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Ecuador: In the absence of protection from the State, Amazónian women risk their lives to defend the Rainforest
The lack of capacity and political will of the Ecuadorian authorities to guarantee protection and adequately and effectively investigate attacks and threats against Amazonian Women defenders of the environment which puts their lives at risk, and those of other people who protect the Amazon against political and economic interests linked to large-scale extractive projects in indigenous territories, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.
“They will not stop us” : The Ecuadorian government fails justice and protection for Amazonian women defenders of land, territory and environment, which exposes the failures of the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office in response to a series of attacks and death threats registered in 2018 against Patricia Gualinga, Nema Grefa, Salomé Aranda and Margoth Escobar. The four women are members of the Mujeres Amazónicas collective, made up of dozens of indigenous women from Ecuador who defend the environment in the Amazon and the rights of indigenous peoples.
The work of people who defend the environment, such as the Amazonian Women and other organizations of the indigenous peoples, is urgent and necessary in Ecuador and in the whole world, before the increasingly evident impacts of the global environmental crisis.
“Despite the promises made by the government of President Moreno, the lack of political will to seriously investigate the attacks against human rights defenders and to give them adequate protection sends a clear message to society: that these crimes are tolerated in Ecuador. This is unacceptable, “said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director for Amnesty International.
The lines of investigation and the protection measures that the Ecuadorian authorities have offered to the victims seem to ignore possible motives of the attacks linked to their challenge to large-scale economic interests and to traditional gender roles, through their role as indigenous leaders. and human rights defenders.
“This attack is retaliation for my struggle to defend life and our territories against the threat of oil exploitation,” said Salome Aranda, after several strangers threatened and attacked her and her family with stones while they were at home in May 2018.
The Amazonian Women point out that the authorities in charge of investigating do not collect or analyze critical evidence in time, which could even help identify those responsible for the attacks against them. Faced with these failures, the defenders end up in practice assuming the burden of the investigation.
”We are united and we will continue in our fight for the defense of Mother Earth.”-
Patricia Gualinga, Amazonian Woman defender.
The Amazonian Women also criticize that the protection measures that they have offered are inadequate and insufficient in the face of the particular needs and the exceptional risks they face every day.
Regardless of the possible causes of these failures, their consequences on the lives of human rights and environmental defenders in Ecuador are clear and concrete. In a country where attacks against them are not punished and authorities do not assume their responsibility to guarantee their safety, many people face the permanent dilemma of risking their lives and that of their families to defend human rights and nature. .
“President Lenin Moreno and the new Attorney General, Diana Salazar, have in their hands the opportunity to put an end to this grave situation and guarantee justice and protection for the Amazonian Women and any person who defends human rights in Ecuador. For this, they must implement a national protection policy and a protocol to investigate crimes against them, “said Erika Guevara Rosas.
Despite impunity and lack of protection, Patricia Gualinga says they will not surrender: “We are united and we will continue in our fight for the defense of Mother Earth.”
by Carlita Shaw