To my Shuar brothers and sisters, to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and Andes, to the men and women of Ecuador and the World.
As many of you know,recent days have been very dangerous for our people. These days have not yet ended and are, indeed, probably only the beginning of a great territorial dispute initiated by the National Government against the Shuar Arutam People.
Before dawn on Dec. 21, 2016, dozens of police raided the headquarters of the Shuar Federation (FISCH) in the Ecuadorian Amazon and arbitrarily detained its president, Agustin Wachapá. The indigenous leader was thrown to the ground and repeatedly stamped on and ridiculed beneath the boots of police in front of his wife. The police then razed the Shuar Federation’s office—turning over furniture and carrying away computers. According to the indigenous leader’s wife, her husband was taken away without any kind of explanation. An arrest warrant for Wachapá was never presented.
Indigenous battles to defend nature have taken to the streets, leading to powerful mobilizations like the gathering at Standing Rock. They have also taken to the courts, through the development of innovative legal ways of protecting nature. In Ecuador, Bolivia and New Zealand, indigenous activism has helped spur the creation of a novel legal phenomenon—the idea that nature itself can have rights.