Waorani Nation Wins COVID-19 Legal Victory Against Ecuadorian Government to Prevent Ethnocide in the Amazon
Sophie Pinchetti, Amazon Frontlines
A little over one year after the Waorani People’s historic legal victory, which protected half-a-million acres of rainforest from oil drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon, the indigenous nation has yet again triumphed in a new lawsuit aimed at securing protections for their communities, including uncontacted peoples, from an imminent risk of physical and cultural extinction owed to the acceleration of COVID-19 in their territory.
Yesterday, Judge Delicia de los Ángeles Garcés Abad from the Provincial Court of Pichincha ruled in favor of the Waorani people’s rights to health, life, and self-determination, and granted partial precautionary measures requiring the Ecuadorian government to take urgent actions to contain the virus in Waorani territory. The court ruling requires the Ministry of Health to coordinate with the Waorani leadership to conduct COVID-19 testing with the assistance of medical staff with intercultural experience in eleven affected and vulnerable communities across three provinces (Pastaza, Napo, Orellana) in Waorani territory; to provide adequate and sufficient medical supplies to local community health centres; and, to provide adequate and culturally relevant information to the Waorani throughout the pandemic. The resolution also requires provincial governors to coordinate with the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) to provide food and essential supplies to Waorani communities.