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21 May 2019

Jack Godwin, VT (UK)

Ecuador: Court suspends planned auctioning of Amazon tribe lands to oil companies

"Amazonian tribe win lawsuit to block Big Oil's bid to destroy half a million acres of rainforest", 18 May 2019

In a landmark ruling, an indigenous tribe from the Ecuadorian Amazon have protected their land from numerous oil companies seeking to use it for oil drilling. The Waorani people of Pastaza protected half a million acres of their territory in the rainforest, bringing their case before a panel of judges at the Pastaza Provincial Court - and won.

The court has now indefinitely suspended the planned auctioning of their lands to oil companies, a process which started in 2012 after a consultation process by the Ecuadorian government voted in the corporations' favour...

The case was already noteworthy due to the rarity of indigenous groups having their bid for court protection accepted, yet also saw the court halt the sale of 16 oil blocks that cover 7 million acres of indigenous land.

The president of the Waorani Pastaza Organization, Nemonte Nenquimo, who also acted as plaintiff in the lawsuit, said of the decision:

"The government tried to sell our lands to the oil companies without our permission. Our rainforest is our life. We decide what happens in our lands. We will never sell our rainforest to the oil companies. Today, the courts recognized that the Waorani people, and all indigenous peoples have rights over our territories that must be respected. The government’s interests in oil is not more valuable than our rights, our forests, our lives."...