying when they killed him. “We shouldn’t have killed the family of Ompure because now many have come to kill us,” is how the Taromenani cried.

K. was saying: “Why did you come and kill my father?” Just like what they did to Ompure, we speared them. We nailed them with spears. The same. Now some of us laughed as we killed; several of us laughing as we killed them. V. kept stepping this Taromenani against the ground, then speared him from below so the point came out through the mouth, like they did to Ompure. We felt dizzy. After all the people we killed, we felt dizzy. I believe one of them we cut off the head, we stuck a few heads to a stick is how we got rid of two men.

Afterwards we collected the fallen bullets and hid in the jungle. When we were finished killing, everyone entered the house and we found that they had cooked monkey, paujil, and we ate that food. They didn’t eat tuna. But they had it saved, they had lots. They had Axes, all of them given to them from Ompure. I tipped out the moretal, so that those who lived could not take it. I stopped hurling axes. The chica smelt like the smell of a chiefs nest, thats how Taromenani chica smells. That chica of the Taromenani we came back drinking. We also collected the spears and dart pipes to bring them home. When we were carrying them a Taromenani got up, as if it was alive. It scared us, we left it there and ran away,

When we stopped running, we slept. Afterwards we got up at dawn. The girl who came was soaked wet, she was cold. She cried a lot when she arrived the first time. She cried a lot that girl. She was swollen with crying. We climbed the mountain, the hills, the plains, we climbed up and down, walked and came out on the River Tivacuno. I didn’t think of bringing things. Another time I thought of going back and collecting them. B. wanted to leave them on the hills. Of the monkeys, two monkeys, we came walking. K. stayed asleep. All of us stayed asleep.

The law of the jungle

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– Highlight on age 97 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

Life, tradition, mark this. To die or to live, which is another way to say: you have to kill to live. Its the law of the jungle. Two faces on the same coin that fall towards one side or the other, its a question of change, strength, courage, cunning, and determination.

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– Highlight on Page 98 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

The two following images, at 16´06, show a similar scene on the same minute: a young Taromenane, face down in the jungle, shot in the back and pierced by a spear. Together with her, thrown onto his back on the ground, is a child of 2 or 3 years, seemingly impaled by a spear.
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War trophies: two taromenani girls are kidnapped


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– Highlight on Page 106 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

According to an eyewitness, when they had finished off the wounded and various Waorani dedicated themselves to looking through the property inside the Taromenane house to obtain their booty, a young woman suddenly appeared close who carried with her two girls: C-, already presented here, and D-, her little sister of three years. The three had been outside the house before the assault, maybe in the creek closeby or in some other occupation.

Upset by the shootout, surely seeing the massacre of her family, the woman came to offer herself, or she was discovered, when the climax of the furor had already passed exhausting all the bullets. The narrator insists that, from the beginning she appeared absolutely submissive and pleaded with them to respect the life of the three, offering herself to be the woman of whoever would take them.

In one testimony, the three were surrounded by some of them, while the rest continued their search [for loot and survivors] As she understood them quite well, she was interrogated about the closeness of her other family. She told them that the other [Taromenane] group had been split off and estranged after their assault on the elders [Ompure and Buganey] (who we are certain were identified as Cowori). The other house was a good days walk away. According to her those members were the most aggressive and violent [of the Taromenani]. She listed the names of the fallen members of her family and her neighbours.

Those that listened were in a rush, there was only two hours of sunlight left; less in the jungle. They had to put land in between them in case of a Taromenani counterattack by survivors. Some said to end with the three of them and start the escape. One Waorani laid claim to the two girls, the abduction of girls, both with other groups of Waorani attackers as well as Cowori, is quite a common tradition. Some of them did not accept it, and insisted all of them must die, and it produced a moment of great tension.

The testimony insinuates that there could have been shots fired between Waorani had their weapons not been discharged. Seeing this, the woman offered herself to the veteran, and he was tempted to take her with him. The rest did not permit it and said they should not be in charge of her, she was too old to hold while fleeing. So one of them killed her right there, in front of the eyes of her daughters.

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– Highlight on Page 112 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

Then for almost 20 minutes, perhaps in a high moment on the trip, the improvising reporter, offers us the three last snapshots of the expedition; three beautiful portraits of the two captive girls. They have an impressive paleness, surely the cause of being soaked wet, hungry and cold in the canoe voyage, and for certain the terror and newness of everything they were seeing.
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Police avoid photographic evidence of “unconfirmed” massacre

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– Highlight on Page 104 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

This man was on the streets of Coca with his camera and photos, leisurely giving declarations to the press, offering this barbaric merchandise to the highest bidder. What did the Prosecutors Office do? They didn’t seize or examine the camera (that showed so many things) or the photos. They also decided not to enter [the site of the massacre] and also prohibited the entrance to that theater of events. They did a lot of aerial flights, that yes, something which is harmful for the survivors, we want them to explain to us one day why.
One of the many overflights of the authorities during the first days of April.
One of the many overflights of the authorities during the first days of April. Uncontacted tribes are terrified by low-flying planes and helicopters
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– Highlight on Page 116 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

We can say that, a few days after [the massacre] the photographs of the terrestrial expedition were being sold in Coca to the highest bidder. It seems like the Attorney General and the Judicial Police, with all of their abundant contacts, did not arrive there. Comparing the photos from the ground with those from the air would have left no doubt about the massacre. The police argued that the unknown dangers were too great to go there [into the Intangible Zone to examine the scene of the crime]
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– Highlight on Page 118 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

Outside of sporadic visits of scarce bureaucrats from the Attorney and Justice offices, the presence of the State has shone brighter than ever by its absence. We have seen distinct [government] officials hesitant in their behavior, contradicting each other, making unjustifiable promises. Despite what was often expressed by the Attorney General, the fact is that a climate of impunity has been established in the communities as if they had gained definitive ground from the State.

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– Highlight on Page 123 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

This is a very sad story. Not only because of the amount of innocent victims, more than that because it reflects beyond the errors of government injustice, an incomprehensible and generalized human and cultural insensitivity inside Ecuador. Also in international news networks which barely reported on this. As we said, it is more terrible when you consider that killing was not an exception. It was not a surprise, it was preventable.

“The terrible scourge of genocide”


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– Highlight on Page 124 – Miguel Angel Cabodevilla

In this, as in the terrible scourge of genocide of the people in that uninhabited jungle, the Government should have the responsibility it wants given. But, of course, it is not their exclusive fault. Neither of these misguided officials invented the disaster that has come to mean the annihilation of uncontacted groups. To say this is to deceive, to not see the obvious.

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– Highlight on Page 158 – Milagros Aguirre

First of April: two girls captured. Taken by force from the heart of the jungle after a horrific massacre of their family members. Two girls who can die from the common cold. Two innocent girls, terrified. One with the son of Ompure, the other with another. Girls who are the legacy of vengeance. Girls who are witnesses. Girls who are trophies of war, of a war without sense, of deaths that could have been prevented, or at least attempted. If the deaths of Los Reyes could not have been prevented, or the Ompure’s death either, for being truly unpredictable, this attack seemed predictable and obvious because of the 20 days that elapsed.

President Correa’s first public statement


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– Highlight on Page 159 – Milagros Aguirre

On April 6th President Correa made his first statement about the topic on his Saturday TV appearance. “They talk of 18 dead, but until now they haven’t found a single cadaver.” He continued: “unfortunately there have been grave problems between the Contacted and Uncontacted tribes. Various aerial expeditions have been sent, terrestrial, but we don’t know. This is an extremely difficult and complex case because of its nature.” Correa denied the conflict was related to the activity of petrol companies in the zone. “Nothing to do with the petrol companies, its a problem between clans.”

Municipal governor celebrates the massacre?


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– Highlight on Page 160 – Milagros Aguirre

The vigilantes were happy and proud of their achievement. They show the huge thick spears stolen from one of the Tagaeri / Taromenani houses after the assault. Each one of them has one. They surround the Governor and have their photos taken with her. The photo appears on the Facebook of the Governors Office of Orellana Province, (all officials enjoy the way that social networks, Facebook and Twitter, let them communicate with their constituents) with an alusive text about the visit which says that the Waorani of Yarentaro sent, like a souvenir, a Taromenani spear to the President of the Republic… And that they are now in peace. That calm has returned to the Waorani communities. That Yarentaro and the Government have reached an agreement.
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– Highlight on Page 160 – Milagros Aguirre

Does this perhaps show a hidden agenda? A machevelian plan of premeditated extermination? Or was it simply the slip of a government official who had no idea what to do in such a complicated situation?

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– Highlight on Page 161 – Milagros Aguirre

The Government, through its representatives, celebrating a victory? And recieving a war spear like a trophy as if it was part of national folklore? Ecuador loves life, as the government slogan says? This photo – and the narrative – were deleted immediately off the Internet to avoid misinterpretations.

“Convicting Ecuador of genocide by inaction or malpractice”


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– Highlight on Page 161 – Milagros Aguirre

The same day 9 [of April] both the Governor and the police in Coca gave a public statement to the media: “You cannot confirm the massacre, the massacre is just a rumour” Meanwhile, Cawetipe Yeti, president Nawe, armed the newspaper El Comercio – and also the television – that this was not a rumour, that this was true, and gave concrete statements.

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– Highlight on Page 168 – Milagros Aguirre

On the 23 of April, David Romero appeared on telelvision in an exclusive interview, on the program Day to Day on TeleAmazonas. He confessed to having killed 5 people and doing it with spears. “I killed!” he said, “because i’m a warrior”. There also appeared on television a young man, son of one of the vigilantes. “My father killed, killed a lot of people” On the 30th, the Attorney General Chiriboga said on the television channels “There is no proof of this alleged massacre” and that “the investigation has not yet been able to establish the veracity of the information in the number of deaths” At the end of his declaration he assured “yes there was an attack” but did not say if there was or not any deaths.

For those of us in Coca, and in the countryside, informed of what had happened, all this was absurd. One day a boy confesses to the crime and another day, the authorities come out to conceal the facts. One day the leader of Nawe, Cawetipe Yeti, asserts that there had been many dead. The other day, the Attorney General of the nation comes out saying there is no proof. And days later, indicates that there were poisonings from food thrown out of the sky from who knows who and with what interests.

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– Highlight on Page 170 – Milagros Aguirre

The result of this confrontation between officials and managers of two branches of government and lack of coordination between different institutions, the powers attributed to one or the other, were effective at only one thing: silence. The silence to shield the country against any international criticism referring to a possible sanction, a call to attention or convicting Ecuador of genocide by inaction or malpractice. Silence is better. The party of silence.

The fate of the two kidnapped girls


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– Highlight on Page 180 – Milagros Aguirre

For some reason that escapes our understanding, the silence became a slogan and, in some cases, was accompanied by fear, in these almost six months from the 5th of March. Workers on the zoo-creidero project, located 200 metres from where Ompure and Buganey died, were witnesses to this fact. They did not or could not talk about the theme. An anthropologist gave an interview to the newspaper El Telégrafo and was summoned by the police because of his opinion (or because of the use of an official communication medium to give his statement). They told him to rectify his public statement that he made in the newspaper in question. He received threatening calls from people who had worked on some projects. And the panic spread.

A group of women tried to talk about the problem of the kidnapped girls, giving their point of view and putting on the table their legitimate worries that the elder girl pointed and confronted one of the men, accusing him of killing her mother. They knew that, for at least those first days, she cried saying her grandmother and uncle were coming to find her. They said that when she heard the rain coming, when the jungle announced oncoming thunder and lightning, “she hid like a rat”, still hostage of her fear.

Months had already passed and nobody had an idea what was going to happen to the two children that had been forced to live with their kidnappers, that now wore clothes, who refused to eat anything, who were being photographed, who were now living in houses of cement like the ones in the communities of Dikaro and Yarentaro, to learn about things like cars, televisions, cameras, and tablets.

We knew that the younger girl was living in Awemuro, near Kawimeno, with one of the sons of Ompure those first months. Later she was changed to a house in Dikaro of one of the other expeditionaries. For her, for D-, the younger one, it will surely be easier to forget and adapt to this new reality of her new parents. For the other it will cost her more….she will suffer with moderate rage, but will learn to get used to it…

The women signed a petition on Avaaz.org (that didn’t pass 100 signatures) so that the State takes responsibility for the girls, using the pseudonym to avoid retaliations. They presented several scenarios to the authorities, from the possibility of returning the girls to their clan, to the temporary custody of other Waorani families [who were not involved in the massacre]. They neither obtained a response to their request or opened a debate on the topic: its better not to speak, of certain things, to paraphrase the title of a recent Ecuadorian film.

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– Highlight on Page 181 – Milagros Aguirre

The girls had the status of protected witnesses of the Attorney General, but were made to live with their kidnappers. Didn’t the rapporteur for the United Nations, Mr. Anaya, say that the state must guarantee the physical and psychological safety of the girls? Who is the authority, entity, or instituion that has this competence? We asked the group of women in private because, in public, its better not to speak of certain things. Inside the politically correct, the result is it becomes best not to intervene or comment. Even though this accommodates unspeakable suffering, to live with those who ended your family, you can say it with a sort of irony that in the case of the Uncontacted Girls the only way to contact them is through the people that killed their parents.
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The Welfare of Conta and her sister Daboka


I hope after reading these excerpts you have concluded, as I did after reading the book, that a full English translation is needed to warn the international community about what is happening in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The censorship of A Hidden Tragedy was shortlived but fortunately the hamfisted attempt at prohibition accomplished one thing: the blogosphere, social media, and every newspaper in Ecuador were discussing the fate of the two kidnapped Taromenane girls the government had abandoned in the hands of those that butchered their family.

