In Ecuador, like many Latin American countries, due to the global inequity of access to vaccines against COVID-19, only 10% of the population has so far received both doses of the vaccine. Indigenous peoples, with minimal access to clinical care, are particularly vulnerable populations that know very well they cannot lower their guard to the virus. A recent study published by the World Health Organization thanks to a targeted coronavirus testing study done in 2020 by the Universidad of las Americas in Ecuador, in collaboration with the Organización Waorani de Pastaza, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and Amazon Frontlines, found COVID-19 outbreaks in 12 out of 14 communities in the Amazon region. Ancestral medicine thus became essential in rural indigenous communities to suppress the virus. Indira Vargas, a 30-year-old Kichwa woman who was vice president of the Kichwa community of Union Base in Pastaza, Ecuador, during the height of the pandemic, had the initiative to document the ancestral medicine that women have been using to combat COVID-19. As heir to the ancestral knowledge acquired in her community, and thanks to her academic background, she just published a “Manual of ancestral use of medicinal plants for the mitigation of COVID-19 in Amazonian Kichwa communities,” which she hopes will be of use to other indigenous communities. “In the beginning, we did not know what this disease was about, and we were really scared with all the information that came from abroad, everything was like in pandemic movies,” Indira said in an interview with Awasqa. She said it was a bit overwhelming to have to deal with all the cumulative responsibilities in isolated Amazon communities during the emergency. As vice president, she was in charge of managing food aid and began seeing people falling sick everywhere; she quickly realized this wasn’t normal. “In the community, as a security measure, we closed the roads to limit people’s movements. But the virus was in people. We did not have the greatest shelter, and people went to the city to buy supplies […] Our elders told us about the historical diseases that came through colonization, the conquest itself: yellow fever, measles, smallpox. They already knew about these diseases, and this was a new one that was coming to the communities. They said we had to be prepared. “ As we’ve previously documented at Awasqa, the inaction of the government led people to promote local initiatives, and creativity supported by ancestral knowledge quickly began to bear fruit. Indira emphasized that the leadership of women was key to containing the virus. “Plant management came from women, support came from women, self-organization came from women.” The women went to the fields, to the jungle, to extract plants like cat’s claw and matico leaves, all necessary elements in the preparation of medicines. “The mothers went to the jungle and created a preparation with tree barks, leaves, wild garlic, guayusa, chrikaspi. This medicine was very effective; it did help us. It helped to lower the fever, decrease joint pain because each plant has its own active ingredients,” said Indira, who also ended up in bed and isolated with COVID-19 but achieved a speedy recovery thanks to the ancestral medicine of her elders. The idea of making the manual came from her academic training. She has a bachelor’s degree in tourism from the Universidad Estatal Amazónica of Puyo, with a specialization in biomedicine, which helped her expand her scientific knowledge but also learn about herbalism from other regions. “I met other women from the Andean region there, and I was asking them about plants,” she said. “I have always been close to our ancestors who are knowledgeable about medicine.” The manual, a work of several months that included the rigorous translation of plants from Kichwa to Spanish, allowed her to document the knowledge that women were putting into practice during the crisis, built from the compilation of some medical authors, her own academic knowledge, and the collaboration of the grandmothers who prepared these recipes. Although the herbal medicine included in the manual is based mostly on Amazonian vegetation, Indira hopes that the Shuar, Achuar, and other nationalities can take this manual, adapt it to their local environment, improve upon it, and translate it into their own languages. “Having this knowledge in the community is one more part of our lives, which goes hand in hand with the issue of spirituality, which is respect for nature, animals, big trees,” said Indira. “For me, it is very important to have a healthy spiritual side, in connection with the rainforest, which has always been there for our community.” We are grateful for the generosity of Indira Vargas, of her Kichwa people, and we disseminate the “Manual of ancestral use of medicinal plants,” so that other indigenous peoples have the opportunity to explore its therapeutic uses.
