Triple crisis of pipelines, pesticides and pandemic is an existential threat to Ecuador’s indigenous peoples
Days after Ecuador declared a state of emergency for COVID-19, the Secoya people’s principal fishing river, the Shushufindi, was poisoned by a massive pesticide runoff from nearby African palm plantations, decimating local fish stocks.
Three weeks later, a devastating rupture of the country’s biggest oil pipelines spilled crude oil into the Napo river, a tributary of the Amazon, leaving dozens of indigenous villages and tens of thousands of peoples without access to clean water.
Despite dozens of people showing symptoms of COVID-19, Secoya people spent nearly a month in an infuriating battle to get the government’s attention. In response, Secoya families took matters into their own hands, turning to medicinal plants and going deeper into the forest to both escape disease and find food and clean water