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Nemonte Nenquimo: Correa, Moreno and Lasso have never respected nature. We will continue to resist

He adds that the money from oil extraction, for the most part, leaves the country and that a minimum percentage is left only by the large cities of Ecuador.

Last Monday, October 18, indigenous organizations filed a lawsuit of unconstitutionality against President Guillermo Lasso for signing Decree 95, which regulates the issue of environmental licenses. Among the representatives of the groups was Nemonte Nenquimo, Waorani leader and president of the Coordinating Council of the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador-Pastaza, who affirms that the document signed by the Executive will increase extractive activities in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSO, she describes Lasso as being a “very dangerous president” due to what she considers a change of discourse on the issue of protecting the environment and ancestral territories.

She affirms that her opposition does not make her as an indigenous leader or as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in climate action, but as a young woman and mother who seeks to leave a future for her children.

Why do you say that Decree 95 encourages mining in indigenous territories?

We made a direct lawsuit against President Guillermo Lasso because decree 95 is a very big threat not only for the Waorani people, but for the entire Amazon because oil will expand more.

Our territory, our jungle is our home. We live from the river, from fishing, from animals, we gather the fruit of the jungle, the plants are our medicine and all this will be destroyed. That is why we come together to make a single union and sue for the danger.

What do you expect from the analysis of the Constitutional Court?

They are the highest authority. Guillermo Lasso has not shown respect and has made (the decree) without consulting the indigenous peoples in the communities. He thinks that just because he is president he can expand (the oil frontier), make the jungle whatever he wants, but we are not going to allow this.

The oil companies already exist in Waorani territory and in that of other nationalities and we have not seen the development that the Government is talking about, in education and health. As a Waorani woman, who lives in the territory, I can say that the oil companies cause disease, environmental damage. If oil is expanded, it will reach Pastaza and we are healthy and free there. We want to live free with our children, with autonomy.

So what the Constitutional Court must do is destroy this decree immediately.

On Monday you, along with other indigenous leaders, said that this lawsuit would be the first of several actions you will take to try to stop extractive activities. What are these other measures?

We are vigilant. We know that this president is very dangerous. He knows that he should have consulted the Constitutional Court before signing the decree, but he did not.

(Lasso) has been talking with the Waoranis of Orellana, with former leaders and that is why he says that he has a dialogue with the Wao people, to see the development mechanisms to further expand oil and mining. But you must understand that you must talk with the communities and if we say no, you must listen and respect.

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We know that if the indigenous peoples each go their own way we will be very weak and what we want is to defeat oil, mining, deforestation, agricultural expansion, colonization.

Furthermore, this fight is not just for indigenous peoples. In the world we are already living with climate change, a pandemic, and this has not taught the leaders of capitalism anything. All of society must join our protest because it is for life, for the planet, for leaving a future for our children.

Former presidents like Rafael Correa, who called himself on the left; Lenín Moreno, who claimed to be from the center, and the current president Lasso, who is from the right, speak of respect for nature, of ecological transition, but in all these governments, with different political flags, the idea of ​​extractivism took over. Why do you think that respect for nature has remained only in the speech?

They will never respect, they always want money. They did not think about the life of indigenous peoples and the right of nature. None of them have had a heart or respect for the people. They only use (the environmental argument) until they come to power. They say it in the campaign, but then they never respect it.

I am very sure that no president is going to respect our territory, but rather that they will want to make better use of our resources. That is why I call on all nationalities, all societies, to make a change. My mission goes far beyond being an indigenous leader, but as a young woman and mother who seeks to leave a future for her children.

Oil coexists in a jungle that cannot be touched in Ecuador

We will continue to resist. Governments only see the development of cities, but are we indigenous people not human? We have the same rights as cities. All the presidents of Ecuador have never respected our rights, the right to nature.

Oil activities would already reach sensitive areas such as the Yasuní National Park buffer zone. What impact will the uncontacted peoples suffer from this decision?

We were told that they would use the best technology and that has not happened. Nobody has really gone to Yasuní to see how it is really being affected, how they are expanding the road. The exploitation has already reached the buffer zone and will soon reach the intangible.

It really is sad, I get tears. Now that I talk about this topic my heart hurts, my people are poor, my nature is poor. That decree (95) is death.

If you say that oil and mining have not generated development in Amazonian communities, then where has all that wealth gone?

There is no development. It is totally death. City people think that the jungle is an empty place and do not understand our thinking. (The wealth) goes abroad and a minimum percentage remains for the large cities of Ecuador. There is really no support in the Amazon. (I)

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