FROM THE EDITORS: The Bolsonaro government has shown an open violation of indigenous peoples’ rights either by omission or by undermining laws and institutions set to promote these rights. After all, Bolsonaro reached the presidency with ample support from agroindustry, and his anti-indigenous speeches were already apparent during his campaign. On June 22 and 23, indigenous peoples again suffered from Bolsonaro’s policy of aggression while peacefully protesting before Congress against PL 490 and other proposed legislation that seek to nullify their territorial rights. Based on the impressive communicational work of the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB), and in an effort to uplift their voices, we share below a chronicle of their latest news articles. Rise for the Earth About 850 representatives of 45 indigenous peoples and nationalities mobilized from various regions to Brasilia and settled the Levante pela Terra (Rise for the Earth) encampment, declaring themselves in a permanent state of mobilization to stop anti-indigenous bills in Congress. In their “Carta dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil: Levante pela Tierra” they write: The struggle for life called us, and we arrived in Brasilia to set up our Rise the Earth camp to defend our territorial rights. We reoccupied the lawns of the federal capital after two years without face-to-face mobilizations, especially the Terra Livre Camp (the largest assembly of indigenous peoples in Brazil, which, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was held virtually in 2020 and 2021). Our leaders, who are already fully immunized with the vaccine against the new coronavirus, are meeting at this time to echo our maracas and reaffirm that, in the midst of the greatest health and humanitarian emergency in recent years, the lives of indigenous people matter. Terra Livre Camp has been for years an act of resistance, gathering, and celebration as well as an opportunity to raise consciousness in Brazil about the needs and rights of indigenous peoples. Proposed legislation Bolsonaro’s government intends to consolidate its extractivist and agro-predatory model through a series of legislative proposals that place the very existence of the indigenous peoples of Brazil at risk. Among these, PL 490 is a bill that would eliminate millenary demarcations of indigenous territories. On its June 9 statement, the APIB states: In practice, this project represents a new genocide against indigenous peoples. The PL is unconstitutional and could end the demarcation of Indigenous Lands in Brazil, allowing the opening of territories for predatory exploration. In addition to PL 490, other anti-indigenous proposals that threaten the environment are on the Congress agenda. Other proposed bills include one tailored to help the illegal occupation and deforestation of territories (PL 2633/2020 or PL da Grilagem); one that would allow the construction of roads through national parks (PL 984/2019); a bill that directly attacks Convention 169 for the right to prior informed consultation (PDL 177/2021); and a law to authorize extractive projects on indigenous lands (PL 191/2020). PL 490, approved this Wednesday by the Constitution and Justice Commission, will go to a vote in the plenary soon. Yet, a lawsuit by indigenous peoples will go before the Federal Supreme Court against PL 490 for violating the constitution. The court is scheduled to present its decision on June 30. In their statement, APIB declares: The PL 490 is a flag for Jair Bolsonaro and the bench that claims to represent agribusiness. If approved, in practice it will make demarcations unfeasible, allow the annulment of Indigenous Lands and open them up to predatory undertakings, such as mining, roads, and large hydroelectric plants. The proposal is unconstitutional, according to the assessment of the indigenous movement and jurists. The Chamber of Indigenous Populations and Traditional Communities of the Federal Public Ministry (6CCR / MPF), the highest body linked to the attorney general’s office, also issued a document that establishes that PL 490 violates the Constitution and repeats vices of other legislative proposals contrary to indigenous rights. An open letter to the Supreme Court of Brazil by more than 300 members of civil society explains the historical dispossession of indigenous territories, which became more widespread during a “civilizatory expansion” led by the dictatorship military. They insist that removing legal protections to ancestral lands would open the doors to a violent extermination of indigenous people and culture by economic interests: Although many demarcation processes have begun, there are around 231 stalled demarcation processes and 536 indigenous requests established by working groups to identify other ancestral lands. The paralysis of a large part of FUNAI’s demarcation processes is the result of lawsuits filed by non-indigenous occupiers (farmers or state public authorities) aimed at nullifying administrative acts that declared the ancestrality of indigenous land, currently occupied by them, for commercial purposes or not. Systematic repression and national mobilization Levante pela Terra camp has significant support from the social movement. On June 19, there was a mobilization of more than 30 thousand people demanding vaccination against COVID-19, food security, and against the government’s anti-indigenous agenda. On its June 20 statement, APIB executive coordinator Kretã Kaingang stated, “If we do not die from the virus, Bolsonaro’s anti-indigenous policies will kill us, and we cannot see this without resisting.” Two days later, pending the vote on PL 490 by the commission before Congress, indigenous protesters, including children and the elderly, were attacked by the military police and its repressive apparatus, including an armored vehicle, pepper spray, and tear gas. There were three injured and up to ten people intoxicated. More than 170 organizations signed a letter rejecting the state’s violence against indigenous resistance and rejecting any legislation that promotes: An environmentally predatory and socially exclusive development model. In practice, they will force indigenous peoples to renounce their