It also stoked the Ecuadorian government to partake in a stupidly disproportional publicity stunt to rescue the girls depicted in the Newsweek article After all the people we killed we felt dizzy. Today we know the elder Taromenane girl, Conta, is under the care of Penti, the highly respected Waorani community leader. The whereabouts of her younger sister Daboka are believed to be with those who were responsible for the death of her family.

A Hidden Tragedy is not the only book to come out of this troubled region that has captured the worlds imagination and provided a window into the Amazon’s heart of darkness. While the theme and setting may remind some of the highly acclaimed 1989 novella The Old Man Who Read Love Stories about the increasing stupidity of modern man in the Ecuadorian Amazon, there will no doubt be comparisons by rosy-eyed missionaries to the 1961 cult-classic The Savage, My Kinsmen

There are however two other books that I believe A Hidden Tragedy resembles more deeply: the first is Eduardo Galeano’s 1971 international bestseller Open Veins of Latin America (which was also censored) in the way it furthers our understanding on how the western world’s thirst for resources is plundering the Amazon.

Then there is the renowned 1924 masterpiece of Latin American literature known as The Vortex – translated into English, French, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Polish and Japanese – which warned the world about the extermination of indigenous tribes enslaved on the Amazonian rubber plantations of Putumayo, less than a century before and little more than a hundred kilometers north, from where the extermination of the Taromenane tribe is currently taking place.
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A Massacre, An Oil Multinational and Chief Ompore’s Last Smile

in Citizen Journalism/Food & Water Security/Human Rights by
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Chief Ompore smiles at a PowerPoint Presentation.
Chief Ompore smiles at the animals projected on a PowerPoint presentation (click to enlarge)

Chief Ompore couldn’t stop smiling as he watched photos of Amazonian animals get projected across the Town Hall wall of Yarentaro – a remote village in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park inside what oil companies call “Block 16.”

It was the 14th of December 2012 and the Spanish oil giant RepSol that administers the petroleum block had funded a project as part of its Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development Strategy “designed to alleviate pressure on the forest and to restore the ecosystem to its original state.”

RepSol’s project to offset the hundreds of millions of dollars of crude oil being pumped out of Block 16 was to build a “zoo-creidero” or animal hatchery. Since big oil moved in bushmeant had become increasingly scarce in the Waorani tribe’s formerly bountiful hunting grounds but once the zoo-creidero was completed those same wild animals getting projected against the wall could be bred for food in captivity.

On the 5th of March 2013, less than three months after these photos were taken, Ompore Omeway was murdered. His body and that of his wife Buganey were found impaled with spears inside RepSol’s Block 16 and the prime suspects were an uncontacted Amazonian tribe inside the Yasuní National Park called the Taromenane.

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“We were surprised to see Ompore at the door,” says a RepSol contractor, “he was timid at first but once he saw the animal photos he couldn’t stop smiling.”
Before the month of March ended an estimated 30 men, women and children of the Taromenane tribe were massacred in a battle that pitched wooden spears against modern weaponry.

Two Taromenane girls, aged 3 and 6, were kidnapped by those that killed their tribe while members of the Ecuadorian government spent seven months downplaying the massacre. Some even casted doubt on whether the Taromenane still exist.

This uncontacted tribe that is now fighting for survival against genocide live on lands that hold an estimated 846 million barrels of crude oil.

Amazon Oil Highways & Illegal Meat Markets

RepSol Ecuador
RepSol is without a doubt the most responsible oil company in the history of Ecuador’s dirty oil industry.

The Spanish company has invested in education and schools in Yarentaro unlike their predecessors (Dallas based oil company Maxus) who were responsible for 29,355 hectares deforestation of primary rainforest and forbid Waorani from forming coalitions with indigenous groups outside of Block 16.

The last stop in western civilization before Block 16 is the illegal meat market of Pompeya where spider monkeys and tapirs, macaws and peccaries are sold wholesale for those with a taste for endangered flesh or trafficked onto the international black market.

Yarentaro is half an hour by boat or one and a half by car from Pompeya on the via Maxus – a formerly unpoliced “oil highway” built by Maxus – which gave commercial loggers and hunters access to the impenetrable depths of the Yasuni National Park where they stripped it like a plague of locusts.

Today getting to Yarentaro in Block 16 is illegal without a laminated photo ID issued by RepSol. The 40km speed limit to prevent noise pollution is strictly enforced with controls where guards pen down the time it took your vehicle to reach: the first speeding fine is $800, the second time its $3,000, the third you are banned from Block 16.

Chief Ompore looks at the whiteboard and (overexposed) projection
Chief Ompore looks at the whiteboard and (overexposed) projection

Younger generations of Waorani can enter and exit Block 16 freely without RepSol ID cards but carry Ecuadorian cedular’s just in case.

For Waorani like Ompore, who were born “Before Contact” and have never worn western clothes with their accompanying deep pockets, carrying identification is a little trickier.

But the guards, engineers, scientists, and contract workers in RepSol’s Block 16 all knew of Chief Ompore.

Ompore wasn’t just the Cacique of Yarentaro, he was the only person alive to have made peaceful contact with the mythical Taromenane and lived to tell the tale, as documented in this remarkable video:

A Hidden Tragedy: Ompore’s Last Moments Alive

As the Ecuadorian police seemingly stonewalled the investigation into the Taromenane massacre an unlikely team comprising of a Spanish anthropologist monk Miguel Ángel Cabodevilla and the veteran Ecuadorian journalist Milagros Aguirre began asking questions.

footprints
Footprint of the Taromenane. Investigators say they walk only on the tip of their feet.”(source: El Universo)
Why did the Taromenane attack almost a year to the day after the Chief claimed in the video above he had made peaceful contact with this uncontacted tribe?

They documented their findings in a book called A Hidden Tragedy which was prohibited from circulation in Ecuador “over any medium” at 5:43pm on September 24th, a full seventeen minutes before its presentation to the public.

The coverup backfired as the book’s digital PDF appeared on blogs, torrents, twitter, dropbox and facebook as Ecuadorians circumvented censorship and turned it viral – the ensuing scandal forced the book ban to be overturned.

In the book Cabodevilla and Aguirre piece together Ompore’s last day alive for clues: On the 5th of March he left his jungle hut with his wife Buganey before dawn wearing nothing but gumboots and a machete, carrying gifts of bushmeat for his family in Yarentaro.

Today the way younger generations of Waorani blasted their radios in Yarentaro annoyed the late Chief enough to build his home with Buganey away from the high-tech comforts of Contact three hours walk into the jungle. As he arrived on the village outskirts before 8am it was those same radios booming over the top of the drills, saws and hammers constructing the zoo-creidero that prevented the master hunter from hearing the ambush.

[quote]The aftermath was documented with the very technology that generations of Waorani born After Contact have embraced: cellphones.[/quote]
Buganey is in agony while being carried in a hammock to a doctor (source: http://polificcion.wordpress.com/)
Buganey is in agony while being carried in a hammock to a doctor (source: Polificcion)
“We have verified various videos and many photos of those first moments” writes Cabodevilla who transcribes the screams of Buganey:“Cut the spear! Cut the spear with a knife so I can live! Grab the spear, Hold it! I’m still alive but if you pull out the spear I will die…Give me water, put water on my head…hold the spear…”

She died an hour later.

The voice of one of her children screams: “I am going to kill them all! I am going to kill all of the Taromenani!”

A woman replies: “don’t talk like that!”

The body of Ompore was found near the river where he ran to escape the ambush. He’d been fatally wounded and fell into the leaflitter before propping himself up in a half-sitting position and died, impaled with nine spears more than three meters long and covered with colorful feathers. ompure-spears

There was no speed limit on the via Maxus the afternoon of Ompore’s murder as RepSol began withdrawing its personel from Block 16 in seeming anticipation of the tribal war to follow.

The next day the Bishop of Coca, Jesús Sábado, arrived in Yarentaro with two members of the FAL Foundation. One of the members filmed the Waorani community using a computer connected to the projector to show the Bishop and everyone else gathered a grainy cellphone video of Buganey, the Waorani elder born Before Contact, her dying breaths cast across the Town Hall wall for all to see.

[quote]In the video a woman’s voice shouts:“Ompure had already warned them, he already knew but you all did nothing. Two days ago the Taromenane left a sign; they bent a banana plant and put there a spear.”[/quote]

The question is: Why did the Taromenane attack Ompore Omewey? Read excerpts from A Hidden Tragedy translated into English to find out yourself. [mc4wp_form]

Oil & Genocide: Why We Must Protect the Human Rights of Uncontacted Tribes in Ecuador’s Yasuní

in Citizen Journalism/Environmental Activism/Human Rights by

As the Ecuadorian government begins drilling for oil in the Yasuni National Park – one of the most biodiverse regions on Planet Earth – human rights lawyer Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca discusses the existential threat of genocide facing the uncontacted tribes within this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

1. Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador.

Waorani in the initial stages of contact [photographer unknown]
Waorani in the initial stages of contact [photographer unknown]
Historically Ecuador and its governments have failed to clearly address the “problems of nationalities and peoples” who live in its geographical territory.

According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) the country has 14 indigenous nationalities 9 of which live in the Amazon like the Waorani.

The issue of nationalities has experienced several legal, anthropological, and political debates about indigenous rights.

More recently oil exploitation in the Yasuni and the ITT region has reignited this debate about the fate of at least one nationality and two peoples – the Waorani Nationality of which the Taromenane and Tagaeri uncontacted tribes are apart.

Localización_del_Parque_YasuniA recent report by Ecuadorian anthropologists indicates that there are at least four isolated groups in the Yasuni National Park while other researches mention seven:“Katty Álvarez, a researcher in the lower basin of the Amazon, has identified groups making up families of uncontacted tribes. For example, exist Iwene group, known as ‘the people of coconuts’, in [petroleum] blocks 14 and 17″

Towards the border with Perú there is the Feromenani group, with its main anatomical feature being small earlobes, being very similar to the Tagaeris, confirmed the researcher. These groups live among the Napo and Tigres basin. Further south, however, there would be another group living in isolation called the Pananjuri of the Arabela linguistic branch.”

The one thing common to all uncontacted tribes and peoples living in voluntary isolation is that they are indigenous, and assuming their existence in this special situation, more attention should be given to any policy to do with their rights, their land, and the environment where they live.

1.1. Indigenous Peoples Living in Constrained or Voluntary Isolation:

To characterize the complexity of the question of uncontacted tribes an accurate description is necessary for its comprehension. The Guidelines of protection for indigenous peoples in isolation (OHCHR, 2012) state:[quote]”for these peoples, isolation is not a voluntary option but a survival strategy (para. 8)”

“While there is no consensus on the term to be used to refer to these people, in the international arena the most commonly used concept is “peoples in isolation.” In some countries they are known as, inter alia, free people, uncontacted, hidden, invisible, in voluntary isolation. Despite the different formulations, all refer to the same concept (para. 9)”[/quote]

Lets focus on: “for these peoples, isolation is not a voluntary option but a survival strategy”

The Tagaeri and Taromenane and other newly identified peoples would be within this category or concept so it is important to take into account legislation and how to implement it.

The United Nations has said that these peoples called names like hidden, isolated, and free are living in isolation for survival over desire: survival from diseases, food shortages from illegal hunting, timber harvesting, mining and quarrying, environmental contamination, which is common to indigenous peoples in Latin America and the world.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThe survival of the Taromenane has been greatly threatened by events like the last oil spill SOTE of May 31, 2013, which according to official versions consisted of 10,000 barrels of oil that ended up in the Coca and Napo Rivers reaching Brazil and contaminating the water supply downstream that uncontacted tribes use to drink.

Other than fixing the pipeline no public or private institution has attempted to clean this spill.

 

2. The Human Rights of the Waorani, Tagaeri-Taromenane and other Uncontacted Tribes

In legal terms we would say that all human rights, international treaties, the Ecuadorian Constitution, as well as Inter-American Court rulings, fully apply to indigenous peoples and that we need to defend their rights whether they have made contact or still live in isolation.

Indigenous peoples however rarely share the same situation as the common folk of a country. We can talk about legal equality but overlook a history of discrimination, exploitation, genocide, poverty and violations of their ancestral rights which require special legislation to take into account these needs.

In the case of contacted tribes there exists the ILO Convention N.169 and several judgements from the Interamerican Court of Human rights but for uncontacted tribes there is no legislation, despite a greater need for their protection.

Currently there is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted at the 107th. plenary session on September 13, 2007, a project of the Organization of American States. They do not however expressly mention uncontacted tribes or isolated peoples except for nomadic peoples in which we can legally categorize isolated peoples even though its lacking.

Photo of uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.
Photo of uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.
Something to keep in mind is that indigenous peoples have their own rights which were forged over its history, customs, culture, being the social norm in their groups. Customary law can also be applied in cases of their territories.

The violence against their human rights has been a constant threat to these people over history (oil companies seeking to enter their territory, the Summer Institute of Linguistics, state controlled oil companies, NGOs, government and the list goes on) these practices have led to the extermination of native peoples.

