Amazonian women feel that they are the last hope

Transnational corporations are tightening their squeeze, but the women of the Amazanga community of Pastaza refuse to succumb to temptation or threats and demand that their ancient voice be heard and their traditional wisdom not be forgotten. As the men fall into the trap of corporate deceit, they close all means of expression and communication to these visionary women. While their husbands and fathers refuse to listen, the women of Amazonia clearly stated that they are committed to the preservation of our "continent of life." Since the First Congress of Women of the Amazon last Sept., 24-27 1996, in Union Base Pastaza, Ecuador, a bad situation has deteriorated into near hopelessness. Through the Panshpanshu Biological Reserve, Atlantic Richfield Oil Co. has begun construction of a pipeline. Not only does this endanger the reserve, but the Villano river valley and the entire watershed of the Curaray river as well. If this is allowed to continue the natural indigenous ways of life of these traditional Shuar peoples, a small community of Quichua, and their vital ecosystem will surely face eminent destruction. Once happy and free in their beloved rain-forests, these women are faced with the grim choice of trying to raise their children on petroleum contaminated, clear cut 'dead zones' or migrating to the cities. While the Shuar peoples search for legal assistance to help protect the Pashpanshu Biological Reserve, they also begin the process of caring for the sacred lagoons of LLushino and recovering stolen lands from colonial encroachment. Against insurmountable odds, these brave women are organizing. Providing bi-cultural and bi-lingual education, the Jeri-Juri Indigenous Children's Boarding School is actively teaching and preserving traditional knowledge and natural ways of life for future generations. They have also created a Natural Indigenous University, Univeridad Natural Indigena. Here, foreign students are allowed to explore direct experience natural living and health restoration traditions.

Information from: Christina Gualinga, Coordinadora Regional de Mujeres, Casilla 10-16-704 Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador
or 3330 North Shore Circle Tallahassee, Florida 32312