May 14, 2020 – More than 100 organizations from around the world have signed onto an open letter to show their support for the Shuar Arutam People (PSHA) in the Ecuadorian Amazon as they confront a possible COVID-19 outbreak in their territories.
The initiative responds to the PSHA’s urgent demands of the Ecuadorian government following the death of two people whose close relatives traveled to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) mining fair in Toronto, Canada in March, 2020. In March, the PSHA denounced the company for bringing seven Shuar community members to Toronto in supposed representation of the communities, despite not being duly elected representatives of the Shuar Arutam People’s Assembly. The PSHA condemned the delegation as part of efforts to undermine their categorical rejection of mining in their territory. Upon the delegation’s return to Ecuador, two of their immediate family members died with COVID-19-like symptoms. At least 8 other members of Shuar communities are also showing symptoms.
International organizations condemned Solaris Resources’ “ongoing interference in Shuar indigenous territory as well as its disdain for the self-determining decisions of the PSHA,” noting that “the actions of this company and its subsidiary in Ecuador (Lowell Minerals) constitute serious threats to peace and health in the Amazon region as a whole.”
Other mining companies from Canada, Australia and China also pose a threat to the communities’ ongoing struggle to protect health and the environment against resource extraction. The open letter observes that “Their activities are causing irreparable damage and putting the social fabric of Indigenous communities and mega-diverse Amazonian ecosystems at grave risk. The mere presence of company employees in the region, due to the possibility of coronavirus transmission, may exacerbate these impacts.”
The letter closes with an expression of solidarity to the PSHA and all Indigenous peoples in the Amazon whose territories are threatened by COVID-19 and resource extraction.
The President of the Shuar Arutam People’s assembly (PSHA), Josefina Tunki, remarks, “In the name of the Shuar Arutam peoples, we are grateful for the solidarity and support that organizations from around the globe have shown us. For the Shuar Peoples and other nationalities, this solidarity represents a greater defense for protection which helps us to better defend lives, and protect the water and the forest which are fundamental for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous world.”
Given the difficulties that the Shuar Arutam peoples are now facing, this morning the PSHA launched this crowdsourcing campaign to assist them to collect funds which will be dedicated to buying community sanitation packs and food stuffs for their communities. You can donate here.
Click here to see the full letter and organizations who signed on.