In the case of uncontacted tribes, very few human rights violations have been made public such as the massacre of Taromenane on 29, 2013. The jungle however obscures many more events: disputes with loggers, big oil, the army, drug trafficking and narco-gangs as well as water pollution.

2.1. Stop Racism and Discrimination

Throughout history indigenous peoples have suffered discrimination from their colonizers, treating them as inferior and with less rights – evident today in Orellana province for the Waorani. With an industry like oil where land grabs are made by multinationals that utilize trickery and the bribing of indigenous leaders to divide and conquer the community.

Shaman Ecuador AmazonRacism adds to the discrimination of poverty in which recently contacted tribes face a lack of basic services like potable clean water, sewerage and sanitation systems as well as education and health.

Technology however is often accessible to these groups and it’s not strange to see younger generations with telephones in a community without clean drinking water.

The government policy on education remains standardized and does not respect the Waorani culture. Most schools in the Amazon employ incompetent teachers – except for a few schools funded by the oil company Repsol in Block 16. Other communities have a low educational level which glosses over the local culture, language, and teaching methods.

In the case of isolated peoples discrimination and racism is everywhere and is more noticeable when they are not even factored into oil exploration plans disrespecting their territory.

At times this has entered the level of farce when the deaths of members of these villages cannot be investigated because they do not have identity cards as the public prosecutor said in 2003. In another recent case prosecutors have denied the existence of these isolated peoples and even though there is evidence of crimes it has not convicted one illegal logger, oil worker or military man, for violating the Yasuní protected territory or providing modern weapons to the Waorani to kill the Taromenane.

Left behind is Article 66 paragraph 4, and 57 paragraph 2 of the Ecuadorian Constitution on formal equality, material and non-discrimination, the right pending to comply – the state must move from being a discriminatory state on the ground and ensure the equality mentioned in its constitution.

2.2. Self-Determination

On the right of self-determination there has existed various ideas, among them the right of the total independence of a people to form a new state, their own.

For the right of indigenous peoples we refer to the right to control their institutions, territories, resources, social justice, culture without interference or external domination and their right to establish their relationship with the dominant society and the state is on the basis of consensus.

This is to say not total independence of a state but the recognition and legal protection of their rights internationally given the vulnerability of many indigenous peoples.

In the case of uncontacted tribes different authors say that the ultimate expression of self-determination is the right to respect their decision to remain in isolation, as they know of the existence of other peoples or cowori (strangers) but the will of the State is kept at a distance. The right to remain isolated as Berraondo Mikel says [quote]”… is the ultimate expression of the right to self-determination that becomes the key that guarantees respect for traditional ways of life and social and political organization. While respecting their decision to remain isolated, uncontacted peoples retain their traditional systems of organization … and respect for their decision may be understood as recognition or legitimacy of their own systems of government and organization by external actors and governments of states whose territories are the territories of uncontacted peoples.”[/quote]

Waorani in the initial stages of contact with western civilization.
Waorani in the initial stages of contact with western civilization on the Shiripuno River.
With the peoples in initial contact such as the Waorani (pictured right) their right to self-determination, to exercise their own organization, has been hit hard by the oil industry.

This industry has violated traditional organizational forms, though in rare cases they consult the Pikenani (elders) when making decisions.

The state has been very negligent in caring for people in the initial stages of contact, leaving them to their fate, in which there has been a failure to act in cases where ethnocide has occured like what happened to the now extinct Tetete tribe and similar to what is currently happening with the Taromenane.

2.3. Territory and Environment

ecuador deforestation
Deforestation on the Napo River
Territory and environment are considered as one for Ecuador’s indigenous peoples, they correlate and all activities develop around them. The law is understood as for the collective and not the individual.

This right is considered a right for indigenous solidarity – to sustain the environment for future generations.

This right has always existed in the customary rights of tribes and their are many historical cases of their defense, although currently there are no maps, no paths, no landmarks to delineate the borders between Taromenane, Tagaeri or Waorani territory.

These people fight in defense of their ancestral lands, to maintain their privacy, preserve the land for their future generations. As was made clear in a remarkable video filmed of the late Chief Ompure of the Waorani, believed to be the only person on the planet who was in contact with the Taromenane.

Chief Ompure was later murdered which led to a massacre of uncontacted Taromenane and the kidnapping of two Taromenane girls.

The Ecuadorian government has stalled answering simple questions about whether natural resources found in indigenous territories, especially that of uncontacted tribes, will be leveraged across the country. The answer to those questions can be found in a recent case on Sarayacu territory where upon explosives were used without consent or or respect for those that inhabited the area.

The Interamerican Court said in its final sentence that this was a violation of territorial rights and it has to be emphasized that the resources found in indigenous territories also belong to these people.

[quote]Article. 57 of the Ecuadorian Constitution
“The territories of the peoples in voluntary isolation are irreducible and intangible and they shall be closed to all extractive activities. The state has adopted measures to guarantee there lives, enforce their self-determination and will to remain in isolation and safeguard the enforcement of their rights. The violation of these rights shall constitute the crime of ethnocide which will be criminalized by law.”[/quote]

The ILO Convention 169 guarantees the right of indigenous or native peoples to own and control without limits their lands and territories in art. 13 as well as articles 10, 25, 26, 27, 28 and others in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

2.4. Culture

contacted tribeThe establishment of homogenous states where everybody speaks a single language, receives standardized education, and live similar conformist lifestyles is one of the victories of capitalism ending the kind of cultures that oppose their system.

The homogenous culture favours development of the capatilist state and the free market where consumption becomes more important than creativity.

The most affected have been indigenous peoples because more than just struggling to survive they are seeking to save what is left of their culture.

[pullquote align=”right”]Here we must also remember the violation of intellectual property: recent research reveals that the Waorani had blood samples taken from them without permission by people close to the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

These blood samples were sent to laboratories around the world to study their DNA – a clear violation genetic heritage.
[/pullquote]

With uncontacted peoples as we have said, the defense of their culture is closely linked to the defense of their life and their right to self-determination.

The right of uncontacted peoples to exist has been elevated to the category of IUS COGENS in international law so that all states have an obligation to protect the existence of uncontacted peoples, no state can play down its obligation.

All members of the international community must prevent and punish the crime of genocide, which so strongly threatens the existence of uncontacted tribes.

Violating the territory of a people and their self-determination qualifies as ethnocide under our legislation in Ecuador.

The criminalization for ethnocide does not exist and has never been applied even though as stated above there are already cases of tribes disappearing as well as attempts to facilitate the disappearence of uncontacted tribes like the Taromenane and Tagaeri. The crime of genocide should apply to those who blatantly vote for oil exploration in the territories of uncontacted tribes.

2.5. Free and Informed Prior Consent and Consultation

Section 7 of art. 57 of the Ecuadorian Constitution states with regards to indigenous peoples:
[quote]”The free, prior and informed, within a reasonable period on plans and programs of exploration, exploitation and marketing of non-renewable resources that are on their land and that may affect their environment and culture, participate in the benefits deriving from such projects and to receive compensation for damages social, cultural and environmental factors that cause them. The inquiry to be conducted by competent authorities is mandatory and timely. If the consent of the community consulted is not obtained, will proceed according to the Constitution and the law.

A free and informed prior consultation, within a reasonable timeframe, about prospecting plans and programs, the exploitation and comercialization of unrenewable resources that are found on thier land that may affect their environment or culture; to participate in the benefits derived from such projects and receive compensation for damages to social, cultural, and environmental factors caused to them. The consultation to be conducted in a timely manner by competent authorities is mandatory. If consent is not obtained from the community consulted, proceeds must conform with the Constitution and the law.”[/quote] The Interamerican Court of Human Rights however has stated in several judgments that communities and indigenous peoples should be guaranteed the right to prior consent that is free and informed.

This differs from The Right to Prior Consultation and is mandatory that the consent of communities, a right that best corresponds to indigenous peoples, is a right that is also enshrined Convention 169 of the ILO and the Declaration of the United Nations for Indigenous Peoples.

Prior consent that is free and informed, without harassment that stems primarily from exploitative companies, is a right to all indigenous peoples concerning their territories and resources. Currently this has become a weapon to defend the territories of farms, also it sometimes limits the state and its extractive endeavors, says Mikel Berraondo, an expert on human rights for indigenous villages: [quote]”One of its aims is to regulate and limit the implementation by States using the doctrines of public interest or social need that have become the perfect legal and political instrument to subrogate the rights of indigenous peoples and keep them always in the background to prioritize the rights of the majority.

Consent must be given freely, should be obtained by project implementers prior to the start of activities, and must be granted by the affected villages being based on the full understanding of the broad scope of all the issues involved in the activities or decisions in question. Hence the formulation and free, prior and informed”[/quote]

disaster ecuador chevron texaco
In many indigenous villages this “consent” has been achieved by force, trickery, lavish gifts and lies. This “consent” is not valid and is in clear violation of the right to be consulted.

Also consent must be given by a majority of the inhabitants but what happens in many cases is the community leader signs a document in exchange for “favors”

¿But what happens to uncontacted tribes? How can we understand the right to free and informed consent? Mikel Berraondo contests that: [quote]“In the case of uncontacted peoples, the critical importance of duel systems to limit and protect facilitates the application of this principal. Limitation, enforces the application of this principle by completely preventing and limiting the possibilities to act on the territories of uncontacted peoples, without their consent one cannot perform any action within their territories, and the pursuit of consent by force or coercion would expose serious human rights violations, among which include the crime of genocide.

And protection, precisely because of the fact that its consent is a prerequisite for any action on their territories means that any intrusion into their territories or cultures means a violation of their rights, among which, as just mentioned, includes the crime of genocide which is generated between violating and acting without consent.”[/quote]

As Mikel Berraondo states in the case of indigenous peoples there must be free and informed prior consent and in the case of uncontacted tribes there can be no type of exploitation on their territories or of their resources.

amazon pollutionHere we must clarify that the right of self-determination for uncontacted tribes means protecting their territory by preventing exploitation and not because there exists a zone declared intangible, which is to say that we must see the right to life of these people, the IUS COGENS.

In the case of Ecuador and the Yasuní we can say that we have two arguments against oil extracting activity: the first is based on an executive order declaring the Intangible Zone as well as the fundamental right to self-determination of indigenous Waorani in the region.

The second argument is the right of self-determination for the uncontacted tribes in the region and the protection of the principal of Free and Informed Prior Consultation: Limitation and Protection.

The legal loophole the Ecuadorian government is using to exploit blocks 31 and 43 of the Yasuni ITT is Article 407 of the country’s constitution that states: [quote]”prohibits extractive non-renewable resources in protected areas and areas designated as intangible, including logging, and in exceptional cases exploitation of these resources can be based on a request by the President of the Republic after a declaration of national interest by the National Assembly, which he sees fit may call a referendum.”[/quote]

But this foundation is lacking in respect for international norms and treaties ratified by Ecuador. It even contradicts the Ecuadorian Constitution which says the State’s duty is to ensure the human rights enshrined in the Constitution and in international instruments, in accordance with that which is stated in the second clause of articles 424 and 426 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador.

oil ecuador tribesFinally we must alert the world that the 10th Round Table for Oil is coming to tender oil blocks found on indigenous ancestral territories, in some cases the blocks cover the entire territory.

16% of Waorani territory will be affected by the new petroleum blocks and in the case of the Achuar, Andoas, Shiwiar y Zapara nationalities these blocks will occupy all of their territory.

The Ecuadorian government has said it carried out a prior consultation, but not the procedure it should have done, so this round again violates the rights of indigenous peoples.

All this is happening in the beurocratic jungle of paper and decrees while environmentalists and NGO’s continue the resistance against big oil on the ground in the jungle.

Neither the army nor the police or government have been able to erase from the minds of indigenous people and mestizos the catastrophic contamination caused by petroleum exploitation. In the words of one fighter on the “battlefield” against the petroleum giant Chevron Texaco: [quote]“We’ll fight this until hell freezes over and then we’ll fight it on the ice.”[/quote] [mc4wp_form]

Petróleo y el Genocidio: Yasuní y los Derechos Humanos de Pueblos Indígenas Aislados

in Derechos Humanos/Periodismo Ciudadano/Periodismo Guerrillero by

Este articulo sobre el parque nacional Yasuní y los Derechos Humanos de las comunidades indígenas aislados, es escrito de Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca, un abogado de derechos humanos quien ha trabajado por varios años para proteger y defender a las personas vulnerables que viven en la Amazonia Ecuatoriana.

huaorani-tribe-spears

1. Las nacionalidades indígenas en Ecuador

Históricamente Ecuador y sus gobiernos no han sabido afrontar claramente el “problemas de las nacionalidades y pueblos” que conviven en el territorio geográfico.

Según la Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE) en el país existen 14 nacionalidades, en la amazonía 9 entre ellas la Waorani.

El tema de las nacionalidades ha atravesado varios debates jurídicos, antropológicos, políticos sobre sus derechos y, últimamente el Yasuní y la explotación del campo ITT los ha retomado al estar involucrados al menos una nacionalidad y dos pueblos, la Nacionalidad Waorani y el pueblo Taromenane-Tagaeri.

Localización_del_Parque_YasuniUn reciente informe de antropólogos ecuatorianos señala que existen en el Parque Yasuní al menos cuatro grupos aislados, mientras que otros análisis mencionan hasta siete.
“Katty Álvarez, investigadora en la cuenca baja del Amazonas, expuso que se han identificado grupos de familias de pueblos indígenas no contactados. Así, por ejemplo, existiría el grupo iwene, conocido como ‘la gente de los cocos’, en los bloque 14 y 17.

