This is a letter from some of the people that Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s neo-capitalist, authoritarian president, calls “infantile” and “romantic”, probably because they didn’t go to the fancy white man’s schools that the fine president attended to learn that most anti-human of trades called economics, which is some sort of brain washing thing where you are taught that the human being is an entirely self-interested, rational agent who just wants to go shopping and doesn’t care for her community.
The letter is from the Waorani women who are getting systematically killed by the oil industry, which is enjoying strong protection from the Ecuadorian state, led by Correa:
“Manuela Omari Ima, who is the new chairperson of Waorani women’s organization, Amwae, has first hand experience in the devastating consequences of oil exploration. “The indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon have been decimated in just a few decades,” she says. “The Waorani people alone numbered around 16,000 at the end of the 1960s, when the oil exploration began. Today, there are no more than about a thousand of us left… I don’t know how much longer we can survive under the current conditions. Perhaps the industry will out-live us – judging by how it has wiped out other tribal peoples in the Amazon. Maybe the earth will have nothing left to give when the companies leave.”
Altogether, an estimated 90% of the indigenous peoples in the Amazon region of Ecuador have been wiped out over the past few decades, according to the FDA. Contamination from the oil industry, forced relocations, militarized violence and civilization-borne diseases are the critical factors behind the process of extinction.”
Letter of WAORANI women to the Government of Ecuador
Lago Agrio, 6th of November 2008
We, as women, made this document in paper and in your language. We cannot speak to you because we live far away and because you don’t understand our language.
Look at this paper Mr. President, it contains our words, the words of the Waorani women.
We want to live in a large territory, our culture is based on a large territory, it is ours, not because the State decided so, but because God gave it to us, therefore we talk of our land, our children, our language. As our ancestors told us: without land, we cannot live.
We do not want that they continue to enter and continue to contaminate our land. The companies must leave our territory in peace, here lived our grandfathers and we want everything to be clean again like before. Before, oil companies entered our land without us being aware, they provoked many problems and diseases, this cannot continue.
If oil exploitation is not stopped, the companies will continue to destroy our territory. The companies must leave us in peace, we want clean rivers and forests.
We want the government to tell these companies of foreign countries to stay away. We don ‘t want oil companies to enter in our territory, never again. We want to live in peace and in good health. Oil companies shouldn’t come here, negotiations with them should be stopped.
You, as the government, should recognize our territory and you shouldn’t allow oil companies to enter in our territory.
We don’t want oil, nor wood exploitation in the whole of the Waorani territory. We aren’t a “Bloc” or oil concession, we are a territory where we live and where our grandfathers have lived.
Where will our children cultivate their crops when they reach our age? From what will they live?
For a long time, the Tagaeris and Taromenanes have had to live hidden from wood loggers, who have entered to steal the cedar. These people have asked our husbands to go into the forest with them to kill our own people, to kill our own race. The loggers want the Tagaeris and Taromenanes dead, so they can enter and steal the wood, because the Tagaeris defend their territories with their spears, like did our grandfathers. We want them to live in peace, nobody should bother them, nobody should want to kill them, no lumber companies should be allowed to enter our house.
We know that there are 3 oil blocs in Yasuní over which you are taking decisions: bloc 16, 31 and 43 (ITT). We want that the oil will not be exploited in these blocs. We want that in bloc 16, the company be obliged to clean what it has destroyed, we want them to leave the land as it was before.
Stop the contamination and the wood exploitation.
Many Waoranis negotiate with companies the things which the government should provide, the government should understand this. Many times, leaders meet with companies to negotiate while the community is not aware of that. The government should help the Waoranis to take care of their territory, they shouldn’t help the companies to destroy it.
We, Waorani women, will continue to insist through our organization because we also claim for our children.
Signed by women from the following communities: Tarangaro, Miwaguno, Kacataro, Teweno, Batavoro, Kiguaro, Dayuno, Ñoneno, Nemampare, Bameno, Kewairuno, Gareno, Tiguino, Wantaro.
Learn more about the Waorani people here: