Guardians of life: The indigenous women fighting oil exploitation in the Amazon

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On Oct. 12, 2013, a group of nearly 300 women from seven indigenous nationalitiesmarched to Quito, Ecuador, arriving in the capital four days later with theirchildren in their arms, the sharp angles of their faces — young and old — decoratedwith vegetable ink designs, covered in the same strength and determination with which they began their journey. They were marching to Quito to ask the central government to respect their ancestral lands, to refrain from exploiting the oil that lies beneath his Kawsak Sacha, a living jungle. In November of that same year, a smaller delegation of women peacefully protested during the 11th Oil Licensing Round, an auction of 6 million acres of ancestral indigenous land for oil exploitation. The protests, however, turned sour when oil executive and politicians scolded protesters, and Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa subsequently demanded the closing of the NGO Fundación Pachamama and indicted 10 indigenous leaders on charges of terrorism.

While women have always played an active role in historic marches that marked the struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples in Ecuadorthis was the first walkorganized and led by women.

Felipe Jacome’s set of photos AmazonGuardians of Life documents the strugglesof indigenous women defending the Ecuadoran Amazon through portraitscombined with the powerful written testimonies. The words across each photograph are a self-reflection of the lives of women, their culture, history and traditions, and especially about the reasons for fighting oil drilling on their ancestral landsThe color designs framing each portrait use the same natural dyes found in face paint to expand on the symbols and designs that reflect theirpersonalities, courage and struggle.

All photos by Felipe Jacome Read More

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