Hacia la frontera con Perú estaría el grupo feromenani, que tendría como principal característica anatómica que el lóbulo de las orejas es pequeño, siendo muy similar a los tagaeris, afirmó la investigadora. Estos grupos están entre la cuenca del Napo y el Tigres. Más al sur, en cambio, habría otro grupo en aislamiento llamado pananjuri, de tronco lingüístico arabela.”

Lo que tienen en común todas las nacionalidades y los pueblos en aislamiento constreñido o voluntario es que son pueblos indígenas, y por lo tanto se les debe tratar como tales, asumir su existencia, y tener en cuenta en toda política que tenga que ver con sus derechos, territorio, medio ambiente, pero con mayor atención por su situación especial.

1.1. Pueblos Indígenas en Aislamiento Constreñidos o Voluntario:

Para caracterizar la complejidad de la cuestión de los pueblos en aislamiento; la descripción es una opción primaria de la comprensión, la mutilación de la descripción produce una mutilación también del real.

Las Directrices de protección para los pueblos indígenas en aislamiento (OACNUDH, 2012) declaran:[quote]“para estos pueblos el aislamiento no ha sido una opción voluntaria sino una estrategia de supervivencia (parr. 8)”“Si bien no existe consenso sobre el término que debe utilizarse para denominar a estos pueblos, en el ámbito internacional el concepto más utilizado es el de “pueblos en aislamiento”. En algunos países se los conoce como, inter alia, pueblos libres, no contactados, ocultos, invisibles, en aislamiento voluntario. A pesar de las formulaciones diferentes, todas ellas hacen referencia al mismo concepto (parr. 9)”[/quote]

Acrecentamos en: “aislamiento como estrategia de supervivencia y no de voluntariedad”.

Los pueblos Tagaeri y Taromenane y el resto de pueblos recién identificados se encontrarían dentro de esta categoría o concepto, esto es importante para luego poder tener en cuenta la legislación a aplicarse y como aplicarse.

Naciones Unidas con respecto a los pueblos que han sido llamados de un sin número de formas, ocultos, ocultados, aislados, libres… ha dicho que lo general a todos es que su aislamiento es una forma de supervivencia y no de voluntariedad, supervivencia por las enfermedades, alimentación, explotación de la madera, industria extractiva, contaminación ambiental, que es algo común en los pueblos que se encuentran en América Latina y el mundo.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREAdemás la supervivencia de los pueblos Taromenane se ha visto muy amenazada por hechos como el último derrame petrolero del SOTE del 31 de mayo de 2013, que según versiones oficiales fue de 10.000 barriles de petróleo que fueron a parar en el Río Coca y Napo, llegando hasta Brasil, contaminando a los pueblos que la beben y la ocupan sin que nadie, ninguna institución pública o privada haya hecho algo al respecto.

2. Los Derechos Humanos de los Waorani, Tagaeri-Taromenane y otros pueblos en aislamiento

A nivel jurídico diríamos que todos los derechos humanos, tratados internacionales, Constitución del Ecuador, sentencias de la Corte Interamericana, se aplican plenamente para los pueblos indígenas y la defensa de sus derechos, se encuentren en contacto o en aislamiento.

Pero los pueblos indígenas no se encuentran en la misma situación que el común de un país, podemos hablar de una igualdad jurídica pero no de una material ni formal por su condición, por la discriminación, la historia de explotación y genocidio, pobreza, violación a sus derechos ancestrales, por lo tanto se necesita de una legislación especial que tenga en cuenta estas necesidades, en el caso de los pueblos indígenas en contacto existe el Convenio N.169 de la OIT y varias sentencias de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos pero al respecto de los pueblos en aislamiento no existe ninguna legislación, a pesar de su mayor necesidad de protección.

Actualmente existe la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas aprobada en la 107a. sesión plenaria el 13 de septiembre de 2007 y, un proyecto de la Organización de estados Americanos, pero no hacen mención expresa de los pueblos aislados pero si a los pueblos nómadas en los que jurídicamente podríamos poner a los aislados, sin embargo aún falta.

Photo of uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.
Foto de un tribu amazónico en aislamiento

Algo que debemos tener presente es que los pueblos indígenas tienen su propio derecho que lo han forjado a lo largo de su historia, costumbre, cultura y, este es norma social en sus grupos, el derecho consuetudinario también puede aplicarse en los casos de sus territorios.

La violencia de los derechos humanos es una constante en estos pueblos desde siempre, desde que se tiene noticias de ellos (las primeras han sido por parte de las empresas petroleras que buscaban entrar a su territorio, luego el Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, luego las petroleras estatales, ONGs, gobierno y así sigue la lista) algunas han llevado al exterminio de pueblos.

En el caso de los pueblos en aislamiento, las violaciones de derechos humanos que conocemos son aquellas que se han hecho públicas, como la matanza de 2003, el masacre en el marzo 5 y 29 de 2013, pero la selva guarda muchos hechos mas, encuentro con madereros, petroleros, ejército, narcotráfico, contaminación de agua, medio ambiente que por la situación y derecho de aislados no lo sabremos, pero no debería ser una excusa sino más bien una forma de buscar mejores derechos para protegerlos.

2.1. No Racismo y Discriminación

A lo largo de la historia los pueblos indígenas han sufrido la discriminación de sus colonizadores, tratándoles como seres inferiores, con menos derechos, ideas que se ha reproducido en Orellana respecto a los Waoranis, mas cuando se desarrolla una industria como la petrolera donde “a como de lugar” entra a territorios indígenas a través de artimañas hechas por sus “relacionadores” comunitarios que en la práctica son mas disociadores de las comunidades indígenas, o, a través de comprar dirigentes comunitarios, dividir comunidades.

Shaman Ecuador AmazonFrente al racismo se suma la discriminación y la pobreza en la que se desenvuelven, principalmente por la carencia de servicios básicos como agua potable, alcantarillado, servicios higiénicos, educación, salud, mas no por la tecnología que es muy accesible a estos grupos, no es raro verlos con un teléfono de última generación y sin agua limpia para beber.

La educación a través de las políticas del gobierno sigue siendo estandarizada y no respeta su cultura, la mayoría de escuelas siguen en condiciones precarias y con profesores en incertidumbre, a excepción de algunas pocas escuelas financiadas por la empresa Repsol en el bloque 16, pero el resto de comunidades tiene un bajo nivel educacional, que no toma en cuenta su cultura, lengua, métodos de enseñanza.

En el caso de los pueblos aislados la discriminación y racismo viene de todas partes, se acentúa más cuando ni siquiera se les toma en cuenta en los planes de explotación petrolera irrespetando su territorio y, a ratos llega a hechos jocosos como que no se pueden investigar las muertes de los miembros de estos pueblos porque no tienen cédula como lo dijo un fiscal en 2003, o, en otro caso reciente los fiscales niegan su existencia, simplemente los ignoran, los envían al olvido de su burocracia, donde reposan investigaciones de hace diez años donde no hay un solo responsable, donde a pesar de la información no existe un maderero, petrolero, militar condenado por violar el territorio protegido de Yasuní, o dotar de armas a los Waoranis para que maten a los Taromenane.

Atrás queda lo que dicen el art. 66 numeral 4 y, 57 numeral 2 de la Constitución sobre la igualdad formal, material y no discriminación, un derecho pendiente por cumplir, el estado debe pasar de ser un estado racista como se ha visto en la práctica a garantizar la igualdad que manifiesta su legislación.

2.2. Autodeterminación

Sobre el derecho a la Autodeterminación han existido varias ideas entre ellas que este derecho comprende la independencia total de un pueblo, poder formar un nuevo estado, uno propio. Desde el derecho de los pueblos indígenas se habla del derecho a controlar sus instituciones, territorios, recursos, justicia orden social, cultura sin interferencia ni dominación externa y su derecho a establecer su relación con la sociedad dominante y el estado sobre la base del consenso. Es decir sin una independencia total de un estado, pero el fondo al parecer es el reconocimiento y protección jurídica de los derechos a nivel internacional como a cualquier otra persona o grupo de personas, teniendo en cuento su vulnerabilidad.

En el caso de los pueblos aislados diferentes autores dicen que la máxima expresión del derecho a la autodeterminación es el respeto de su decisión de mantenerse en aislamiento, ya que ellos conocen de la existencia de otros pueblos o cowori (extraños) pero su voluntad es mantenerse alejados, no mezclarse ni vincularse.

El derecho a mantenerse aislados como lo dice Mikel Berraondo [quote]…es la máxima expresión del derecho a la Autodeterminación por que se convierte en la llave que garantiza el respeto a sus formas tradicionales de vida y de organización política y social. Mientras se respete su decisión de mantenerse aislados, los pueblos no contactados mantendrán sus sistemas tradicionales de organización…”

“y el respeto de su decisión podrá ser entendida como reconocimiento o legitimación de sus sistemas propios de gobierno y organización por parte de los actores externos y los gobiernos de los estados, en cuyos territorios se hallen los territorios de los pueblos no contactados.”[/quote]

Waorani eln contacto inicialCon los pueblos en contacto inicial como los Waorani el derecho a la Autodeterminación, de ejercer su propia organización se ha visto muy afectada por la industria petrolera, que ha vulnerado sus formas tradicionales de organización, ellos se han acoplado a las formas de organización tradicionales, aunque algo queda en algunos casos al tomar decisiones donde siguen consultando con los Pikenani (ancianos).

El estado ha sido muy negligente en la forma de cuidar a los pueblos en contacto inicial, dejándolos a su suerte, en otros casos a cometido etnocidio por omisión como sucedió con el pueblo Tetete, y como está sucediendo con los Taromenane.

2.3. Medio ambiente y Territorio

ecuador deforestation
Deforestacion en el Rio Napo
Territorio y medio ambiente son uno solo para los pueblos indígenas, correlacionados, donde alrededor del cual se desarrollan todas sus actividades. El derecho es entendido como colectivo y no individual.

Este derecho es considerado como un derecho solidario para los indígenas, que tiene que ver con las generaciones futuras, mantener el medio ambiente para las generaciones futuras.

Se ha dicho también que es un derecho-condición ya que este determina la vida de los pueblos que habitan determinado territorio-medio ambiente y una garantía para poder ejercitar el resto de derechos humanos.

Este derecho ha existido siempre en los derechos consuetudinarios de los pueblos y, su defensa ha tenido muchos ejemplos, actualmente a pesar de no existir mapas, ni trazados, ni hitos que digan cuál es el territorio Tagaeri-Taromenane, ni el territorio Waorani estos pueblos luchan por la defensa de sus tierras ancestrales, por mantener su aislamiento, conservar el territorio para sus generaciones futuras, como lo dejan claro en una notable conversación mantenida entre el anciano Waorani Ompure y los Taromenane el 26/3/2012.

El gobierno ecuatoriano ha empantanado una discusión muy sencilla sobre si los recursos naturales que se encuentran en los territorios indígenas y especialmente de aislados pueden ser aprovechados por todo el país, la respuesta nos remite a un caso reciente como el de Sarayacu donde se ingreso a territorio indígena para colocar explosivos sin respetar al pueblo ni tener su consentimiento.

La Corte Interamericana dijo que hubo violación del derecho al territorio en su sentencia final, pero hay que recalcar que los recursos que se encuentran en los territorios indígenas también pertenecen a esos pueblos.

[quote]El art. 57 de la Constitución garantiza en estos términos el derecho al territorio: “Los territorios de los pueblos en aislamiento voluntario son de posesión ancestral irreductible e intangible, y en ellos estará vedada todo tipo de actividad extractiva. El Estado adoptará medidas para garantizar sus vidas, hacer respetar su autodeterminación y voluntad de permanecer en aislamiento, y precautelar la observancia de sus derechos. La violación de estos derechos constituirá delito de etnocidio, que será tipificado por la ley.”[/quote]

El Convenio 169 de la OIT garantiza el derecho a la propiedad y control sin límites sobre las tierras y territorios por parte de los indígenas o pueblos autóctonos en el art. 13, de la misma manera el Art. 10, 25, 26, 27, 28 y otros de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas.

2.4. Cultura

La constitución de los estados uniformes donde todos hablen una sola lengua, se eduquen igual, tenga una forma de vida similar y conformista ha sido una de las victorias del capitalismo para acabar con cualquier otro tipo de cultura que se oponga a su sistema, la cultura homogénea favorece el desarrollo del estado capitalista, el libre mercado, ya no se debe pensar qué crear para cada quién sino que todos lo consumirán.

Los más afectados han sido los pueblos indígenas que a más de sobrevivir buscan salvar con ellos lo que queda de su cultura.

[pullquote align=”right”]Aquí también hay que recordar la violación a la propiedad intelectual, patrimonio genético de los pueblos, una reciente investigación revela que los Waoranis fueron víctimas de robo de su sangre por parte de gente allegada al Instituto Lingüístico de Verano y esta fue llevada a varios laboratorios del mundo para estudiar su ADN, esto se hizo sin ningún consentimiento de los Waoranis y, los resultados no lo saben, una violación clara al patrimonio genético.[/pullquote]

Con los pueblos no contactados como lo hemos venido diciendo, la defensa de su cultura está muy ligada a la defensa de su vida, su derecho de Autodeterminación.

El derecho de los pueblos a existir ha sido elevado a la categoría de IUS COGENS en el derecho internacional, con lo que todos los estados tienen la obligación de proteger la existencia de los pueblos no contactados y, ningún estado puede derogar su obligación.

Esta es exigible a todos los miembros de la comunidad internacional, deben prevenir y castigar el delito de Genocidio, que tan fuertemente amenaza la existencia de los pueblos no contactados.

Nuestra legislación califica también el etnocidio cuando de atente contra el territorio de un pueblo, su autodeterminación, pero la tipificación no existe y nunca se aplica a pesar que como dijimos antes ya hay pueblos que han desaparecido y hay intentos de desaparecer a los pueblos aislados Taromenane/Tagaeri, ante ese vacío nacionalmente deberíamos aplicaría el delito de Genocidio, incluso a algunos que descaradamente en la Asamblea Nacional votan por explotación petrolera en territorios de pueblos en aislamiento.

2.5. Consulta previa y Consentimiento previo, libre e informado

El art. 57 en el numeral 7 de la Constitución al hablar de los pueblos indígenas dice: [quote]“La consulta previa, libre e informada, dentro de un plazo razonable, sobre planes y programas de prospección, explotación y comercialización de recursos no renovables que se encuentren en sus tierras y que puedan afectarles ambiental o culturalmente; participar en los beneficios que esos proyectos reporten y recibir indemnizaciones por los perjuicios sociales, culturales y ambientales que les causen.

La consulta que deban realizar las autoridades competentes será obligatoria y oportuna. Si no se obtuviese el consentimiento de la comunidad consultada, se procederá conforme a la Constitución y la ley.”[/quote]

Sin embargo la Corte Interamerica de Derechos Humanos ha manifestado en varias sentencias que a las comunidades y pueblos indígenas se les debe garantizar el derecho al Consentimiento Previo, Libre e Informado, este difiere del derecho a la Consulta Previa en que es obligatorio el contar con el consentimiento de las comunidades, es un derecho que mejor corresponde a los pueblos indígenas, también este derecho está recogido en el Convenio 169 de la OIT y la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas pueblos indígenas.

El consentimiento previo, libre e informado surge principalmente ante el acoso de las empresas extractivas sobre los territorios indígenas y sus recursos.

Actualmente se ha convertido en un arma para defender los territorios de las explotaciones, a veces también para limitar al estado y sus afanes extractivos, Mikel Berraondo dice que [quote]“una de sus finalidades es regular y limitar la aplicación por parte de los Estados de las doctrinas del interés público o la necesidad social que se han convertido en el instrumento jurídico y político perfecto para subrogar los derechos de los pueblos indígenas y mantenerlos siempre en un segundo plano al primar siempre el ejercicio de los derechos de la mayoría.

El consentimiento debe ser prestado libremente, debe ser obtenido por los ejecutores de proyectos previamente al inicio de actividades, y debe ser otorgado por los pueblos afectados fundamentándose en el pleno entendimiento de la amplitud del alcance de todos los temas implicados por las actividades o decisiones en cuestión. De ahí la formulación como consentimiento libre, previo e informado”[/quote]

disaster ecuador chevron texaco En muchos poblados indígenas este “consentimiento” se ha conseguido a la fuerza, con engaños, regalos suntuosos y, mentiras. Este “consentimiento” no tendría validez alguna y seria una clara violación del derecho a ser consultados, además que el consentimiento debe ser dado por la mayoría de los pobladores y, no como sucede en muchos casos donde solo firma un documento el dirigente a cambio de un “favor”

¿Pero qué pasa con los pueblos en aislamiento? ¿Cómo se entiende el derecho al consentimiento previo libre e informado?

Mikel Berraondo experto en Derechos Humanos de los pueblos indígenas contesta así: [quote]“En el caso de los pueblos no contactados, a esta importancia fundamental hay que sumarle la doble función, de limitación y protección, que presenta la aplicación de este principio. Limitación, en cuanto que la exigibilidad de la aplicación de este principio impide y limita totalmente las posibilidades de actuar en los territorios de los pueblos no contactados, ya que sin su consentimiento no se puede realizar ninguna actuación en sus territorios, y la búsqueda del consentimiento por la fuerza o la coacción supone incurrir en graves violaciones de sus derechos humanos, entre las que se incluyen la del delito de genocidio.

Y protección, precisamente porque el hecho de que su consentimiento sea un requisito imprescindible para realizar cualquier acción en sus territorios significa que cualquier intromisión en sus territorios o culturas significa una violación de sus derechos, entre las cuales, como acabamos de mencionar, se incluye el delito de genocidio entre las violaciones que genera el actuar sin su consentimiento.”[/quote]

Como lo dice Mikel Berraondo, en el caso de los pueblos indígenas debe haber Consentimiento previo, libre e informado, y en el caso de los pueblos en aislamiento no puede haber ningún tipo de explotación de sus territorios ni recursos, aquí debemos aclarar que la protección de no explotar el territorio es por el derecho a la autodeterminación de los pueblos en aislamiento y no porque existe o no una zona declarada intangible, es decir primero debemos ver el derecho a la vida de las personas, el IUS COGENS.

En este caso en Ecuador y en el Yasuní podemos decir que tenemos dos argumentos para que no exista actividad extractiva, la primera es en base a un decreto ejecutivo que declara la Zona Intangible, y en realidad el más importante y fundamental es el derecho a la autodeterminación de los pueblos indígenas Waorani, y más cuando este debía ser previo a la declaratoria de interés nacional, y no después de haber construido las carreteras, plataformas e incluso de anunciar el primer barril de petróleo para la segunda semana de octubre de 2013.

El otro argumento es el derecho a la Autodeterminación de los pueblos aislados y la protección del principio de Consentimiento previo, libre e informado: la Limitación y Protección.

El gobierno para explotar el ITT, bloques 31 y 43 se fundamenta en el Art. 407 de la Constitución:[quote]“prohíbe la actividad extractiva de recursos no renovables en las áreas protegidas y en zonas declaradas como intangibles, incluida la explotación forestal y, excepcionalmente dichos recursos se podrán explotar a petición fundamentada de la Presidencia de la República y previa declaratoria de interés nacional por parte de la Asamblea Nacional, que, de estimarlo conveniente podrá convocar a Consulta Popular.”[/quote]

Pero su fundamentación es carente de respeto a las normas internacionales y tratados ratificados por Ecuador, incluso contradice su propia Constitución que dice que el deber del Estado es garantizar los Derechos Humanos consagrados en la Constitución y en los instrumentos internacionales, de conformidad a lo que disponen los artículos 424 segundo inciso y 426 de la Constitución de la República del Ecuador.

oil ecuador tribesPara finalizar debemos alertar que también la Décimo primera ronda petrolera entra a licitar bloques petroleros que se encuentran en territorios ancestral indígenas, en algunos casos los bloques cubren todo el territorio, el 16 por ciento del territorio Waorani se ve afectado por los nuevos bloques petroleros y, en el caso de las nacionalidades Achuar, Andoas, Shiwiar y Zapara los bloques ocupan todo su territorio.

El gobierno ha dicho que realizó una consulta previa, pero no es el procedimiento que debía hacer, por lo tanto esta ronda viola nuevamente los derechos de los pueblos indígenas.

Todo esto sigue sucediendo en la selva de papel y decretos, mientras aún varios ecologistas y ong´s siguen creyendo en la selva infinita y realizan performances del deber ser ecológico, cada vez se extrañan más los días de Dayuma, su resistencia a las políticas extractivas; ni el ejército, ni la policía, ni el gobierno han podido borrar de la mente de los pobladores indígenas y mestizos que ha resistido por años el extractivismo, la contaminación petrolera en el campo de “batalla” la frase que los luchadores contra Texaco dijeron: [quote]“Vamos a luchar contra esto hasta que el infierno se congele. Y entonces lucharemos contra él en el hielo”[/quote]

Vilma Vargas Uncensored: the Caricaturist drawing circles around Ecuador´s attacks on freedom of expression

in Interviews/news by
vilma vargas
vilma-vargas2
Vilma Vargas in front of her mural in Coca
What happens to a democracy when its journalists and artists are too afraid to criticise those in power and express themselves freely?

This is one of the questions we ask Vilma Vargas – a rising talent in the Ecuadorian art scene who was twice selected for the “World Press Cartoon” in Portugal and awarded first prize at RESET 11.11.11 in Mexico for best caricaturist.

Under the current Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa the coerced closures of numerous media stations that do not comply with the new Law of Communication as well as lawsuits seeking millions in damages against journalists, some who have been forced out of work and threatened with imprisonment, physically assaulted and had their family homes raided at gunpoint by government officials have all contributed to what Vargas calls “one of the gravest moments” the free press in her country has ever faced.

This however hasn´t intimidated Vargas into censoring her outspoken style and while other Ecuadorian journalists have become fearful of rocking the boat her caricatures stand out like a Cotopaxi-sized-pimple on President Correa´s chin.

A Woman in a Profession Dominated by Men

Chekhov: When the newspaper El Comercio asked six artists to draw a comic with the theme “If Superheroes lived in Ecuador” you where the only woman selected. Does that mean there are 5 male artists for every female or do you think artists of your gender are often overlooked?

Vilma Vargas: Ecuador is characterized as having several renowned artists, as well as many caricaturists. Unfortunately in the realm of graphic humour there are some women who remain in the shadows and very few who have won a place in the press. But in graphic humour like it is in other areas: women are still relegated to second place.

            Also history has always been written by men. In the history of art, there exists several women artists, sculptors, philosophers, between other important women that have also been looked over.

vilma-vargas-superhero
Chekhov: What advice can you give to younge female artists searching for their artistic voice and fighting to be noticed in the world?

Vilma Vargas: I believe that in my country, women and people in general are more worried about how to solve their basic needs than perform some type of art. However people who do choose to have an artistic vocation should know that art is a way of life where you need to embrace risk and to express yourself is the best form of freedom.

Chekhov: Then for art to become a lifestyle you need to focus on it 100% which is one of the reasons you left your career in architecture?

Vilma Vargas: I believe it was more of a necessity. Passions sometimes impose and its necessary to renounce certain areas of your life to focus on creative work. But I haven’t abandoned architecture completely, its just that “art” wont let me abandon it at all.

On Government Attacks Against Freedom of Expression

Chekhov: Do you receive enough from your caricatures published in the newspaper Hoy to support this lifestyle or do you need to find other sources of income?

Vilma Vargas: Like you know, the press is passing through one of its gravest ever moments because of government harassment regarding freedom of expression and that has affected various media outlets, including the newspaper where I work. I live off my drawings, illustrations, and ceramic murals.

"Press Freedom"
“Press Freedom”
Chekhov: One of the major themes to your work is Freedom of Expression, can you tell us the meaning behind drawings of yours like the one of Press Freedom being attacked by bats?

Vilma Vargas: That drawing is based on an engraving by Goya called: “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”. – What I wanted it to represent is the press being attacked by various shadows.

            The worst part is reality is not like the caricature, if you have a different opinion you will not be disturbed by innocent bats but with the entire weight of the law which almost always responds with the interests of the Government.

Chekhov: What happens to a democracy when journalists fear investigating and criticizing those who are in power?

Vilma Vargas: First there wouldn’t be a democracy, because if not, you wouldn’t be afraid to have an opinion, to criticize others or yourself. The latent risk with these measures and pressures and media laws that infringe on our freedoms is that journalists and news media will start self-censoring, which impairs peoples ability to get information or adequate research on various topics.

The “Legalization” of Attacks Against Journalism

Ecuador´s new "Law of Communication"
Ecuador´s new “Law of Communication”
Chekhov: What is the new Law of Communication in Ecuador like and in your caricature who are the people in suits and ties coming out of the Trojan horse?

Vilma Vargas: Even before the implementation of the “Law of Communications” there was some pressure and harassment through various means. Now the only thing its done is “legalize” these practices. In the drawing I represent a law disguised as a gift which is lawful but inside swarm several beings that already have incorporated prohibitions in mind.

Chekhov: Can you tell us about the correlation between what is happening on the national level with respect to the journalists who fear criticizing president Correa and how that has empowered politicians on the municipal level to threaten, harass, and force out of work journalists who are investing municipal corruption like Ignacio Ramos Mancheno?

Vilma Vargas: The problem is that the government only believes in what they say and they put together an entire strategy on the Saturday TV Broadcast Chains to convince us of “their truth”. Thus, it is normal that there are lots of clashes with voices outside of the ruling party.

The former mayor of Riobamba, Juan Salazar, in jail for corruption.
The former mayor of Riobamba, Juan Salazar, in jail under investigation for corruption.
            I don’t know very well the story behind Ignacio’s case, but its clear that like many other people working in the press they have closed the doors on him for not agreeing with the powers that be. Graphic humour is monitored as well, we can already see cases where caricaturists have been mentioned in the Saturday TV Broadcast Chains.

Chekhov: Can you tell us about my favourite caricature, The Zebra Cow, and how social networks helped spread messages like this caricatures and other images from citizen journalists in their fight to unseat and imprison the former mayor Juan Salazar on corruption?

Vilma Vargas: Its been a long time since I touched the themes of my city owing to bad experiences I had with the directors of a certain newspaper that censured my drawings, however given the importance of the issue, I was again expressing my opinion about the city and from that came the drawing of the mayor from which I understand did not offer any grace to his followers.

