Contacts:
Manari Ushigua, President, Sapara Nation, Cell: 516 205 3291 (Spanish/English)
Gloria Ushigua, President, Sapara Women’s Association Ashiñwaka, Cell: 516 205 3291 (Spanish/English)

May 1, 2017 (New York) – After marching with Leonardo DiCaprio in the Peoples’ Climate March on Saturday in Washington DC, Amazonian leaders headed to the United Nations today to denounce that the Chinese oil company Andes Petroleum will cause genocide against the Sapara Nation and uncontacted indigenous peoples if it drills in their ancestral territory in the Ecuadorian rainforest.

“Andes Petroleum is posed to commit genocide against the Sapara People and the uncontacted peoples who are our neighbors.” declared Manari Ushigua, President of the Sapara Nation. “Andes Petroleum must cancel the contract immediately and Ecuador must desist from any other form of resources extraction because it threatens our survival.”

“Andes Petroleum will have the blood of my people on their hands if it does not stay out of my sacred rainforest,” said Gloria Ushigua, President of the Sapara Women’s Association Ashiñwaka. Ms. Ushigua has received so many death threats for defending the Amazon from oil drilling that she recently threw away her cell phone.

The culture of the approximately 565 members of the Sapara Nation was recognized by UNESCO as Heritage of Humanity in 2001, and by international and national law Ecuador is supposed to take special measures to protect the Sapara. However, in January of 2016, Ecuador signed contracts with Andes Petroleum, a consortium of the Chinese companies National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec), for oil exploration and exploitation in Blocks 79 and 83, which cover almost the entirety of Sapara territory, one of the most biodiverse places in the world.

“Our prophecies foretold that the day would come when foreigners would try to invade our territory and we would have to resist or be wiped out,” explained Manari Ushigua, a shaman as well as a leader. “If the Chinese oil company Andes Petroleum drills on Sapara land, two great spirits will clash: the Chinese dragon and our Piatsaw. We must succeed in keeping the oil in the ground, and help people learn how to heal Mother Earth.”

The Sapara’s concerns are not unfounded. Oil exploitation and pollution have already caused genocide in Ecuador. Texaco’s operations in Ecuador’s Northern Amazon caused grave destruction of the environment and the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. According to Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, in Chevron and Cultural Genocide, “Two nomadic groups that once inhabited the region, the Tetetes and Sansahuari, have been wiped out.”

“The United Nations was created to avoid wars and genocide. We hope the UN acts fast to avoid the disappearance of our People and our uncontacted neighbors. The UN needs to do its job,” emphasized Mr. Ushigua. “Many international and national laws are being violated including the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, Convention 169, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

A peaceful vigil was held outside the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations this morning at 9:30am after which the Sapara leaders delivered a letter to the Chinese Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi demanding that Andes Petroleum cancel the contract to explore and drill oil in Sapara territory immediately.

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May 1, 2017
New York

Ambassador Liu Jieyi
Permanente Representative of the Peoples’ Republic of China to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of Peoples’ Republic of China to the United Nations
350 East 35th Street
New York, New York 10016

Your Excellency,

We, the Sapara Nation of the Amazon of Ecuador, write you to request that Andes Petroleum, a consortium of Chinese oil companies, avoid committing genocide against the Sapara Nation and Indigenous Peoples in Isolation by immediately and definitively canceling the contracts with the government of Ecuador to explore and exploit oil in Block 79 and 83, in our ancestral territory. Our survival depends on the health of our rainforest, rivers, mountains and biodiversity, where our spirits are born, and which, much like the mythical Chinese dragon, are the link with our ancestors and Mother Earth.

The territory of the Sapara Nation is located in the province of Pastaza, quenched by the Conambo, Pindoyacu, Jandiayacu, Corrientes and Tigre Rivers, where 560 of us inhabit in 25 communities. In our mountains, the spirits of our ancestors reside and take care of the animals, trees, lagoons and waterfalls, which in turn are the interlocutors of our dreams. We share our territory with several Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation including the Taromenane and the Tageari.

Unfortunately, in 2011, our sacred territory was partitioned and cut up into oil blocks by the government of Ecuador. Concessions to these blocks were granted during the South Eastern Round, and in February of 2014, the offer for the exploitation of Block 79 and 83 presented by Andes Petroleum [a consortium of National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec)] was accepted, and two contracts for the exploration and exploitation were signed on January 25, 2016, condemning our home to imminent destruction.

In the course of this process, we never granted our free, prior and informed consent, as is stipulated by the Ecuadorian Constitution, international instruments on human rights or the UN Guiding Principles of the Business and Human Rights, even though this project will gravely hurt our integrity and existence as a nation, including the existence of our language, which was declared by UNESCO as oral and intangible heritage of humanity in 2001.

We have personally witnessed the environmental, social and cultural devastation caused by oil companies in the Amazon of our country, which is why we oppose the extraction of resources from our territories by exercising our constitutional right to resist in the form of resolutions, national campaigns and several letters to the Chinese Ambassador in Ecuador, to which we have not received any reply.

For all these reasons, we request that China commit to protecting the millenary cultures of indigenous peoples, ensure that the state oil company Andes Petroleum not enter our territory. We also demand that the Chinese government comply with the international framework on indigenous peoples’ rights and that its foreign investments comply with the Chinese Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains; Guidelines for Social Responsibility in Outbound Mining Investments; and Guidelines on Environmental Protection in Overseas Investment and Cooperation.

Sincerely,

Manari Ushigua President of the Sapara Nation of Ecuador Gloria Ushigua President of the Sapara Women’s Association of Ecuador (ASHIÑWAKA)

cc- UN Secretary-General António Guterres
cc- Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova
cc- Special Adviser of the United Nations on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng
cc- Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz