We appreciate the support of lluviacomunicación in the preparation of this article. The main image was taken from the assessment “Weaving Voices, Defending Life” coordinated by La Sandía Digital and WITNESS.
“I don’t need the oil company
I don’t need mining
I don’t need the multinational company.
I need water, I need jungle, I need animals, I need my territory”.
Young people from #TeatroShuar Yápankam
Nationalities, movements and communities that are defending the land and their territories from extractive megaprojects use a variety of tools. One of these tools is community communication.
In the field of communication, the companies behind extractive projects, as well as local and national governments, have developed tactics to advance their interests. In 2019, movements, organizations, alternative media and journalists that participated in learning communities as part of the assessment made by La Sandía Digital and WITNESS identified the following hegemonic narratives they needed to combat:
The arguments: well-being, development and progress. P 28 “Weaving voices, defending life”.
“I am not afraid of development, I am not afraid of anything. I choose my own future … Not in exchange for my body, not in exchange for my autonomy, not in exchange for my water. I want a future, I don’t want a nightmare. I want lives to exist on earth. Yes, there is another alternative- and I know it.” Presentation: I want a future! (by the Shuar Yapankam Theater)
These narratives of dispossession seek to introduce the extractivist projects, separate the communities, mask the devastation that the projects cause, and overshadow the nationalities, movements and communities in resistance. Given this, what are the objectives and intentions behind the communication actions carried out by movements in Mexico? This is how the people who participated in the diagnosis answered:
Inhabiting the territories, preventing threats and advocating to stop extractivist projects
From August to December 2020, Indigenous organizations in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in a collaborative alliance with communication groups, carried out an online training process. The objectives of this effort were (1) the transfer of communication tools to the communities themselves, (2) the autonomy of the peoples in terms of dissemination of content and communication media, and (3) the production of videos showcasing the struggles that these communities are leading in order to defend their territories and cultures.
Communicators from (FCUNAE) Federation of Communes Union of Natives of the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Shuar Arutam People, the A’I Cofán community, the Siekopai Nation and Sarayaku presented their videos during a public event that took place on December 9, 2020. Here you can see the multimedia productions they made:
Inhabiting the territories/Building memory: The video produced explains to the new generations the victory of the Sarayaku Case vs. the Government of Ecuador and the ruling issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, as well as the pending government actions.
Advocate/Video-evidence: The Siekopai Nation has fought for its ancestral Pë’ëkëya territory for years. In the territory where they currently live, extractive threats increasingly suffocate the life of Siekopai communities. Returning to their place of origin would allow them to maintain their identity and survive as a people.
Sinangoe Community Guard
Influence/Make known and dignify the struggles: In this video, the A’I Cofán community in Sinangoe talks about the work carried out by its Indigenous community guard to protect their life, territory, water and freedom.
Shuar Arutam people: Not a step back
Advocate/Call for solidarity: Communicators from the Shuar Arutam People interviewed women, girls and boys from the communities to express concerns of the impacts that mining activity is already having on their ancestral territory. And once again they reaffirm their decision: No to mining!
Oil stains are for life
Influence/Demand justice: FCUNAE communicators demand justice and for a hearing to be held ASAP (#AudienciaYa) due to the impact of the spill of 15,000 barrels of oil in the Napo and Coca River. This spill occurred on April 7, 2020, affecting more than 100 Kichwas communes #SOSDerrameAmazonía
The pandemic of extractivism
Many peoples in the Amazon have highlighted a direct relation between the extractive activity and the arrival of COVID19 in their territory. In the case of Brazil, at the beginning of the pandemic there was 150% mortality in Indigenous people compared to the average in the rest of the country’s population. Loggers, mining and oil company workers do not “work from home”– on the contrary, they could be carrying the virus deep into the Amazon rainforest.
The Shuar Arutam People (PSHA) has also denounced the involvement of the mining company Solaris and the PDAC 2020 in the beginning of the contagion of COVID-19 in the communities of the Cordillera del Cóndor. This was due to the irresponsible in-person gathering in March 2020 which was attended by 7 members of a Shuar community, without quarantine upon their return. 3 family members of the attendees died the following month and the pandemic spread in the Shuar communities.
Despite this, PSHA continues to strengthen communication in defense of the territory. PSHA opened the School of Communication, improving radio equipment and audiovisual production and weaving these efforts in collaboration with other organizations such as CONFENIAE with the participation of Andrés Tapia, Communication Leader, with their team of Digital Lancers in the trainings. In this way, more people continue to be involved in the production of radio, videos and other communication actions to voice the concerns of the community and to amplify locally, nationally and internationally the struggle of the Shuar Arutam People in the Cordillera del Cóndor.
“Since before the conquest, the Shuar world, the Shuar Nation we have inhabited the Amazon.” Josefina Tunki – Shuar Arutam Peoples’ President
While the PDAC 2020 convention is taking place in Canada, Josefina Tunki, president of PSHA, denounces threats from the mining company Solaris in the video MUJER VALIENTE of PSHA and lluviacomunicación.
Shuar Theater For Life on Earth. We share this call from the video I want a future! from the Yapankam Cultural Group and lluviacomunicación:
“Today from the Ecuadorian Amazon, we want to ask the world to stop mining and oil exploitation, which has caused the climate problem. We as Indigenous peoples and nationalities are not going to allow the entry of mining and oil transnational companies to contaminate our territory. For this reason, we call on all men and women in the world, businessmen, those who manufacture weapons … Please stop! ” Manuel Maich – Yápankam Cultural Group