Ecuador: Mencay Nenquihui Niwa and Christian Cray
On behalf of Mencay Nenquihui, president of the Waorani women association in the Amazon of Ecuador, we send greetings to everyone from the Learn2Change-network.Mencay Nenquihui Niwa, Christian Cray
The corona-related situation for the Waorani nation is especially difficult because the Waorani fear the virus very much. Only about 50 years ago, when the evangelical missionaries “civilized” the Waorani people, invading their territory, putting them in villages …
… when they had lived in small family clans for millennia deep in the Amazon forest, a huge number died.
They caught polio (poliomyelitis), and without any defenses against this new disease, many of the “pikenani” (male) and “pikenas” (female), the old, wise bearer of ancient knowledge, passed away in agony. A tragic loss of beloved and respected leaders – still a trauma for most Waorani.
This tragedy, together with other issues, paved the way for the petro and timber industries to divide Waorani families, bribe many of them, and, ultimately, deprive them of their traditional forest land. Luckily, they succeeded in vindicating a big portion of their territory.
But that does not mean it is free of illegal invasions: Taking advantage of the corona-emergency, the president declared national priority to the extractive industries. He exempted them from the sanitary emergency measures that have stopped almost any economic activities in Ecuador for four weeks. So mining companies are illegally entering indigenous territories, placing their machinery, opening up new roads, etc. They do so knowing that the indigenous guardians of these territories won’t fight back because they fear to be infected. Also, in Waorani territory, illegal intrusion of tree loggers has been reported. Oil extraction is also going on without any halt.
The indigenous peoples have declared their own state of emergency.
Mencay wants us all to know that the Waorani people are standing strong against these industries that have so much devastated their traditional lands. Moreover, a biodiverse and healthy environment without pollution and agro-toxics in nature, water and in our food helps us to be strong against illnesses. Let’s not give up upon building sustainable and resilient communities!