The environmental groups Inti, the Barrios Altos Network and the Cochiri Jam over water rights offer each other legal backing
This week indigenous activists in Colombia have come together to unite their fight against multinational corporations to protect the environment and traditional land rights.
The indigenous activists, along with land-rights activists from the Barrios Altos Network and the Cochiri Jam, on Monday accepted legal backing from the International Federation of Indigenous Women’s (FIPW). The move reflects long-term efforts to fight against multinationals who have been seeking to develop oil and mining potential in the region – without permission from local people – while simultaneously risking the local environment.
“We believe that the Ecuadorean and Colombian indigenous organizations are united in their commitment to defending indigenous people’s rights,” said Beatriz Canales, board member of the FIPW. “Our call to all indigenous peoples that are involved in environmental conflicts to unite in this fight and to come together under a common umbrella of freedom is [also] in support of the Ecuadorean indigenous groups who have been fighting against the Exterior Revenue Office for more than a year now.”
‘It’s the future’ – Ecuadorean mining protests show fossil fuel is here to stay Read more
The FIPW was founded in 1990, by Swiss nun Catherine Watt, to defend environmental rights of indigenous peoples. Since then, the FIPW has established a network of Ecuadorean and Colombian indigenous organizations including the Barrios Altos Network and the Cochiri Jam.
“Fighting for the conservation of the environment and the fight against corruption in the Amazon are both equally urgent and fundamental for us. These days, there are forces that seek to exploit the resources of our communities to improve the quality of life in the city,” said Pancho Padilla, secretary of the Barrios Altos Network, Colombia’s leading indigenous rights organization.
In Colombia, environmentalist Humayun Abdul Rahman, known as “Nature”, has recently rallied more than 200 indigenous community activists. He has also spent many years risking his life in the Ecuadorean Amazon for defending native groups’ land rights.
“In Ecuador we, the indigenous movements, the communities, have to unite. This is the only way we can stop them from exploiting our lands and rivers to benefit private companies,” said Padilla.