Drilling for oil in the most biodiverse place on the planet
Drilling for oil in the most biodiverse place on the planet
Chekhov: Recently a lot of your caricatures are focused on President Correas decision to drill inside the Yasuni National Park for oil. Can you tell us your feelings about the Yasuni and if you had the opportunity to visit it when you were painting the mural for the bus terminal at Coca?

Vilma Vargas: In effect, I had the opportunity to paint the Mural of el Coca and see the breathtaking nature we have. The city of Coca is a population that has been generated because of the extraction of petroleum.

            Concerning the refusal to conserve the Yasuni is not up to the government to decide, its a decision of the country, its something that concerns us all. With this news the world will realise that we have a government that doesn’t give priority to conserving the natural wonders of Ecuador.

Vilma Vargas art
“Executive – Legislative – Judicial”
Chekhov: After the journalist Emilio Palacio wrote that President Correa was a dictator he fled to the United States where he received political asylum to escape three years in jail and 4 million dollars in damages. If you continue to draw caricatures of President Correa like the one with three heads that represent the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government have you thought of the possibility that one day you to might have to leave the country if you wish to continue expressing yourself freely?

Vilma Vargas: To report and make art or say what one thinks always brings risks. To be free and feel differently too.

            While my lucidity has permitted me to continue drawing it may sound counter-intuitive, but the worse the country gets, the more work there is for us caricaturists.

Chekhov: You can see more of Vilmas art on her website: http://www.vilma-vargas.com/
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Luis Xavier Solis on the 55,140 refugees in Ecuador less famous than Julian Assange

in Human Rights/Interviews/Rights of Refugees by

colombia_armyToday on Chekhov’s Kalashnikov we are going to talk with Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca who works for the Comittee of Human Rights of Orellana in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This organization which works closely with UNHCR is in charge of protecting and defending some of the worlds most vulnerable and forgotten people – refugees that have fled Colombians civil war in search for asylum and a better life in Ecuador.

Chekhov: Can you explain your work, the organization where you work, and what you specialize in?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: I work in two areas through a project with UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) 1.- Consulting and advocacy for people in need of international protection, in this case especially for Colombian refugees who are the majority of people who need international protection by the Colombian internal conflict. 2. – Counselling and Advocacy in cases where human rights have been violated, in recent cases we have have had were against human rights violations by the police.

[pullquote align=”right”]FOR REFUGEES:
if you come to Ecuador the first think you must do approach a human rights organizationor ACNUR in Ecuador, inform yourself about the request for asylum before you reach 15 days in the country otherwise the Ecuadorian government will not consider your request.

Refugees should contact the following organizations on the northern Ecuadorian border:
– Servivio Jesuita para refugiados
– ACNUR
– Fundación Tarabita
– Asylum Access Ecuador
– Federación de mujeres de Sucumbios
– Oxfam
– Comité de Derechos Humanos de Orellana,
– Defensoría del Pueblo de Sucumbios y Orellana
– Cualquier otra sede, estas organizaciones trabajamos en refugio y podemos brindar asesoría.
[/pullquote]

Chekhov: What are the statistics, that is the number of Colombian refugees who are living in Ecuador and especially in the provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana?

Chekhov: What are the statistics, that is the number of Colombian refugees that are living in Ecuador especially in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: well in Ecuador there are around 56,000 refugees of which 90% are of Colombian nationality! The other nationalities are Palestinians, Haitians, Spanish, Cubans, etc.

Chekhov: and how does the Ecuadorian government treat the Colombian refugees in comparison with that of other nations?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: well you´ve got to remember the major part of Colombian refugees were recognised and registered in Ecuador in 2009-2010 after the Bombing of Angostura. Before 2012 Ecuadorian legislation was less rigorous until the issuance of Decree 1182 of May 30, 2012 which restricted access to asylum.

We´ve heard from different areas in the government its position that refugees are an expense to the country principally Colombians which are the majority however this does not take into account the contribution they have made to the Ecuadorian economy with their labour and microenterprises. The government with the issuance of this decree severely restricted access to the right to shelter, so much that of the 100% of requests for shelter only 4% are accepted when before the decree it was about 60%.

Chekhov: and they are rejected legitimate refugees now?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: the majority yes, people who have elements of refugees, as well with such small percentages almost all are left out.

Chekhov: and what happens when they reject one´s asylum, they have to return to Colombia or do they stay in Ecuador?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: that´s the problem, in lots of cases when there are refugee elements, the need for international protection, they cannot return.

[quote style=”1″]Suppose you are a refugee and your country does not protect you or does not want to protect you, therefore if he comes to seek refuge in another country there is a need for protection, either a regular or irregular armed group, that pursues them, threatens them, makes them fear for their lives or for their political expressions, social, racial, etc.

In lots of cases we have seen that the refugees stay in Ecuador without official documents which puts them in a vulnerable situation, they can be exploited laborally or sexually.[/quote]This is because the current government decree (1182) left off numbers to the right to be able to recognise victims of violence that the law had previously incorporated under the declaration of Cartegena, but it is no longer beholden in Ecuadorian law. That was part of the law and therefore should be applied.

Life For refugees in Ecuador less famous than Julian Assange

assange asilo
Julian Assange in Ecuador´s London Embassy

Chekhov: everybody has heard of the Ecuador´s most famous refugee, the Australian Julian Assange, can you tell us about some of the refugees that have fled violence in Colombia but have been forgotten by the Ecuadorian state and the rest of the world?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: …what you say is precisely the contradiction that has befallen the Ecuadorian state, already on a global level and in a principled way it gave asylum to Assange and a pass to Edward Snowden, however the life of Colombian refugees is not that easy.

The fact of fleeing from a conflict of over 50 years is very complicated, to get to a different albeit close country, finding a place to live, where to work, where to raise children… These issues are really sobering to think about.

[pullquote align=”right”] “Up to June 2013 the Ecuadorian government has recognized 55,141 refugees in the country. Since 2000, when there were 390 refugees, 168 525 people have applied for refugee status in Ecuador. About 23% of them are children and adolescents.”
ACNUR in Ecuador

Testimonials from Colombian Refugees
[/pullquote]

A lot of the refugees in Ecuador that have fled the Colombian conflict were only able to bring identification documents so there access to rights is very precarious. Generally the same authorities that are making systems where [refugees] are unable to register because of the number of refugee visas, is the one for social security and education.

Afterwards they also become vulnerable because when they start to perform jobs they are poorly paid, being characterized by cheap hard labour, in other cases they are not even paid for their labour…

This is the case for those who do find work, for the rest they have to look at finding more informal ways to earn a living, ways where they are exploited for their situation of always being on the move, which is to say the solutions aren’t comprehensive. There is still much to do in terms of providing refuge, while we agree that it is not just an Ecuadorian problem but an international one, but I think the government should deal with more attention to this sector.

Ejercito Ecuatoriano
Ejercito Ecuatoriano
[quote style=”1″]The problems are greatest in the zones by the border where the both the Ecuadorian and Colombian civilian populations live in a situation of uncertainty.

They are already violations of rights by the Ecuadorian military, the Colombian military, and armed groups, this is to say they are a population living in the line of fire.[/quote]

Women and Children Refugees from Colombia

refugiadas colombianas
The Federation of Women in Sucumbíos is a program that gives comprehensive care to women refugees from Colombia, where programa de atención integral a mujeres refugiadas de Colombia, which “promotes the end of impunity for cases of domestic violence against women.”
Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: Also you have to remember that 70% of Colombian refugees are women and children.

Chekhov: and what happened to the fathers and husbands?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: there are lots of motives, they were assasinated, they have been disappeared, or the women are on there own, or the husbands come afterwards…

For the part of ACNUR and other social organizations like us at the Committee of Human Rights of Orellana, we have tried to help, provide counselling so there rights are not violated, however the number that we meet is still small compared to the refugee population in total.

Chekhov: can you tell us about some of these recent cases where the human rights of refugees have been violated by police?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: There exists many occassions where because of the movement of people that need asylum do not have the correct documentation to travel throughout the country, whether thats because they havent sought asylum with the Ecuadorian state or because the authorities do not know how to identify a refugee and the rights they have.

There exists and continues to exist various detentions by police of people who need asylum, however this is to ignore the constitutional rights of refugees who are in parts 9, 40, 41 and others of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of movement, the right to asylum and refuge, universal citizenship.

The police have no power in their grading of if a person is a refugee or not so all you can do is apply the documentation and if the person does not have it says they are a refugee or is in need of international protection what needs to happen is to refer the case to the Department of Redwhat to do is to refer the case to the Directorate of Refugees with their facility to analyse and consider the case.

What we know is that there are still abuses principally when they detain refugees working in prostitution, starting first with that yes they are recognised as refugees and can work in whatever lawful activity such as prostitution, secondly you cannot be detained and have their documents withdrawn because the police do not have the power to do that.

The best way to end these abuses is to denounce them so that they do not repeat and to sanction those responsible for denying these human rights.

There also exists illegal detentions of refugees without respect due process, only because they are presumed to have commited a crime because of the stigma that much of the Ecuadorian authorities have of refugees from Colombia.

The World Refugee Crisis

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: The topic of the global refugee crisis as you know is a phenomenon that isn´t going to finish any time soon, rather the situation has worsened, principally in the Middle East with Syria, North Africa, and how things are going there will be added to by more climate refugees and by the adverse conditions in which the world is developing….

For this I believe the solution legal, social, but in the background is POLICY.

Chekhov: Right now in Australia there is an electoral campaign where the two main political parties are trying to demonstrate to a xenophobic and sometimes racist electorate who can create the toughest policies against refugees to send a message and stop them entering the country, what do you say to them?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: …what is happening on a global level is to believe that economic crises and lack of employment is due to refugees, that economic migrants are those who take away jobs, however this is only an appearance to hide the truth, which is that the crises, lack of employment is due to the accumulation of capital in a few hands, in the minority, less than 1% of the population.. these political speeches stick in times of global economic crises and sometimes ordinary people usually believe them.

It is therefore important to be more critical about where these speeches are coming from, speeches that are supported by the mainstream media that are repeated until they permeate in the minds of the population.

[quote style=”1″]You have to put yourself in teh shoes of the migrants and refugees and understand there reality, you cannot restrict the right for refuge, its a human right, and governments around the world need to respect that right[/quote]

Refugees under Juan Manuel Santos and Alvaro Uribe

santos y uribe Chekhov: I want to ask you of the armed groups: paramilitary, military, FARC Guerillas, who are causing the most violations against human rights?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: generally I believe the Colombian military and the paramilitary. But it seems like the guerrilla in Colombia have forgotten there founding principles and there exists many rural people that are persecuted and killed.

What happens is that it is a field of war, a civilian has to pay the armed groups without reason in many cases, if the armed groups see a frightened farmer, one that was forced to give water to the paramilitaries or the military, they are branded as an informant o vice versa.

Chekhov: what is the level of refugees under the former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe in comparison with the current President Juan Manuel Santos?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: Ive already mentioned that the majority of Colombian refugees were granted asylum between 2009-2010, during the government of Uribe after the bombing of Angostura, where the Colombian military bombed Ecuador.

But in reality there is not a big difference in the amount of people that are request asylum in Ecuador between the government of Uribe or Santos. The violence still continues to be common, armed groups of the state or non-state continue to displace people in Colombia, the number of displaced Colombians is the biggest in the world with almost 2.4 million people and the numbers have not fallen.
[mc4wp_form]

Luis Solis del ACNUR en Ecuador sobre los refugiados Colombianos buscando asilo en Ecuador

in Entrevistas by

colombia_armyHoy en Chekhov’s Kalashnikov vamos a hablar con Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca cuyo trabajo es proteger y defender a algunas de personas más vulnerables y olvidadas del mundo – refugiados que han huido de la guerra civil Colombiana en busca de asilo en la Amazonía Ecuatoriana.

Chekhov: Puedes explicarnos tu trabajo, el organizacion en donde trabajas, y en que especializas?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: Trabajo en dos áreas a través del proyecto un proyecto con ACNUR (Alto Comisionado de NN.UU para refugiados) 1.- Asesoría y defensa de persona con necesidad de protección internacional, en este caso especialmente para refugiados Colombianos que son la mayoría de personas que necesitan protección internacional por el conflicto interno Colombiano y 2.- En asesoría y defensa de casos donde se hayan violado los derechos humanos, los últimos casos que hemos tenido ha sido contra violaciones de derechos humanos por parte de la policía.

[pullquote align=”right”]PARA LOS REFUGIADOS:
si vienen a Ecuador lo primero que deben hacer es acercarse a alguna organización de Derechos Humanos o ACNUR en Ecuador,

informarse sobre el refugio y luego solicitarlo antes de que se cumplan los 15 días de llegado al país, caso contrario el gobierno Ecuatoriano no considerará su solicitud.

En la frontera norte de Ecuador pueden contactar:
– Servivio Jesuita para refugiados
– ACNUR
– Fundación Tarabita
– Asylum Access Ecuador
– Federación de mujeres de Sucumbios
– Oxfam
– Comité de Derechos Humanos de Orellana,
– Defensoría del Pueblo de Sucumbios y Orellana
– Cualquier otra sede, estas organizaciones trabajamos en refugio y podemos brindar asesoría.
[/pullquote] Chekhov: Que son los estadísticos, pues el número de Colombianos refugiados que está viviendo en Ecuador y especialmente en las provincias de Sucumbíos y Orellana?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: bueno en Ecuador hay alrededor de 56.000 refugiados de los cuales el 90% son de nacionalidad Colombiana! Los otros nacionalidades son de diferentes nacionalidades! existen palestinos, haitianos, españoles, cubanos etc

Chekhov: y como el gobierno Ecuatoriano se trata los refugiados colombianos en comparison de refugiados de otras naciones

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: bueno hay que recordar que la mayor parte de los refugiados colombianos fue reconocida en Ecuador con el registro ampliado en 2009-2010, luego del bombardeo a Angostura. Hasta el 2012 la legislación ecuatoriana era menos rigurosa como la es desde la expedición del decreto 1182 de 30 de mayo de 2012 donde restringue mucho el acceso al refugio.

