The Sarayaku community needs juridical support
The Kichwa community of Sarayaku is located in the province of Pastaza in Ecuador’s Amazon region, along the Bobonaza river. The approximately 2,000 inhabitants dwelling in the community, which comprises five villages, have lived in this area for generations.
The people of Sarayaku were resolute and decided against oil exploitation in their area. Although Sarayaku’s representatives were threatened with murder, the government enforced oil exploitation with military force, and oil corporation CGC contaminated individuals with corruption, the people knew what the “development” and “future” promised by oil exploitation would mean for their lives. In many parts of the Ecuadorian rainforest, the consequences are clearly visible.
For Sarayaku, opposition to oil exploitation in their area began in 1989 when they prevented drilling in their area by the former Ecuadorian and now BP-owned corporation, Arco. In 1992, the community of Sarayaku was assigned territory covering around 130,000 hectares. According to the law, the resources remain the property of the state though, hence the government divided the area into blocks for oil exploitation in 1996 and 2003. Argentinean corporation CGC was assigned the concession for the area designated block 23; the Italian corporation Agip the concession for block 10. Protests by the indigenous people initially led to drilling being halted. The parties have been fighting over land and mining rights ever since – a lawsuit against CGC was submitted to the Human Rights Council by Sarayaku. In 1998, the constitutional court formally recognised that oil exploitation violated the rights of the indigenous peoples, and in 2004, the Interamerican Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica initiated measures in favour of the region’s indigenous population. Five years later at the start of September 2009, the final explosives for seismic surveying were removed.
A historic event resulting from tenacious resistance.
However, the oil corporations continue to try to divide the members of the community and intrude into the area: in the north-east of Sarayaku (block 10), a former inhabitant who lived abroad for many years tried to establish a new community with support from the oil corporations. Sarayaku fears that the initiator could enter into negotiations with the oil corporation: the “Kutukachi” community, where his followers settled lies remarkably close to a (still) closed oil platform. On his website, he has publicly accused 40 community members. Preliminary summons were then issued: on 9 October, 2009, the first five defendants had to appear in court.
Climate Alliance supports the community of Sarayaku, providing legal advice.
The community members must defend themselves in a lawsuit and need financial support totalling around 2,000 EUR for this. If you would like to help support the community, please forward your donation to Sarayaku via Climate Alliance.
Account number: 8038409001
Sort code: 43060967
GLS Gemeinschaftsbank eG
Crowdfunding: Indigenous football team from the community of Sarayaku, Ecuador seeks funding
June 2015: The footballers of the Ecuadorian “Club Deportivo Sarayaku” have been raising awareness for the sustainable management of their forests through football. Now in the region’s professional championship league, the team is currently seeking financing for both the team and especially its message of preserving the Kawsak Sacha, the concept of “Living forest”, via crowdfunding.
Money raised via the crowdfunding initiative will help Sarayaku’s indigenous team continue to play the game it loves while communicating the importance of the Amazon rainforest for both their livelihoods and the life or our planet.
Interested parties can contribute to the football players from Sarayaku via crowdfunding until 30 November 2015. Further information is available online.