This is an action alert from “Maloca,” one of Village Earth’s newest affiliates! Penti Baihua, Huaorani leader of Bameno, has been leading efforts of Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (We Defend Our Huaorani Territory), a grassroots alliance of Huaorani communities, to defend their rainforest environment (territory), culture and human rights. Until first contact with the outside world around 1970, the Huaorani in Penti’s region (Yasuni National Park) defended their territory with hardwood spears. But now, as Penti says, they must find new ways of fighting, by “speaking Spanish, using law, and travelling far away like the harpy eagle.” The Ome alliance is organizing a Working Meeting which has as goal to call on the Huaorani people and other communities in Yasuni National Park in Ecuador to defend the area and their rights. Penti first proposed the gathering after hearing rumors about plans for new oil operations (in the area now known as Yasuni).
Ome’s agenda for the meeting states: “We are going to talk about…[the Huaorani organizations] and our Huaorani territory Omeand rights, in order to know the reality that is happening in this territory, what projects and programs are being done from the outside, what we want as Huaorani, who is concerned, where we can conserve the forest, and who agrees to commit to defend Omeand the Huaorani families who live in isolation in the forest.” As Penti explained, “something of this territory must remain for the Huaorani, where we can live in peace as Huaorani.”
Ome invited Judith Kimerling, an Environmental Law Professor and long time environmental and indigenous rights activist, to the gathering. Judith has been nominated by Village Earth for the 2011 Maury Albertson Medal for Excellence in Sustainable Development. When she told Penti and other community leaders about the medal, they decided to schedule their working meeting (“reunion de trabajo extraordinario”) before Judith goes to Colorado to accept the medal and work with Village Earth to build support for Penti and Ome. That way, she can help the Omecommunities follow up on the gathering, and carry their message to a new community of supporters. Penti and other community leaders want as many Huaorani as possible to participate in the gathering, but Bameno is not easy to reach (from most other communities) and mobilization is expensive. This is why Penti and Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani are seeking $2,500 in funding in order to bring as many Huaorani community members as possible to the gathering, and to buy some food (most of the food will be provided by community members in Bameno). Village Earth have established a restricted account for Maloca where people can donate in support of the Huaorani’s working meeting. Click here to donate!