Ha escuchado en diferentes espacios la posición del gobierno de que los refugiados son un gasto para el país principalmente los Colombianos que son mayoría sin embargo no se ha tenido en cuenta el aporte que han realizado a la economía ecuatoriana con su fuerza de trabajo y microempresas en general el gobierno con la expedición de este decreto restringio mucho el acceso al derecho al refugio, tanto que del 100% de solicitudes de refugio apenas el 4% son aceptadas cuando antes del decreto se aceptaban cerca del 60%

Chekhov: y son refugiados legítimos que están rechazando ahora?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: en su mayoría si, las personas tienen elementos de refugio además con tan bajos porcentajes casi todos quedan fuera.

Chekhov: y que pasa si rechazan el asilo de uno, tienen que volver a Colombia o siguen en ecuador?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: ese es el problema, en muchos casos cuando hay elementos de refugio, necesidad de protección internacional, no pueden volver.

[quote style=”1″]Se supone que una persona refugiada es aquella a quien su país de origen no la protege o no quiere que la proteja, por lo tanto si se acerca a solicitar refugio en otro país es por la necesidad de protección, ya sea que un grupo armado regular o irregular, la persigue, la amenaza, teme por su vida por sus expresiones políticas, sociales, raciales etc.

En muchos casos hemos visto que la gente permanece en Ecuador de manera indocumentada lo que le coloca en una situación de vulneración, puede ser explotada laboralmente, sexualmente.[/quote]Esto debido a que el actual decreto del gobierno (1182) dejo fuera de sus numerales el derecho de poder reconocer a personas víctimas de violencia generalizada que lo tenía la ley anterior y fue una declaración que Ecuador la incorporó, esta se dió en Cartagena, se le conoce como la declaración de Cartagena, pero ya no esta contemplad en la legislación Ecuatoriana. Que era parte de la ley y por tanto se debía aplicar

La vida para refugiados menos famosa que Julian Assange

assange asilo
Julian Assange in Ecuador´s London Embassy
Chekhov: todo el mundo ha escuchado del refugiado más conocido de Ecuador, el Australiano Julian Assange, puedes contarnos de unos refugiados que han huido de violencia en Colombia pero son olvidados del estado Ecuatoriano y el resto del mundo?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: …lo que dices es justamente una contradicción en la que cae el estado ecuatoriano, ya que a nivel mundial y de forma fundamentada dió asilo a Assange y un pase para Snowden, sin embargo la vida de los refugiados colombianos no esta tan fácil.

El hecho de salir huyendo de un conflicto de más de 50 años es muy complicado, llegar a un país distinto aunque cercano, tener que buscar donde vivir, en que trabajar, donde educar a los hijos…Son cuestiones que realmente dan que pensar…

[pullquote align=”right”] “Hasta junio de 2013, el Estado ecuatoriano ha reconocido a 55.141 personas refugiadas en el país. Desde el año 2000, en que había 390 refugiados, 168.525 personas han solicitado la condición de refugiado en el Ecuador. Cerca del 23% de ellos son niños, niñas y adolescentes.” El ACNUR en Ecuador

Testimonios de Refugiados Colombianos en Ecuador
[/pullquote]

Mucha gente que es refugiada en Ecuador y que han huido del conflicto colombiano tan solo han podido traer sus documentos de identidad y su acceso a derechos aún es muy precario, generalmente son las mismas autoridades que crean sistemas donde no se registra por ejemplo el número de visa de refugio, eso sucede mucho en la seguridad social, o en la educación.

Luego también vienen a ser vulnerables ya que empiezan a realizar trabajos donde son mal remunerados, siendo caracterizados como mano de obra barata, en otras ocasiones no les cancelan sus derechos laborales..

Esto en el caso de quienes pueden trabajar, el resto tendrá que ver como se gana la vida en algún trabajo informal, más bien explotados por su situación de movilidad humana que es decir las soluciones no han podido ser integrales, existe mucho aún por hacer en materia de refugio, si bien estamos de acuerdo que no es solo un problema de Ecuador sino internacional, pero creo que el gobierno debe tratar con más atención a este sector.

Ejercito Ecuatoriano
Ejercito Ecuatoriano
[quote style=”1″]Los problemas más fuertes que se dan son en las zonas de frontera donde la población tanto Ecuatoriana como Colombiana vive aún situación de incertidumbre

Ya que hay vulneración de derechos por parte del ejército Ecuatoriano, ejército Colombiano, grupos armados, es decir una población en una línea de fuego.[/quote]

Mujeres y Niños Refugiados Colombianos

refugiadas colombianas
La Federación de Mujeres de Sucumbíos tiene programa de atención integral a mujeres refugiadas de Colombia, donde se promovemos el fin de la impunidad para los casos de violencia de género contra las mujeres.
Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: Además hay que recordar que casi el 70% de refugiados son mujeres y niños

Chekhov: y que paso con los padres y los maridos?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: han muchos motivos, fueron asesinados, están desaparecidos, o son mujeres solas, o vendrán después…

Por parte de ACNUR y otras organizaciones socias como nosotros el Comité de Derechos Humanos de Orellana, hemos tratado de ayudar, brindar asesoría para que los derechos no sean vulnerados, sin embargo el número que atendemos sigue siendo poco en comparación con la población refugiada.

La Crisis Mundial de Refugio

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: El tema de la crisis mundial de Refugio como bien sabes no es un fenómeno que ve acabarse en poco tiempo, más bien la situación a empeorado, principalmente en Medio Oriente, Siria, Norte de África y como van las cosas incluso habrá más refugiados climáticos por las condiciones adversas en las que se desarrolla el mundo….

Por eso creo que la solución no es tan solo jurídica, social, sino en el fondo es POLITICA.

Chekhov: En Australia ahora hay una campaña electoral en donde los dos partidos políticos están tratando de demostrar a un electorado xenófobo y a veces racista, “quien puede crear medidas políticas más duras contra los refugiados para mandar un mensaje?” que dices a estes politicos?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: …lo que pasa que a nivel mundial se trata de hacer creer que las crisis económicas, la falta de empleo se debe a que refugiados, migrantes económicos son los que quitan empleo, sin embargo esto es solo una apariencia para ocultar la verdad, que es que las crisis, falta de empleo es por la acumulación del capital en pocas manos, en la minoría, menos del 1% de la población…estos discurso tiene pegue en épocas de crisis mundiales, económicas, y la población común algunas veces suele creerles..

Por ello es importante hacer una crítica más profunda sobre de donde realmente viene estos discursos. Discursos apoyados por grandes medios que lo repiten hasta que calan en la mente de la población.

[quote style=”1″]Hay que ponerse en el lugar de los migrantes, refugiados y entender su realidad, no se puede restringir el derecho al refugio, ya que es un derecho humano, y los gobiernos en cualquier parte del mundo deben respetarlo…[/quote]

Los Refugiados de Santos y Uribe

santos y uribe Chekhov: quiero preguntarte de los grupos armados: paracos, militares, FARC, cuáles están causando más violaciones contra los derechos humanos?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: generalmente creo que el ejército y los paramilitares. Pero la guerrilla en Colombia parece que ya olvido sus orígenes, y existen muchos campesinos perseguidos, otros muertos.

Lo que sucede es que es un campo de guerra, una pagan por control donde los grupos armados no ven razones en muchos casos, si ven a un campesino atemorizado, amenazado dando agua a los paramilitares o ejército son tildados por la guerrilla de informantes o viceversa.

Chekhov: y el nivel de refugiados abajo del ex-presidente Alvaro Uribe en comparison con el nivel abajo de Juan Manuel Santos?

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca: te mencioné que la mayoría de refugiados colombianos en Ecuador se dieron en 2009-2010, gobierno de Uribe luego del bombardeo de Agostura, donde el ejército colombiano bombardeo en Ecuador.

En realidad no hay mayor diferencia entre el número de personas que solicita refugio en Ecuador en comparación de la época del gobierno de Uribe o Santos. La violencia sigue siendo común, los grupos armados estatales o no estatales siguen desplazando gente en Colombia, el número de desplazados Colombianos es el mayor del mundo con cerca de 2,4 millones de personas y las cifras no han descendido

Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca del ACNUR (Alto Comisionado de NN.UU para refugiados) en Ecuador
está a cargo de la “defensa de personas con necesidad de protección internacional, en este caso especialmente para refugiados Colombianos que son la mayoría de personas que necesitan protección internacional por el conflicto interno Colombiano”

Consejos para refugiados Colombianos buscando asilo en Ecuador:

“Para los refugiados principalmente les podría decir que: si vienen a Ecuador lo primero que deben hacer es acercarse a alguna organización de Derechos Humanos o ACNUR en Ecuador, informarse sobre el refugio y luego solicitarlo antes de que se cumplan los 15 días de llegado al país, caso contrario el gobierno ecuatoriano no considerará su solicitud.

En la frontera norte de Ecuador pueden contactar con: El servivio Jesuita para refugiados, ACNUR, Fundación Tarabita, Asylum Access Ecuador, Federación de mujeres de Sucumbios, Oxfam, Comité de Derechos Humanos de Orellana, Defensoría del Pueblo de Sucumbios y Orellana o cualquier otra sede, estas organizaciones trabajamos en refugio y podemos brindar asesoría.

Si vienen a Ecuador lo primero que deben hacer es acercarse a alguna organización de Derechos Humanos o ACNUR en Ecuador, informarse sobre el refugio y luego solicitarlo antes de que se cumplan los 15 días de llegado al país, caso contrario el gobierno Ecuatoriano no considerará su solicitud.”

En la frontera norte de Ecuador pueden contactar:

Servicio Jesuita en Ecuador:
http://www.sjr.org.ec/
Contacta el Servicio Jesuita en Ecuador

Dirección de Asylum Acces Ecuador en Sucumbios:
DIR.: LAGO AGRIO, CALLE JORGE AÑASCO ENTRE FCO. ORELLANA Y 12 DE FEBRERO, EDIFICIO DIPLACON 334, 2 PISO.
TELEFONO: 06-283-1353/0959983211

ACNUR Sucumbios:
calles guayaquil y loja
Federación de Mujeres de Sucumbíos.
Vía al Aguarico (diagonal al Colegio Pacífico Cembranos).
Nueva Loja. Sucumbíos. Ecuador.
Telefono: 06- 2366343
http://www.acnur.org/t3/donde-trabaja/america/ecuador/

Federación de Mujeres de Sucumbios
http://lafede.org/
federaciondemujeresdesucumbios@yahoo.es
Contact Federacion de Mujeres

“Nuestro trabajo es confidencial según el Código de Nairobi que es un documento internacional para asesores legales ne refugio y personas que trabajan la proteccion internacional.” Luis Xavier Solis Tenesaca

The Guerrilla Movement Waging War Against Deforestation

in Food & Water Security/Interviews by
map for cloud forest conservation
Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity hotspot
 
In the dense cloud forests that cover the western ridge of the Ecuadorian Andes an active guerrilla movement called the Pachamama Army roams.

Unlike other guerrilla armies further north inside this biodiversity hotspot biologists call the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena, this movement believes in non-violent struggle over violent subversion.

Their revolution is one of consciousness via connection with nature and they are armed to the teeth with seeds, saplings, and shovels instead of guns and shells.

 
“The Pachamama Army are the protectors of nature,” says the movement´s leader Geovani Yanchaliquin Basantez, an indigenous Andino Yachac (Andean Shaman) pictured below, “We hold life in its natural state with utmost respect and guard over the plant and animal species in danger of extinction.”

Geovani of the Pachamama ArmyIts a daunting task: Ecuador´s coastal cloud forests and humid montane forests are considered one of the most biodiverse hotspots on the planet, containing approximately 15-17-% of the world’s plant species and nearly 20% of its bird diversity.

Equally biodiverse are the Panamanian and Colombian sectors of the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena where armed conflict between paramilitary groups and the Colombian military against FARC and ELN guerrilla forces have prevented deforestation and protected the natural biodiversity.

The blowback with peace in Ecuador however has been devastating.

The violent visual representation below shows how Ecuador´s coastal forests have lost land at a rate faster than Palestine between 1938 and 1988 due to slash-and-burn farming, illegal logging, monocultures, and population growth.

map of cloud forest deforestation
UNDER SIEGE: The coastal forests of Ecuador

Today approximately 2% of Ecuador´s coastal forests are left in sparse disconnected patches scattering the country´s coast. These are the most threatened tropical forests on planet earth.

Forward Operating Base “el Kade”

cloud forest waterfall
el Kade is the Pachamama Army´s most remote outpost and it´s under siege. A plague of African palm oil, cacao monocultures and banana plantations swallow the surrounding countryside like a cancerous green shaded desertification.

Rivers flowing from the snow-capped volcanoes east that were once the supply lines of life for the mountainside are now clogged with cow shit and silt. The green corridors that connected this small patch of tropical cloud forest and provided safe passage for nomadic animals have been cemented over by the unceasing march of civilization.

[quote]The coastal forest of Ecuador are the country´s lungs and source of water. The coast is sitting on the cliff of extinction and if we do not reforest now, we will be in danger of losing everything that inhabits this zone. – Geovani Yanchaliquin [/quote]
cloud forest leaf
Giant leaves that make you feel like you´re in Jurassic Park.

 
el Kade is one of three terrains entrusted to the Pachamama Army for protection. On the terrain there are 38 hectares of primary forest and 5 hectares of secondary, the two wooden cabins are off the grid and built with recycled wood, and all food consumed is grown organically on site.

But the remoteness of el Kade´s virgin forest is both a blessing and a curse: in times past its isolation saved it while illegal loggings lust for cheap timber chopped down all the low hanging fruit.

Now that Ecuador´s environmental laws have been tightened and are more strictly policed that same isolation entices the timber barons here because the law is harder to enforce.

[pullquote align=”right”]Check out the powerful Global Forest Disturbance Alert System that uses NASA satellite technology to track down deforestation.

“I’m hoping the tool can help journalists and activists pinpoint areas where deforestation is occurring,” says Rhett Butler, founder and editor-in-chief of Mongabay.[/pullquote]”To stop deforestation it is necessary to identify and denounce the threat when illegal logging is discovered.” says Geovanni who uses before and after photos taken by members of his small army on routine reconnaissance missions to measure deforestation. With enough proof they alert Ecuador´s Ministry of Environment to intervene as a regulator.

After preventing deforestation and planting saplings over baron pastures the Pachamama Army´s other priorities include educating local farmers on the benefits of organic farming over pesticide coated monocultures and creating a seed bank, “a seed bank is urgent because most ancestral plants are disappearing fast due to the deforestation and invasion of hybrid plants and grasses.”

“Ecotourism as a word means to arrive at a harmonious state between man and nature, and that for us is a way of life outside of marketing and capitalism.” says Geovanni who has also developed Reforestation Treks in conjunction with the Ecuador Tree People, “All of the economic income from ecotourism will be reinvested in works that favour nature.”

4WD-stuck-in-mudIt´s recommended that volunteers that want to work on these conservation projects to arrange to arrive at el Kade by mountain bike or horseback because by car it´s downright dangerous to get there.

Our 4WD Landrover almost slipped off the cliff lining the treacherous mudracked road and rope was tied around the tyres in a desperate attempt to give the car more traction. But it was worth the risk for views like this:
clouds over coastal andes ecuador

The Modern Day Shaman

For Geovanni the fight to save Ecuador´s coastal forests is also a fight to preserve his rich Kichwa heritage from being homogenised into the masses like a giant human monoculture.

The fast disappearing role of the Yachac or Shaman in the communal lives of the Kichwa´s and Andino´s that inhabit the Ecuadorian Sierra is especially troubling.

deforestation ecuador
Deforestation on the mountainside above “el Kade”

“The Shaman in the modern world plays a very important part in helping people return to their roots, to eat healthy and take natural medicine that doesn´t affect other parts of the body like chemical medicines.”

Geovanni learnt the secrets of Shamanic medicine from his father Victor Yanchaliquin, an indigenous medicine doctor and author of several books pertaining to medicinal plants.

This however is becoming increasingly rare in modern Ecuador where Spanish speaking Kichwa children cannot communicate in the Kichwa language to their grandparents.

In the 21st century the sacred ancestral knowledge that was once passed from generation to generation on the use and cultivation of medicinal plants is being lost as fast as the plants themselves.
clouded-forests
“The wisdom of our ancestors tells us that we are already in difficult times,” says Geovanni, “but to conserve nature and our ancestral roots is our mission.”

When the mist grips el Kade it´s easy to get disoriented – when you´ve snorted water that´s been boiled with tobacco leaves and consumed half a litre of mescaline San Pedro cactus that disorientation expands time, place, and self.

On a full moon the clouds glow blue while the surrounding nature throbs with a kaleidoscope of calls from birds, mammals, amphibians, lizards, and insects. Hearing this call of life in its most pristine state is when you realise the importance of this beautiful living breathing organism all around us that sustains us and that are we are willing to sacrifice to make a quick buck.

[quote]”Pachamama in the Andean world is our mother, the spirit of nature, we are her children, and we have to fight to save her.” – Geovani Yanchaliquin[/quote][mc4wp_form]

The Shitty State of Human Sanitation (Part 1: The Problem)

in Food & Water Security/Interviews by

For Chekhovs Kalashnikovs very first interview on Change Makers we will be talking with environmental activist Chris Canaday from California about the broken and dangerous state of human and water sanitation systems and the solution to this problem that is damaging our environment and health.

chris-canaday-sanitation-toiletsI think that, before we talk about this revolutionary sanitation system, it is important to touch on why the current system is broken. Can you elaborate on how the contemporary western toilet came into being and the devastating effect that it has had on the environment and our health?

People in Europe used to live in total filth in their cities, throwing their excrement out the window. Porcelain flush toilets had been worked on for some time, but only in 1861, after her husband had died of fecally transmitted typhoid, Queen Victoria ordered flush toilets to be refined and installed in much of Britain.

It is also reported that she was so obese that she had trouble squatting and someone decided that it was not dignified for the queen to squat. They gave her a new porcelain throne and then, via mass psychology, all the Western World has wanted the same thing as the queen of England, even if it is not good for them or their environment.

The modern flush toilet has contributed greatly to the cleanliness of cities, but has not really solved the problem, just moved it farther away. Water always gets recycled and there are always more people living downstream. Developed countries spend millions and probably billions of dollars trying to clean up their wastewater, but never really succeed.

[quote]The modern flush toilet is largely based on the concept of “out of sight, out of mind”. It is also a prime example of selfishness: cleaning up the environment close to the user, while contaminating everyone’s general environment.[/quote]

It is interesting to note that at the same time that Water Closets were being developed, Earth Closets were, too. There was even one reportedly used in Buckingham Palace for a while. Over time, Water Closets won out as the standard for Modern Western Society, likely due to their ease of use and maintenance, as long as piped water comes to the house and sewage goes away.

Another key way in which the current, water-based sanitation system is “broken” is that it is based on the illogical, unsustainable and linear concept that natural resources should be used once and then thrown away. Flush toilets not only throw away huge amounts of water, but also all the nutrients found in the excrement.

[pullquote]With a simple push of a lever, we effectively deplete our agricultural soils and contribute to the eutrophication of rivers, lakes and oceans and in them the formation of hypoxic dead zones.[/pullquote]

If these nutrients were instead given back properly to the soil (and if the population were stable), we could forget about the non-renewable, unsustainable chemical fertilizers that are currently the basis of Modern Western Society’s food production. Those who learn to recycle these nutrients in an orderly way now will have every advantage in the future when these chemicals run out, and when there are possibly 9 billion people on Planet Earth, all wanting to eat.

Water is so essential and vital that we simply cannot live without it. Nonetheless, modern homes in developed countries dump between 25 and 40% of their water down the toilet, and the number engineers use in Ecuador is closer to 75%, given the high incidence of unmaintained toilets through which water flows constantly. We need to promote a culture of respect for water, as a source of life, which should never be treated as a garbage dump.

If these are not enough reasons to consider the current water-based toilet to be broken, obsolete and illogical, please consider the following unreliable, unhygienic and not-so-easy aspects of flush toilets:

  • They often need to be scrubbed after each use, if they are going to be presentable.
  • They frequently need to be flushed more than once for everything to go away.
  • They occasionally get plugged and need to be cleared with a plunger, with sewage splashing or overflowing out.
  • They make so much noise that everyone in the building can hear when they get flushed.
  • The great turbulence of flushing creates a plume of microscopic, fecally contaminated water droplets that then land on everything in the bathroom, including the toothbrushes.
[spoiler title=”Expand for scenarios when flush toilets are ecologically sustainable”]In the interest of full disclosure, flush toilets can be somewhat ecologically and socially sustainable in places where water is abundant, human settlement is dispersed, and the soil is absorbent, such that septic tanks (for settling out the solids) and leach lines (= drain fields; for allowing the contaminated water to absorb into the soil) can work properly, at more than 16 meters from wells or streams, and if the septic tank sludge is treated in reedbeds.

Constructed wetlands are also important tools for treating wastewater, but they require a fair amount of land. On top of this, who knows how far all the different modern synthetic chemicals can travel in the water and the soil? So, in summary, it is most prudent to not mix our excrement in water from the beginning, especially if we have large numbers of people grouped together in a city.[/spoiler]

So the reason Colon Cancer is skyrocketing in the Western World today is because we aren’t completely clearing our bowels, thanks to a custom-made invention for a morbidly obese queen?

Yes, and not just colon cancer, but also constipation and hemorrhoids. The natural position human beings have used when defecating, over millions of years, since before we were people, has always been squatting. In this position, the outlet is straight and the body can eliminate its waste more easily, efficiently and completely. When sitting, the outlet is not straight, certain muscles contradict each other, one needs to push more, and not all of the feces come out, so there is more constipation, hemorrhoids, and the colon never gets a rest from being in contact with festering feces, causing a greater incidence of colon cancer).

Squatting has the added advantage that it is more hygienic, especially with respect to women, since the user’s private parts do not touch anything. (Most women apparently never actually sit on a public toilet, but actually sort of hover above, which is much more uncomfortable than squatting all the way down.) Also, the squatting position is more accessible and intuitive for little children, since the floor is the same height for everyone, while a toilet bowl made for adults is much too big, uncomfortable and unsafe for them. Furthermore, in Urine-diverting Dry Toilets (UDDTs), the squatting position allows for a more certain separation of the urine and the feces, plus it is easier and cheaper to build.

In Ecuador, where does all the sanitation waste go? How much water is used and what effect does this have on the environment?
water-pollution-cartoon
Almost all of Ecuadorian cities’ wastewater goes straight into rivers or bays, except for Cuenca, Shushufindi, and a few other cases where wastewater treatment is done.

The amount of water is huge and the excrement’s nutrients fertilize algae that end up dying and thus consuming the available oxygen in the water, creating the eutrophication and hypoxic zones mentioned above. But the biggest threat is that of pathogens in the water, which are responsible for the majority of disease in the world.

Many people have daily contact with rivers, for bathing, washing clothes or drinking, even only minutes after others have defecated in it, so it is obvious how disease can proliferate. Need more proof? Check out this: [spoiler title=”Human Sanitation in Bombay” open=”1″ style=”1″][/spoiler]

I can just imagine the collective shit and piss from the hundreds of thousands of people living in Ecuadorian cities like Coca, Tena, and Puyo flowing into these Amazonian Rivers. What I find scary however is that this problem is not confined to Ecuador or even the South American Amazon but is worldwide.

What happens to communities that live on river banks, lakes, and areas prone to flooding with respect to worms, bacteria, and water-bourne diseases, like cholera that can be prevented with this system?

Yes, it is a discomforting thought, but the volume of shit is actually much greater if we remember that the millions of people who live in certain Andean cities in Ecuador, including Latacunga, Ambato, Riobamba, Cuenca, and Loja, also dump their waste into Amazonian rivers. Unfortunately, as you say, this situation is all too common in the world, where 90% of wastewater goes into the environment without proper treatment.

Even in countries like the United States, where things are presumably all under control, there are thousands of “sanitary accidents” every year, in which untreated sewage goes straight into the environment.

There are also numerous pharmaceuticals that cannot be removed from the water via conventional methods, such as antibiotics, antidepressives, and artificial hormones from birth control pills.

In addition, the current system of trying to kill the germs in the water with chemicals in one city, and the next downstream, and the next downstream, is a recipe for these germs to get resistant to these chemicals, especially if at the same time people are drinking and bathing in other peoples antibiotics. This has generated multiresistant strains of microbes that we cannot kill with chemicals to heal the people who get sick with them , nor can we be sure to disinfect a swimming pool even by adding chlorine.

[quote]In terms of health, the worst thing about flooding is that everyone is in everyone else’s shit.[/quote]

This is an even bigger problem on the coast of Ecuador, where huge areas get flooded, with millions of people being affected, and it is getting worse with Global Climate Disruption. Urine-diverting Dry Toilets (UDDTs), on the other hand, can simply be built above the highest level of the flood waters.Ascaris

One of the scariest results of all this fecal contamination, aside from diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, poliomyelitis, hepatitis, and other microbial diseases, is the high incidence of roundworms of the genus Ascaris, which infect about one-seventh of the world human population . There is a reason that the word for disgust in Spanish, “asco”, is so similar:

  • These can be almost as thick as a pencil and up to 40 cm long.
  • When babies are deparasitized, their diapers sometimes look like plates of noodles.
  • Adult female roundworms produce 200,000 eggs per day and these can be viable in shaded, moist soil for years.
  • The eggs do not just get swallowed and develop into adults in the intestines. Instead, they have intermediate stages that navigate in the host’s bloodstream, throughout the body. Eventually, they come out into the alveoli of the lungs, get coughed up and swallowed, and only then become adults.
  • Roundworm infection is a big factor in many children doing poorly in school, since the worms consume so much of their food that little is left for the kids’ brains.

In Part 2 of this article Chris Canaday will tell us about the solution to human waste disposal and how it will solve much of the planets sustainability problems.
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