Indigenous Women are Fighting to Save the Amazon
"Our fight isn't only for the Waorani people, but for all nationalities, and the world that is breathing the air." Meet the indigenous women leading the fight to save the Amazon rainforest.
Indigenous people fighting so others like them can win their fights
Our fight isn’t only for the Waorani people, but for all nationalities, and the world that is breathing the air. These indigenous women are fighting to protect their home — the Amazon rainforest. Waorani leader Nemonte Nenquimo and Kofan leader Alexandra Narvaez are from Ecuador. They’ve led historic legal victories against oil drilling and gold mining that’s protected their ancestral Amazon territory. Nenquimo and Narvaez say they’re devastated about the fires burning the Amazon in Brazil, having just returned from the first Indigenous Women’s March denouncing the pro-development policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
“The greatest threat for us is mining. because I’ve heard that Sinangoe is full of mines, Sinangoe is full of gold. And that’s why large companies from other countries want to enter our territory, to take out the gold. We want our territory to be respected. No more threats, no more mining. If they cut our trees, contaminate our water, what are we left with? As women of the Amazon, we will never be quiet. We will keep talking. We will keep pronouncing. We will keep using our voices that should be respected,”
Since Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, there have been over 72,000 fires in Brazil — 85% more than in 2018. Environmentalists say the surge is due to farmers clearing land for agricultural use, emboldened by Bolsonaro’s pro-development policies. The Amazon is the largest remaining tropical rainforest and produces 20% of the world’s oxygen. It helps regulate the planet’s temperature. In April 2019, Nenquimo and the Waorani people won a landmark court ruling against the Ecuadorian government which protected half a million acres of rainforest from oil drilling. In 2018, Narvaez and her Sinangoe community also won a victory against the government —saving 79,000 acres of rainforest and thehhhhg Aguarico River from gold mining.