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14 Jul 2020


Ecuador: Indigenous Waorani win case, forcing Ecuadorian government to protect community against COVID-19

“Court forces Ecuador government to protect Indigenous Waorani during COVID-19” – 26 June 2020

…As COVID-19 sweeps across communities in the Amazon rainforest, the Indigenous Waorani in Ecuador are celebrating a bittersweet victory after a provincial court ruled in their favor in a recent lawsuit against the government. The decision on June 18 forces several government ministries to take urgent action to contain COVID-19 in Waorani territory, and protect the uncontacted Indigenous nations of Tagaeri and Taromenane, whose territory borders Waorani land. The court decision comes as COVID-19 cases have been increasing across Ecuador’s Amazon this month. Recent numbers collected by Ecuador’s Amazon Indigenous federation CONFENAIE show 649 cases of COVID-19 and 24 deaths confirmed in the Amazon, affecting seven of the 11 nationalities that live in the rainforest, as of June 23. The vast majority of cases are within the Kichwa and Waorani territories. Indigenous communities in the middle of the rainforest are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, as many have no access to hospitals or sufficient medication, putting their elderly populations in particular at risk. Nemonte Nenquimo, an Indigenous Waorani leader and one of the main plaintiffs behind the lawsuit, said the government has consistently ignored pleas over the past few months to help with testing and monitoring the virus in their territories...The judge also left some of the Waorani’s demands unanswered, including that for an immediate freeze on all extractive activities in their territory. Espinosa described these activities as “vectors of contagion,” saying that some of the first signs of COVID-19 among the Waorani happened in communities located near oil, and illegal mining and logging operations, which never stopped during quarantine...