ancestral way of life. The events in Brasilia were just the most recent expression of this violence organized by a repressive state, either directly by military and police forces or by turning a blind eye to criminal elements such as the garimpeiros. The journal Publica makes an excellent chronicle of that day and how violence against indigenous peoples began days before in their territories to prevent them from reaching Brasilia. Federal deputy Mônica Seixas (Psol-SP) denounced on her Twitter account that that same day, while repressing the indigenous mobilization, Bolsonaro met with representatives of illegal mining and agro-extractivism: “While there is brutal repression against the indigenous peoples who march towards the national congress to say no to PL 490. Bolsonaro only talks with miners and agro-fascists. For the native peoples there’s only bombs and ethnocide.” In their manifesto of the Levante pela Terra, indigenous peoples warn that: These genocidal and ecocidal projects use the Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen, increasing violence against indigenous peoples and conflicts in our territories, even among family members. The government fuels these conflicts to divide, weaken, and demobilize our peoples, organizations, and leaders. Know that we will not let this strategy overwhelm us! A manifesto of the Articulação Nacional das Mulheres Guerreiras da Ancestralidade (ANMIGA) against PL 490 also declares: Women are the guardians of ancestral knowledge. We will never be alone; we will always stand up to every attack on our rights. We remain mobilized, and with the strength of our ancestry, we remain firm in the fight for life and our territories. —ANMIGA Below we reproduce an APIB manifesto on the repression. Life is a struggle! Brasilia June 23, 2021 We struggle with our prayers and chants. Our shields are the maracas and our ancestry. The Government welcomes the agrobusiness through the front door and the indigenous people with gas bombs, pepper spray, rubber bullets, riot police and hate! In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we decided to mobilize the Rise for Earth camp, in Brasília, and prevent the advance of the Federal Government’s anti-indigenous agenda. For the first time in history, a president of the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) closes the dialogue and represses the indigenous movement using heavy police force in the federal capital.. We are attentive to Bill 490, which is on the voting agenda of the Chamber’s Constitution and Justice Commission (CCJ). An unconstitutional proposal that could end the demarcation of Indigenous Lands. Since the 8th of June we have been holding demonstrations against the bill vote, in the outskirts of Congress, but yesterday (22) our mobilization was repressed by the police in yet another attempt to silence our voices. The Federal Constitution of 1988 is being torn down to violate our rights and increase environmental attacks. We decided to fight to the end to ensure not only the future of indigenous peoples, but also the future of humanity. We know that the attacks will not stop and that we are not privileged to stop fighting. We will continue in the federal capital, swinging our maracas so that the whole world knows the importance of our lives until the last indigenous person. We have no choice or we die from the virus or we are slaughtered by the Government’s death policy. We cannot suffer so much violence without reacting. We are in this fight for life and that is why we continue to shout: Indigenous blood, not a single drop more! For the life and historical continuity of our peoples, “Tell the people to move forward”. Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil APIB regional base organizations:APOINME – Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Nordeste, Minas Gerais e Espírito SantoARPIN SUDESTE – Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do SudesteARPINSUL – Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do SulATY GUASU – Grande Assembléia do povo GuaraniComissão Guarani YvyrupaConselho do Povo TerenaCOIAB – Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira FOR MORE INFO: APIB Report: Our fight is for life
A new communications collective that seeks to challenge and transform narratives for climate justice began its work the first week in June with a great enthusiasm and a warm welcome from local groups. Based in what is known today as Mexico and Guatemala, they are a solutions-based collective that uplifts the work and lives of indigenous people. “We, the voices of peoples who for thousands of years have defended life on earth, have a message of hope to share: alternatives to the climate crisis already exist, they are alive,” reads their manifest. With members from Kiliwa, Cucapá, Nahua, Acolhua, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ñu Savi, Hñatho, Amuzga, Purépecha, Ayuuk, Afro-descendant, Zapoteca, Popoluca, Maya, K’iche’, Wayuu, Zoque, and mestizo people, #FuturosIndígenas is challenging the idea that fighting the climate crisis can be done by returning to a romanticized past. “We know that the climate crisis is a result of the systems of structural inequality that govern the world today,” they write, “We are not proposing a return to the past. We do not romanticize precarity. We do not deny the existence of anyone. We do not apologize. We call for a taking of responsibility to stop this machine of extermination.” That “machine of extermination” are powers of historical privilege and structural inequality that place “progress,” “development,” and the corporate economy above life itself, without a care of the limits of our planet or the imposed ethnocide on indigenous, campesino, and Afro-descendent people. #FuturosIndígenas was brought together through a collaboration between Hackeo Cultural, a narrative and communications collective that became active last year during the pandemic, and Ambulante, a documentary nonprofit organization, with financing from the British Council. Twenty-six fellows were chosen from over 200 leaders, artists, writers, communicators, and land and rights defenders to be able to participate in this narrative laboratory and work collaboratively to make #FuturosIndígenas possible. We spoke with one of its members, anthropologist and communications expert María Tzuc Dzib, about her experience. She explained how they formed different groups in defense of water, land, territories, food sovereignty, and after a detailed analysis of current corporate media stories, they built a clear response with indigenous and campesino narratives. The result has been an impressive solutions-based initiative that calls to heal the earth through community management of water and energy, trusting local indigenous autonomies, which are best positioned to care for life in their territories. “They generally refer to them, to us, as an enemy against progress or development,” said Tzuc Dzib about their efforts to change that narrative in corporate news media and that the alternatives are well and alive in the original peoples. Through a series of visually and auditory impactful actions–from multilingual radio clips to songs from local artists to recipes of resistance and social justice posters–#FuturosIndígenas pushes participants to go beyond calling out oppression and celebrate our identities and linguistic diversity, search for memory and justice, honor the knowledge and spirituality of our ancestors, and organize locally to resist but also to celebrate through community and neighborhood festivals. “This change of narrative can help us see things in a different way, also demonstrate a different way of struggle. And show that despite the violence that we may be experiencing, that many regional groups and localities may be experiencing, we continue to exist and we have life,” dijo Tzuc Dzib. “We need to see reality, but we can’t lose hope. We also need to share our joys.” #FuturosIndígenas collective also doesn’t cease to question the structural problems that prevent us from advancing comprehensive solutions. Their #EnergíaParaQuién (EnergyForWhom) action, for example, questions the push for clean energies while ignoring the exploitation of indigenous territories, such as lithium mining. “The current energetic model is not focused on satisfying the needs of the people but machines that enrich a few,” they explain. To quote again their manifest: There is enough water, food and land for all people and all lives to exist with dignity in this territory called Mexico, in this common home called Earth. We can regenerate the life systems to which our future is linked. But change must be at the root. Because after every crisis, we don’t want to return to normality, we want to return to the earth.
FROM THE EDITORS: Bernardo Caal Xol has become a symbol of resistance in Guatemala, as well as of the criminalization of people defending Mother Earth. Caal is Maya Q’eqchi and together with his community organized a campaign against Oxec S.A., a transnational in charge of the construction of two hydroelectric dams on the Cahabón River, violating the peoples’ right to prior and informed consultation. Having managed to stop the construction of the dam for a few months and due to his peaceful resistance, Caal was unjustly sentenced to 7 years in prison for his activism in November 2018. He is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. This past June 4, hundreds of peasants and indigenous people convened in the Parque Central of Cobán to demand the freedom of Bernardo Caal Xol and declare once again their rights to defend rivers, water, and life itself. We reproduce below their collective Manifest. MANIFESTFor freedom for our rivers, freedom for Bernardo Caaland other political prisoners Today lajeb’Kej, June 4, 2021, with the respect and permission of Oxlaju Tzuul Taq’a energy, the daughters and sons of the Earth –Aj Ralch’och– originating from four corners, we have decided to join our paths, feelings, and thoughts. We organize ourselves to march against and reject violence, historical racism, and political persecution of our leaders and human rights defenders by the economic elites, hydroelectric companies, oil palm companies, the military, operators of the co-opted judicial system and the pact of corruption. Despite different attempts to exterminate our people, since the Spanish invasion, we continue to raise our voice, we continue to walk to defend water, which is the defense of life itself. We reject the continuous and multiple violations of our individual and collective rights, the stigmatization and criminalization against community authorities, for exercising our practices, ancestral knowledge and safeguard our systems of traditional organizations and institutions for the defense of our Mother Earth. The increase of high socio-environmental and agrarian conflicts in the territories are derived from the technical and institutional incapacity of the State, but mainly a lack of political will. The closure of public agrarian institutions such as the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs, the Presidential Commission for Human Rights, means a setback and an attack against the Peace Accords. The criminalization and prosecution of human rights defenders is a strategy used by political and business interests, perversely condemning leaders, such as defender Bernardo Caal, who has been unjustly in prison for more than three years for denouncing OXEC’s hydroelectric megaprojects, built by the Spanish conglomerate Grupo Cobra – ACS, which is killing the Cahabón River, a sacred river for the Maya Q’eqchi’ people. That is, warrants for the arrest of more than 962 people and the 35-year sentence for the leaders of the Peasant Committee of the Altiplano Marcelino Coc and Jorge Xol. The disappearance of the leader Carlos Coy of the Unión Verapacense Organizaciones Campesinas. Additionally, we must add to these systematic attacks the states of exception imposed by the central government. Finally, we reaffirm our struggles for the defense of our rights of historical possession over our ancestral territories, rivers, and Mother Earth. Faced with the attacks by criminal structures and the pact of corruption, we express our solidarity and support for the work carried out by the Human Rights Ombudsman and the Special Prosecutor for Impunity – FECI-. We demand, STOP CRIMINALIZATION! Movimiento de Comunidades en Defensa del Agua, Qana’Cho’och’Movimiento Social Intercultural del Pueblo Ixcán, MSIPIComité Campesino del Altinplano, CCDAComité de Unidad Campesina, CUCUnión Verapacense de Organizaciones Campesinas, UVOCConsejo de Pueblos Tezulutlan, CPTComunidades en resistencia de CahabónComunidades en Resistencia de San Pedro CarchaAutoridades indígenas y ancestralesAsociación Coordinaodra Comunitaria de Servicos para la Salud, ACCSSAsociación de Comunidades para el Desarrollo, Defensa de la Tierra y los Recursos Naturales, ACODETRed Nacional por la Defensa de la Soberaniá Alimentaria en Guatemala, REDSAGRed AguaInstancia del Pueblo Maya Q’eqchi’ y Poqomchi’Servicio Jurídicos y Sociales, SERJUSAsociación de Servicios Comunitarios de Salud, ASECSACoordinación de ONG y Cooperativas, CONGCOOPAsociación de jóvenes para el desarrollo y rescate social, AJODERMadre SelvaMaíz de Vida SOURCE: Originally published by Comité de Unidad Campesina. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Join Amnesty International’s campaign to free Bernardo Caal.
FROM THE EDITORS: In Ecuador, one of the first legislative actions of conservative President Guillermo Lasso has been to attempt to reform Ecuador’s Communication Law. By highlighting “freedom of expression” as an individual right, the new law would supersede rights already won under the Communication Law, which guarantee the right to information and communication as a collective human right. Independent press, community and indigenous media suffered major offensives and setbacks during the last 15 years of Alianza País rule. They now foresee a new repressive and restrictive neoliberal wave, with the pretense of “defending” individual freedoms by restricting collective communication rights and paving the way for greater corporate media monopolies. Fair access to media production and communications is a right that sets to undo centuries of dominant colonial and corporate narratives. That is why Awasqa shares a translation of this Open Letter signed by the community media groups and organizations of Ecuador. An Open Letter from the Community Communication Groups to the Country Free, intercultural, inclusive, diverse, and participatory communication is a Constitutional right for everyone. (Art. 16) Therefore, the State must guarantee the allocation of frequencies through transparent methods and in equal conditions for public, private, and community media, avoiding the monopoly and concentration in the concession of frequencies. (Art.17 Constitution of Ecuador) We raise our voices as a plural and broad sector of communication and journalism in Ecuador, represented by community communications, community media, communicators, journalists, community communication associations, audiovisual producers, Afro-descendant and Indigenous Peoples, academics and researchers, and the public media sector. We express here our concern regarding the repeal of the current Organic Law of Communication Regulations and Organic Law of Freedom of Expression and Communication law proposal sent by President Guillermo Lasso to the National Assembly for its consideration. We are making an energetic and urgent call so that the possible changes to the current Organic Law of Communication are not regressive in communication rights for the community and public sectors. We believe that the State must comply with its obligation to guarantee rights contemplated under the Constitution and the Organic Law of Communication, approved in 2013 and later reformed in 2018: access to frequencies; the creation of their own communication media for communities, groups, and social organizations; setting aside 34% of the total radio-electric spectrum for this sector; and safeguarding institutions such as the Council for the Promotion and Regulation of Information and Communication established via referendum in 2011, which makes it possible to make public communication policies viable. To guarantee true freedom of expression, the democratization of communication, and independent audiovisual production in our country, it is necessary to adhere to the following Affirmative Actions provided for under the current Organic Law of Communication: training, tax exemptions for imported equipment, preferential credits, and funds. Both the Executive and the National Assembly must recognize and remember that those articles susceptible to political abuse to sanction and prosecute journalistic work were removed already from the legislation. In this sense, we look with concern at some articles present in the bill prepared by the Executive, which places Freedom of Expression as an individual right and not as a collective right of the Nations. This individualistic notion of freedom of expression omits the right of groups to create their own communication, reducing Freedom of Expression as exclusive to journalists and the media and not as a right of all citizens. By not recognizing communication as a right, it omits the responsibility of the State regarding this issue and the will of State agencies whether or not to grant frequency concessions, thus leaving the principles of equity and equality established by the Constitution inapplicable. Article 9 of the cited bill proposal, although recognizes the right to intercultural and plurinational communication produced by Indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian, and Montubio peoples and nationalities, recognized; it seems merely declarative. Without access to radio and television frequencies, this postulate becomes a dead letter that cannot guarantee access to radio and television media. We believe the country requires for the National Assembly to debate a bill that makes the right to communication, as enshrined in the Constitution, and freedom of expression viable, allowing for a broad and plural participation, public debate, and analysis of the regulatory framework by all sectors that make up the country’s communication system, within the allotted times and appropriate mechanisms. We urge the new government to review the processes for awarding frequencies developed by the previous government, which kept the concentration of frequencies in a few hands, completely ignoring the 2009 Audit of the Concessions of Radio and Television Frequencies and Article 17 of the Constitution that restricts oligopolies or monopolies, direct or indirect, of the ownership of the communication media and the use of frequencies. The community communication sector will be vigilant of the actions by the National Assembly, assembly members, and the Executive to prevent any planned regressive measures. We invite the general public, social organizations, academia, groups, and communities to join us in drafting a Law that strengthens information and communication rights within a framework of Plurinational and Intercultural Rights. It is essential and urgent to recognize that communication is a right that gives voice to all human rights. ! Without community media, there is no freedom of expression! Signed:– Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador CONAIE– Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana CONFENIAE– Confederación de Pueblos de la Nacionalidad Kichwa del Ecuador ECUARUNARI– Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación y Comunicación Popular, ALER – Coordinadora de Medios Comunitarios Populares y Educativos del Ecuador. CORAPE– Coalición de Comunicación y Medios Comunitarios del Ecuador – El Churo Comunicación– Asociación de Productores Audiovisuales Kichwas APAK – Agencia Latinoamericana de Información – ALAI– CoopDocs– Lanceros digitales – LaLibre.net Tecnologías Comunitarias– La Gazzetta del Zángano – Radio Kimsakocha– Radio Kipa – Radio La Voz de la CONFENIAE– Radio Latacunga– Radio MICC– Radio La Voz de las Cascadas Vivas– Radio Tuna– Red Kapari Comunicación – TV MICC – Urku Kapari– WambraEc, medio digital comunitario– AfroComunicacionesEc– ACAPANA: Asociación de Creadores de Cine y Audiovisual de Pueblos y Nacionalidades– APAK TV– Asociación Latinoamericana de Investigadores de la Comunicación (ALAIC)– Minga por la Pachamama– Comunidad Amazonica Cordillera del Condor mirador– Colectivo Pro Derechos Humanos– Pressenza – Radialistas Apasionadas y Apasionados – Radio Jatari Kichwa– Facultad de Comunicación Social, FACSO – UCE– Mauro Cerbino, profesor investigador– Isabel Ramos– Francisco Ordónez Contacts for interviews and more information: Apawki Castro, CONAIE Communication Director (098 385 6491) Verónica Calvopiña, El Churo Comunicación (0984693686) Hernán Reyes, professor and teacher (098 466 1876) Jorge Guachamín, CORAPE ( 099 275 3928)
Since the bombing of Gaza began in early May, killing at least 240 Palestinians and leaving behind scores of flattened buildings and family apartments, indigenous people across Abya Yala have called out for an end to settler colonialism of Palestine. Although a cease fire has been called, many see clear parallels between the resistance of Palestinians for their homeland to centuries-old struggles of indigenous people against colonial power and the right to exist. These are just a few examples of what we saw via social media. Music producer and song writer Frank Waln recalled his visit to Palestine in 2017 with a delegation of the Dream Defenders, “In 2017 I went to Palestine as a member of an artist delegation organized by @Dreamdefenders. What I witnessed was settler colonialism and genocide happening in way that mirrored what I know about how the US government enacted genocide on my people.” As a Lakota, Waln shared on his Twitter feed how transformative his visit had been, particularly when seeing the parallels between the Palestinian struggle and the US colonization of indigenous lands. “One of the biggest similarities I saw/see is how media frames colonization and genocide as a ‘conflict’ or ‘battle’ between two sides when in fact it is one side colonizing while people defend themselves against that genocide. They did the same and called our massacres ‘battles’,” he wrote. Another similarity he drew was the “open air prison system run by the colonizers” in Gaza and the West Bank, which he equated to the forced relocation of indigenous people in reservations. He then shared a song he wrote after his trip to Palestine, inspired by their struggle, their resilience, and “the beautiful art and music I witnessed.” The NDN collective called upon Congress and the US government to stop fueling the billions of military aid sent to the Israeli government every year. “We know all too well the impacts that colonialism, genocide and land theft had on our families, communities and Nations, and the U.S. is complicit in this,” said Krystal Two Bulls in a statement. Nick Tilsen, NDN’s president and CEO, Oglala Lakota and also Jewish from his father side added that the forced removal and continued violence of Palestinians was nothing less than genocide. “From one Indigenous Peoples to another, the fight for land back, self-determination and sovereignty will always be embraced as a collective struggle, wherein we continue to leverage our power as people who live within these colonial borders, existing despite them,” he said. From Ecuador, members of ACAPANA, a collective of film and documentary makers, expressed solidarity with Palestinians and against the “criminal violence of the State of Israel.” “Those of us who are part of the indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian peoples that make up ACAPANA, we send all the strength, solidarity, and rebellion of our peoples. The struggle of the Palestinian people is our struggle,” they said on a video published recently. Many also recalled declarations made a couple of years ago by Mapuche leader Moira Millán, member of the Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas por el Buen Vivir, in which she saw clear parallels between the Palestinian struggle with the criminalization of Mapuches in defense for their land. “I always say that the Mapuche Nation is South America’s Palestine,” she said in an interview with Canal Abierto, where she talked about the exploitation of Mapuche’s resource-rich territories and the criminalization of her people. “There are large transnational corporations with billionaire interests that have to face the barrier of the rights of a Nation, the Mapuche Nation, who will always defend life and our territories, and they want to get rid of us,” she said. Millán has been leading a campaign against terricide in the Southern Cone, trying to tipify it as a crime against nature and against humanity.
We are facing a critical moment of extinction, staring at us straight on, with burning eyes that spell climate disaster. While global agencies like the International Energy Agency, a body created in 1974 specifically to ensure oil security, are calling for a phasing out of fossil fuels to transition to alternative energies; corporate oil can’t let go of their addiction, no matter how harmful it might seem to those around them. Countries continue as well their dependency on oil when the consequences—climate disasters, drought, failed crops, forest fires, pandemics, dwindling biodiversity—are much more costly than whatever earnings fossil fuels might bring. Canada’s tar sand oils in Alberta is one of such extractive projects, dubbed “the most destructive oil operation” by National Geographic, the industry is losing more money each year, as investors leave the industry behind. Tar sands pipelines cross the Northern Hemisphere, through pristine landscapes, threatening water sources, and the way of life of indigenous people and everyone on this planet. According to a Scientific American article, tar sands oil has greenhouse gas emissions greater than New Zealand and Kenya—combined, producing 14 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil. It has done so but not without resistance. In 2016, indigenous leaders across the border between the US and Canada signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion “to officially prohibit and to agree to collectively challenge and resist the use of our respective territories and coasts in connection with the expansion of the production of the Alberta Tar Sands.” Since then, thanks to the activism of thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous environmentalists, two prospect oil pipelines, the Northern Gateway and Energy East, have been cancelled, followed by the Keystone XL Pipeline extension, Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline easement was recently revoked, and activists are working to shut down Enbridge Line 3. Treaty People Gathering Against Line 3 In the state of Minnesota, Native women have been leading the fight against Enbridge Line 3 for the last several years. During a call on May 18, Dawn Goodwin from RISE, Tara Houska from the Giniw Collective, Winona LaDuke from Honor the Earth, and Taysha Martineau from Camp Migizi, talked about the ongoing fight against the Line 3 expansion and invited activists to join the Treaty People Gathering between June 5-8 in Northern Minnesota. The Line 3 pipeline construction has been touted by Enbridge as a replacement pipeline project, but its own documentation shows that one of their main goals is to increase flow capacity from 390,000 to 760,000 barrels per day. The new pipeline would crisscross 227 lakes and rivers through 300,000 miles, including the Mississippi River. Winona LaDuke says Line 3 violates Ojibwe people’s rights to hunt, fish and gather they retained under treaties signed with the US government. “The climate crisis negates our treaties because it places our ways of life at risk,” said Dawn Goodwin. Tara Houska echoed the sentiment placing it at the level of cultural genocide. LaDuke explained that for the past seven years they have taken every legal measure possible, taken multiple actions, and faced over 200 arrests to try to stop Line 3 construction but more pressure is needed. That’s why they are calling all environmental allies to join them in Minnesota June 5-8 for a set of collective actions. Unlike Standing Rock, organizers of the Treaty People Gathering are not planning to hold just one camp to resist the pipeline but 22 different camps to protect 22 rivers. “We are asking you to stand here with us and for those to come,” Houska said, who was herself detained with fellow activists in late March for resisting the pipeline construction. Taysha Martineau, overseeing Camp Migizi to resist the pipeline section being built on Fond Du Lac Reservation, reminded folks that extractive projects in indigenous communities always bring violence against women, who already suffer sexual violence and murder at alarming rates. “There is a 22% increase in these statistics when pipelines are built in our communities. People should not be living in fear on our lands,” she said. “Line 3 would have the climate impact of 50 new coal-fired power plants—operating at full steam for decades. We must resist. Join us in northern MN,” stated folks from Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light in a tweet. They are one of the 45+ organizations who are joining this effort and hope to pressure President Biden use his executive power to shut down Line 3, once and for all. FOR MORE INFORMATION:– Stop Line 3 campaign has been doing weekly updates of the actions against tar sands oils– Treaty People Gathering– Visit the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust initiative to learn about tar sands resistance in Western Canada– The Dilbit Disaster, detailing the Kalamazoo River oil spill in 2010– 50+ First Nations Sign Treaty to Unify Fight Against Tar Sands, Colorlines
