Nemonte Nenquimo, Waorani leader, is among the 100 most influential figures of 2020 for his environmental fight
The Waorani people celebrate this Tuesday, September 22, 2020, the recognition of Nemonte Nenquimo, president of the Coordination Council of the Waorani Nationality of Pastaza ( Conconawep ), as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. The struggle of the indigenous leader for the defense of the jungle against extractivism was recognized by Time magazine .
Nemonte, raised in the Nemonpare community , co-founded, in 2015, Alianza Ceibo , an indigenous non-profit organization whose basic objective is to protect indigenous livelihoods. In 2018, Nemonte and the Waorani organization he leads won a historic legal victory against the Ecuadorian state , protecting nearly half a million acres of rainforest and setting a precedent in indigenous rights for the region.
“The landmark ruling protects the ancestral home of the Waorani in Ecuador from immediate destruction. This has brought hope to indigenous communities around the world, who are facing overwhelming difficulties, ”says the US magazine, in its digital version.
Nenquimo’s name was announced by Time magazine at 9:01 p.m. on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 with an introduction by the actor and environmentalist Leonardo Di Caprio who noted: “Nemonte lives her struggle and talking with her is witnessing a rare clarity of purpose. I remember he once told me that he would not give up. That she was going to keep fighting. That he would continue to defend the forest that he loves from the industries and oil companies that would devour it. She has kept her word and continues to be a voice and advocate for her community. The cause of Nemonte is our cause. She inspires those she talks to to pick up the nearest rock and walk alongside her as her movement continues to grow. I am lucky to have met her, and I am even more fortunate to have learned from her ”.
Currently, the work of Nemonte and the organizations is focused on a double point: the threat of covid-19 and the ecological crisis in the Amazon. The inhabitants of this region are aware that the territory is a fundamental element in the isolation of this disease.
In a statement, the Waorani people received this recognition as a collective triumph. “The honor is for the struggle of all the Amazonian indigenous peoples in defense of our rights, our territories and our global climate.” They also affirm that their struggle is being heard throughout the world, and that “Western civilization is awakening and understanding the importance of listening to and respecting indigenous peoples.”
As every year since 1999, the American magazine Time publishes a special edition dedicated to the 100 most influential people in the world.
The profiles selected in 2020 are divided into five categories: pioneers, artists, leaders, icons, and titans.
This year, specialists such as Anthony Fauci , the greatest expert on infectious diseases in the United States, stand out. He made a name for himself in the US in the 1980s, when he pioneered AIDS research.
In the category of leaders, the magazine chose the president of the United States, Donald Trump ; the President of China, Xi Jinping; the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel ; to the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro .
In the list of world characters, the leader Waorani Nemonte Nenquimo stands out . For Ecuador , it is the second time that the initiatives and leadership of a woman have reached a global impact . The first time the award was achieved by Cristina Jiménez (2018), in this same publication, for her work in favor of immigrants .
Time magazine reported Tuesday that 54 of the 100 characters on the list are women .
Here is the entire statement from the Waorani people:
We of the Waorani nationality make this statement to share our joy and pride with the news that our comrade in struggle, Nemonte Nenquimo, president of our Waorani de Pastaza organization, CONCONAWEP, has been selected by the prestigious American magazine TIME as one of the 100 most important people in the world in the year 2020.
Our partner is receiving this honor for her leadership in the defense of our Territory against the immense threat of extractivism to our jungle, our rivers and our way of life. In 2019, as the Waorani people we won a great victory, protecting more than 180,000 hectares of our ancestral Territory from oil companies. With this triumph, we made our rights to self-governance and self-determination over our Territory and our lives.
Our cry from the jungle – “Monito Ome Goronte Enamai!” (Our Territory is not for sale!) – was heard around the world, inspiring our indigenous brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity with our struggle, and also inspiring national and global civil society. Our legal victory in defense of life also set an important precedent, affirming that we, the Indigenous Peoples, do have the right to decide what happens in our Territory; and when we say that “our Territory is not for sale”, the government and companies must respect us.
As Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador and throughout the Amazon, we know that the governments of the day and the large extractive companies are only interested in the exploitation of our resources, and, thus, they try to trample our rights at every step. The #Waorani Resistance has shown the Ecuadorian government and extractive industries that Indigenous Peoples cannot be divided, they cannot continue to deceive us.
With the wisdom of our ancestors and our elders Pikenani and the courage of our women and youth, we are united in the fight for life. We are not only going to fight with spears, we will also do it with organization, union between peoples, autonomy and good governance, our own education, our own health, community economies. And when they come to threaten us, we will fight with good legal strategies, which guarantee our rights; with new technologies, which allow us to map and monitor our Territory; and, surely, also with our strong allies in national and international civil society.
Throughout the Amazon, our Territories and indigenous cultures are under serious threats from the governments of the day, extractive industries and invaders; therefore, we receive this news from TIME 100 magazine as an important recognition that our struggle is being heard around the world, and that Western civilization is awakening and understanding the importance of listening to and respecting Indigenous Peoples. We are connected with our origins, with the spirits of our Territories. We have the courage, knowledge, and courage to defend mother earth with our lives. It is time for governments and companies to listen to us and respect us.
For centuries, our Waorani people have been recognized as a warrior and defender of the jungle. Since the times of the Inca, the Spanish conquerors and the rubber tappers, the Waorani clans have always walked, guarding and protecting the Territory from Napo to Curaray. It is because of them that this jungle is still full of life, with clean water and pure air, abundant fish and animals, good land to plant, fruit trees and all kinds of medicines. We are proud to be able to enjoy and raise our families within a large and healthy Territory, which gives life to us and to the whole world.
We were “contacted” only 70 years ago by American evangelical missionaries; Since then, we have had to face new diseases, brutal cultural changes, the invasion of oil tankers, the pollution of our rivers, illegal logging, illegal fishing and hunting and all kinds of abuses. Our history of struggle has also been one of much pain and suffering, but, like Waorani, we will always be on the fight, happy.
Now, we, the Indigenous Peoples, are seeing that if we let the Western world continue on its path of extraction and consumerism, we will all be left without territory, without water, without air, without food, without health, without joy, without life. . This is the future, this is the climate change they always talk about. So, as young leaders, with all the strength and wisdom of our older Pikenani, we are going to build our autonomy in our Territories. We will continue to protect our jungle so that there are always fish in the river, animals in the mountains, so that future generations know how to heal themselves with medicinal plants, how to speak their own language and also so that they discover how to defend themselves against the threats that come from outside.
The TIME 100 recognition for our colleague Nemonte Nenquimo and for all of our people is a great honor that we receive with humility and a great warrior spirit! We know that in the Western world everything is based on individualism (that is why they give recognition to individuals), but for us there is no struggle, no health, no joy, no future without the family, without the people and without our jungle. So, together with our colleague Nemonte Nenquimo and our governing councils of NAWE, AMWAE and CONCONAWEP, we dedicate this recognition to our ancestors, who died defending life; to our elders (“Pikenani”), who motivated the struggle in recent times and continue to guide us; women fighters, who are always at the forefront; to young people, who must learn the way of territorial defense;and the babies, who are still in a hammock, but who will soon be the heirs of this jungle.
We also feel that this recognition is for all Amazonian Indigenous Peoples and for those who are fighting against contempt, dispossession, racism, violence, extractivism and colonialism throughout the world. From the bowels of the Ecuadorian jungle, we send our solidarity to all of you. The fight is the way, companions and companions.