An indigenous community of about 400 villagers is preparing to resist the Ecuadorean army and one of the biggest oil companies in South America. The Kichwa tribe on Sani Isla say they are ready to fight to the death to protect their territory, which covers 70,000 hectares of pristine rainforest, adjacent to and part of Yasuni National Park. The region is one of the most biodiverse on Earth, and the large intact ecosystems power local and global sustainability. The Ecuador government has received much acclaim for plans to protect biodiversity rich Yasuni from oil development in exchange for compensation payments. Yet much of the rest of the nation's rainforests remain threatened by oil development, including a new round of leases, and indigenous peoples continue to lose control of their rainforest homes.
Petroamazonas – the state-backed oil company – has told the Kichwa it will soon begin prospecting, backed by public security forces, paying only $40 per hectare. Residents of Sani Isla have built up an arsenal of weapons – spears, blowpipes, machetes, guns, sticks and stones – to fend off Petroamazonas, in a confrontation which has been delayed but not yet won. Community leaders have stated "we have decided to fight to the end. Each landholder will defend their territory. We will help each other and stand shoulder to shoulder to prevent anyone from passing… We will not start conflict, but we will try to block them and then what happens will happen." Community members are appealing for outside help protesting the oil invasion, assistance in their legal battle, and in efforts to find long-term economic alternative to fossil fuels.
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Rainforests and oil don't mix
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