The women of the Amazon are uniting together. Recently Patricia Gualinga a prominent woman of Sarayaku had rocks thrown in her window and was threatened by men surrounding her home. The women of the area have begun meeting weekly in Puyo to be united to protect one another.
Ecuador owes China over $30 million dollars. As part of repayment, the government of Ecuador has allowed Chinese fossil fuel corporations to drill in the Amazon. According to Kevin Koenig from Amazon Watch, “"Those projects, led by Chinese and Canadian companies, have resulted in the forced removal of indigenous communities and clashes with the police, culminating in a state of emergency in 2016 that paralyzed the project for months.” More here: Ecuadorean Referendum
Gloria Ushigua Santi, a leader of women in Sarayaku, has discussed the dangers that everyone, but particularly women, face that is resulting in physical violence because of the oil industry in their territory. Oftentimes, these are men who work for the fossil fuel industry. They are outsiders without any ties to the Indigenous communities and there are no means of holding them accountable. Women are constantly in fear of violence and assault from these men.
For those who have been working in the environmental justice sector or have a passing knowledge of what the fossil fuel industry does to communities, the term 'man camps' is recognized. These man camps are located near oil extraction projects. Workers, exclusively men, are brought in to these fossil fuel projects. They are isolated in these camps for long periods of time. The result is a correlation between the camps and indigenous women who are raped, kidnapped, murdered or oftentimes simply go missing without a trace.
The reality of the Sapara women being afraid of the danger of assault is familiar if not the exact same fear of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (#MMIW) movement here in North America, Canada and Mexico. There cannot be a continuance of indigenous women becoming victims and no accountability for perpetrators. There should not be this common fear amongst indigenous communities of men working in these extractive industries whether in the North or the South.
There is much talk throughout indigenous communities about bringing together the North and the South and how that will bring about this great change when Indigenous people rise up together to take a stand for their rights, their women, their culture and safety. When I first began my journey the idea of bringing together the North and the South seemed like a huge task, and it still is a huge task. The question for me, personally, has always been what can my part in this be? I feel like I walk a line between the North and the South because I live in the North but my blood comes from the South, even though I don't have the connection yet. I wish there was a word to describe the "excitement" I feel to finally feeling like I have something to offer to help bring together my South to my North. It's not "exciting" but more of a profound feeling of hope that I feel.
My name is María Dorsey. I am a member of Idle No More SF Bay, a volunteer with Amazon Watch, a signer of the Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty, a massage therapist, an artist and a two spirit woman trying to find my place here in the world. I formed a deep bond with Treaty sister, Gloria Ushigua Santi when she was in the San Francisco Bay Area to participate in the Refinery Corridor Healing Walks in 2017. I am currently living with Gloria and her community deep in the Amazon of Ecuador. I plan on living there until August of this year.
You can support my work at my gofundme site.
I am also on facebook.