The Kichwa People of Sarayacu

Dec 6, 2003

PRESS RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE

Puyo, December 4, 2003

The Kichwa People of Sarayacu, in fulfillment of its historic declaration that it will defend its ancestral territories and its absolute opposition to petroleum related exploitation on its lands, is now informing all authorities (whether they be at the local, provincial, national or international levels) as well as the media, indigenous organizations, human rights NGOs, and all other elements of Ecuadoran civil society that:

Today, December 4, 2003, at five in the afternoon a group of 120 persons from the Kichwa People of Sarayacua in a group comprised of leaders, women, teens, and children were crossing the Bobonaza river in the direction of the city of Puyo where they intended to participate in a peaceful march to be held on the 5th and 6th to voice their opposition to oil exploitation activities sponsored by multinational corporations in their traditional territories in as much as those activities represent a grave threat to their own autonomy as well as a threat to the natural resources of the area. Just as the group was advancing towards Canelos, it was intercepted and prevented from continuing the journey by a group subsidized by the oil companies. Moreover, leaders of the Kichwa People of Sarayacu, were detained and violently attacked with machetes, batons, rocks, and even firearms. At present it is known that the following members of the community have been affected: Franco Viteri, Dionisio Machoa, Carmensa Malaver, Isidro Gualinga, Heriberto Gualinga, Victoria Santi, and other persons who have not yet been identified. We the Kichwa People of Sarayacu hereby condemn these violent acts directed at destroying the unity of indigenous peoples and demand the intervention on the part of all competent authorities at the provincial and national levels that have jurisdiction over the security of the citizenry. We specifically appeal to the Governor of the Province, the National Police Force, the Armed Forces, the Defensoria of the People, and the Ministers of State and Government. Furthermore, we the Kichwa People of Sarayucu, in response to these events aimed at repressing and negating our legitimate to right to self-determination as a people, are asking all indigenous peoples and nationalities as well as allied national and international NGOs to unite with us in order to strengthen our historic struggle. Given in the TayjasarutaSarayaku meeting hall

Marlon Santi PRESIDENT OF THE AUTONOMOUS TERRITORY OF THE INGENOUS NATION OF THE KICHWA PEOPLE OF SARAYAKU TAYJASARUTA