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Monday, May 25, 2009

Ecuadorian Indian Rights Activist Dies at 100

QUITO – Transito Amaguaña, a well-known defender of Indian rights in Ecuador, died in her native village of Pesillo, the Kichwa Ecuarunari Confederation said Monday. She was 100.

Amaguaña fought for the human rights of Indians throughout her life.

She participated in the creation of the Andean country’s first agricultural unions and joined other human rights activists in founding the Ecuadorian Federation of Indians in 1944.

Amaguaña later organized and promoted agricultural cooperatives as an instrument for bringing social and political pressure to bear on the government in the struggle to get land for Indians.

She started schools for peasants on her own and without government support in 1945, founding four schools where classes were taught in both Spanish and Quechua.

Amaguaña spent time behind bars on several occasions. Returning to Ecuador in 1963 from a gathering in the Soviet Union, she was accused of taking Russian money and arms to start a revolution in the Andean nation, a charge she denied.

“The loss of this leader at the age of 100 leaves a legacy to her people of the unyielding fight for the land, water, education for her sons and daughters,” the Kichwa Ecuarunari Confederation said.

The online daily Ecuadorinmediato noted that “because of her militant leftist ideology (Amanguaña) was persecuted for many years in the country and banned because of her way of thinking.” EFE

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