APIB calls for the unity of the peoples: “After the worst March of our lives, we will bring April’s greatest mobilization of our struggles!“ The struggle of the indigenous peoples of Brazil to defend their land, territory, the environment, and the Amazon region of Mother Earth under their custody, has been extraordinary in exceptional conditions. They have had to confront Bolsonaro’s government brutality, which has not only ignored legal regulations that protect the rainforest and its inhabitants, but has also promoted the invasion, aggression, and proliferation of extractive projects (mining and gambusinos, loggers, and biodiversity traffickers) . This has been aggravated by the incidence of the pandemic―the National Committee for Life and Memory of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) reports that more than half of the 305 indigenous nations that inhabit Brazil have been affected by the pandemic. With more than 50 thousand infected and at least 1037 indigenous dead so far. In this context, the 17th Acampamento Terra Livre (Free Land Camp or ATL for its acronym in Portuguese) was launched from April 5 to 30, 2021. With more than 60 virtual events, this is one the largest virtual political mobilizations of Amazonian peoples in the span of 25 days. Guests have included members of various local and federal organizations, as well as women leaders, students, teachers, young communicators, artists, and other indigenous groups. In 2004, a call was made to end “guardianship” policies, recognize the ethnic plurality of indigenous peoples in Brazil, and reclaim a greater role in the decision-making to promote rights and sovereignty agendas. For the first Acampamento Terra Livre in 2004, caravans of indigenous leaders gathered in Brasilia, frustrated by severe violations of human and land rights under different left and right-wing regimes. At that time, a call was made to end “guardianship” policies, recognize the ethnic plurality of indigenous peoples in Brazil, and reclaim a greater role in the decision-making to promote rights and sovereignty agendas. From this historic meeting, the APIB was created in 2005 to cohere the national indigenous movement of Brazil represented in more than the 300 organizations that are APIB’s members today, including the following regional entities: Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Nordeste, Minas Gerais e Espírito Santo (APOINME) Conselho do Povo Terena Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Sudeste (ARPINSUDESTE) Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Sul (ARPINSUL) Grande Assembléia do povo Guarani (ATY GUASU) Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira (COIAB) Comissão Guarani Yvyrupa The APIB together with the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), an indigenous organization representing more than 64 base regions in the Amazon―celebrating its 32 years of existence as well―organized the 17th Acampamento Terra Livre taking place for virtually the 2nd consecutive year. Among the various virtual events of the ATL programming, we highlight “Strategies of the Network of Young Indigenous Communicators in the defense of the territories,” where panelists discussed the importance of communication as a instrument to combat racism, defend rights, and uplift the protagonism of diverse indigenous voices. Daiara Tukano from Radio Yandê, for example, shared her observations on the importance of artistic production: “Radio Yandê has been a platform … that has been very important in promoting indigenous music production, launching indigenous musicians, speaking to writers, filmmakers, the type of indigenous production that is also present in several disputed territories … Sometimes it is very difficult for our organizations to open a little more space for this type of indigenous creation. Since the first step is always to denounce and speak about rights, we leave aside the creators, musicians, writers, and family members that produce essential work that enriches our existence, our self-esteem. We need to show everything that we are capable of doing. I think it is necessary to bring these two fronts together.” Maracá’s film production, for example, released in August of last year, is testimony to the power of bringing togehter artistic endeavors and political demands: To follow up on the multiple activities of the Acampamento Terra Livre and its historical memory, you may access the official website of the APIB or video collection, social networks at COAIB and Mídia Ninja. Witnessing the indigenous approach to today’s world problems gives us hope for the future, in our collective viability of defending the land, water and territory, as the basis for the survival of humanity, of Pacha Mama, of all. FOR MORE INFORMATION:https://www.facebook.com/coiabamazoniaoficialhttps://coiab.org.br/https://apiboficial.org/atl2021/