Cultural Survival’s Keepers of the Earth Fund grant partners, the A’i Cofán de Dureno community in Ecuador, have been mobilizing to defend their ancestral lands against oil exploitation by the national oil company Petroecuador for six months. On January 10, 2023, Petroecuador employees tried to enter A’i Cofán territory to continue constructing a road to facilitate oil development. On January 12, armed forces arrived in the zone to back attacks by oil company employees against community members participating in the resistance camp. The number of wounded and dead are yet to be confirmed but several have been injured with at least one unconfirmed death reported. The community has remained firm in their decision to reject oil exploitation in their territory. The government has the responsibility to protect the community, not defend the company’s interests and violence.
The A’i Cofán de Dureno community is a community of about 750 inhabitants who hold title to 9,571 hectares of primary forest. Within it is conservation territory managed by the community through an agreement signed with the federal program Socio Bosque, which seeks to conserve native ecosystems via collaborations with Indigenous and campesino communities.
Petroecuador, via the Taiwanese company CSBC, is seeking to dig 30 oil wells through three platforms within the Cofán territory, which is home to one of the only remaining areas of dense and intact forest in the region.
Cultural Survival joins in solidarity with the community and demands an immediate stop to the violence that the State of Ecuador is inflicting on the community through the arrival of the armed forces to support the oil company. Ecuador is a party to the ILO Convention 169 since 1998 and voted for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and therefore is obligated to respect, protect and and fulfill the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We demand safety for the community and respect for the community’s right to self-determination regarding their territories!
Read more information on the situation.