“The oil is underground, and that’s where the spirits are. If we extract the petroleum, a hole is left and the spirits are weakened. If we kill these spirits, we are killing ourselves.”
– Manari Ushigua, Sápara leader
O óleo está no subsolo onde também ficam os espiritos. Ao extrair o petróleo fica um buraco e os espíritos ficam enfraquecidos. Ao matarmos estes espíritos estamos nos mantando a nós mesmos. – Manari Ushigua, lider de Sápara
Several hours down the fast-moving Bobonaza River, churning brown with sediment and swollen from recent rains, our dugout canoe careened around the bend, forest on each side, and came upon a bridge spanning the river. Kids were strewn across it, jumping into the water, in an afternoon post-school ritual. We had arrived in Sarayaku, the pillar of resistance to resource extraction in Ecuador’s Amazon, thorn in the side of the oil-hungry administration of President Rafael Correa, and home of Kichwa indigenous people named for the husks of corn that would float down the rivers throughout their ancestral homeland.
ccompanied by our Executive Director Leila Salazar-López and others, we journeyed into Sarayaku and the remote mountainous rainforest territory of the Sápara to hear firsthand from leaders and community members about the Ecuadorian government’s aggressive push to open up their lands to new oil drilling. With freshly-inked oil contracts with Chinese state-run Andes Petroleum for two blocks covering a majority of Sápara territory and an important swath of Sarayaku lands and plans to auction off several more oil concessions in late 2016, the fate of the people and forests of Ecuador’s southern Amazon hang in the balance.