The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ecuador's government investigates report of attack on Indians in Amazon jungle

QUITO, Ecuador (AP via PR-Inside) - Ecuadorean officials are investigating the reported killings of an undetermined number of Huaorani Indians by illegal loggers in an Amazonian nature reserve, Security Minister Gustavo Larrea said Thursday.
«The information was passed to us by certain people in the region, and we are trying to confirm it now,» Larrea told the Associated Press.
Huaorani leaders said illegal loggers killed five tribesmen with shotguns in Yasuni National Park last Sunday_ revising their initial estimate of as many as 15 killed.
Several indigenous groups live in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador's largest and a UNESCO biosphere reserve where logging is prohibited. Conflicts with illegal loggers are common, but arrests are rare due to the tribes' isolation.
Ecuador's national indigenous federation and an organization representing the Huaorani denounced the killings Wednesday, after a local tribesman sent word that illegal loggers may have fired at the Indians between Feb 4 and 6.
The shootings were not reported for more than a week because the victims, Tagaeri and Taromenane tribesmen belonging to the Huaorani ethnic group, live in voluntary isolation deep within the 758,000 hectare (1,873,059 acres) biosphere reserve.
«It's difficult to know if there were only five murdered or more. To tell the truth, it is a dangerous trip» to the place where the bodies were reported found, said Enqueri Nihua Ehuenguime, president of the Huaorani Nationality Organization of Ecuador.

Yasuni, like much of Ecuador's Amazon basin, is rich in mahogany, cedar and other trees that yield valuable lumber. The jungle area also holds an estimated 1 billion barrels of crude oil.
The Interamerican Human Rights Commission has petitioned Ecuador to implement controls to protect the Tagaeri and Taromenane, and in October the government prohibited all logging and mining activity in the area.
President Rafael Correa has asked the international community for at least US$350 million a year in contributions for 10 years to compensate Ecuador for income lost by not drilling in the park's Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha oil fields.
After an investigation, the government in May 2006 dismissed reports that between two and 30 Huaorani Indians were massacred in retaliation for attacking two loggers with spears in the same region. The two loggers returned wounded to Quito, where one of them died.

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