WHAT IS CONFENIAE?

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) is the regional organization of indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Eleven indigenous peoples present in the region — Kichwa, Shuar, Achuar, Shiwiar, Waorani, Siona, Secoya, Sapara, Cofán, Andoa, Quijos and nearly 1500 communities — are represented politically by the Confederation. CONFENIAE is one of three major regional groupings that constitute the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). The current president of CONFENIAE is Marlon Vargas of the Achuar People.

With representatives of the peoples and nationalities of the Amazon, the CONFENIAE seeks to improve their quality of life by strengthening the affiliated organizations, boosting community development programs, community environmental protection and natural resources management.

The new challenges in the Amazon by the expansion of oil and logging, mining, agrobusiness, IIRSA, has made the fight for legalization and defense of the ancestral lands of the peoples and nationalities our first priority. This has led to rethink the traditional forms of organization and take legal forms to a more effective defense of the rights of Amazonian peoples against the extractive model promoted by the State.

CONFENIAE’s premise is to set goals and strategies addressing indigenous peoples new challenges.

CONFENIAE GOVERNMENT COUNCIL

President: Marlon Vargas
Vice President: Lourdes Jipa
Youth Leader: Tom Sharupi
Director of Communications: Andrés Tapia
Director of Health: Yulisa Ahua
Director of Women's Affairs: Elvia Dahua
Director of Education: Felipe Ushigua
Director of Economy: Gonzalo Katan
Director of Indigenous Territories: Tuntiak Katan

THE ISSUES

The demand set of the indigenous groups is focused on policies related to indigenous rights and territory, and the concentration of state control over what used to be community managed resources and education.

Resource Extraction

Indigenous groups reject new oil drilling plans and expansion of oil concessions into the indigenous territories of southern Ecuadorian Amazon, as well as large-scale open pit mining in the highlands.

Criminalization of Protest

During the Correa administration, there has been a major crack down on political dissent, free speech, and the right to protest. Indigenous leaders opposing government projects and policies have been targeted and charged for instigation, terrorism, and sabotage for participating in or organizing protests, a right guaranteed in Article 98 of the Constitution.

Water and Land Laws

The approval of the Ley de Aguas in 2014 sparked protests at the time of its passage, and continues to be polemic. The law takes away control of local water sources from community committees to the state water agency. While not outright nationalization, the government is seeking unfettered access to key water reserves to facilitate new large-scale mining and the expansion of agro-industrial sector in Ecuador's southern Andes region. The Ley de Tierra similarly supersedes previous community based control and management of communal lands, erodes concepts of ancestral territory, and places regulatory control in the Ministry of Agriculture, threatening non-agrarian indigenous land use.

Bilingual Education

The government abolished the Ministry of Bilingual Education, shuttering many schools and limiting access to community level bilingual education. Under government control, existing school curriculum has been politicized and inadequately representative of indigenous vision and philosophy. Indigenous people seek to recover autonomy of the bilingual school system.

CONFENIAE RESISTS

Incursion into CONFENIAE headquarters: An attack on our home

Since the Spanish conquest and the colonizing interventions of Christian missionaries, settlers seeking gold, arable land, mines and oil, and the economic interests of the government, have all served as serious threats to the Ecuadorian Amazon and the cultural and physical survival of the indigenous communities there.

Due to the lack of understanding and respect from whatever government has been in office and the constant trampling of our rights and our lands, indigenous communities decided to take our own future in our hands and in 1980 created the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, CONFENIAE, in order to confront these invasions and abuses.

In 1982 was the historic indigenous march that began at CONFENIAE headquarters in the town of Union Base all the way to the capital, Quito. Thousand of men and women, the elderly, children and mothers with babies in their arms left the forest to meet in Union Base to march, and though had to endure the cold of the mountains danced and sang all the way to the capital to demand territorial rights.

Since then CONFENIAE has come to represent eleven different indigenous nationalities and has been our organizing home in the Amazon. It demonstrates the enormous struggle that our parents and grandparents have fought, served as the starting point for the great march, and is where we have sowed the seeds of unity and the new indigenous resistance against natural resource extraction on our lands, like oil and mining. It is our home, where we unite to strengthen our struggles, where we share joy, knowledge, customs and where we present our demands to our leaders.

On the morning of September 28th, our house underwent the intrusion of hundreds of police who sought to displace the men, women and children asleep at CONFENIAE headquarters after a community work day. The police intended to infiltrate corrupt people into the organization in order to divide and harm our organization in order to pave the way for the latest government’s resource extraction policies.

We have set procedures and norms by which we elect our representative and legitimate leaders. This intrusion demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the place we call home, and an even more serious lack of recognition of the legacy of struggle by our parents and grandparents for the earth and for our future. What happened at the CONFENIAE headquarters on September 28th is a reflection of what is happening all over the Ecuadorian Amazon and is an attack not just against CONFENIAE but against the 1,500 communities it represents. For us, resource extraction and oil drilling is death, and the Ecuadorian government is killing that which is most necessary for life and survival of the entire planet, using economic arguments as justification.

We are children of the forest and we have learned to respect her, to respect every being, every form of life that expresses itself within her and we feel the pain of our Mother Earth. As children of the forest we have learned to be guided by the symbols of nature and follow the path toward a future that guarantees life for our Amazon peoples. CONFENIAE headquarters will continue to be our house, our home and the place where we join our dreams and visions for the future.

We say no to extraction activities in our territories and we call on our brothers and sisters, friends and allies to join us in solidarity for the defense of our forest and the world. Long live CONFENIAE!

HOW TO SUPPORT

Donate via PayPal

Contacts for Donations and Support

Puyo:
Andres Tapia 0984465175 Dirigente de Comunicacion
Elvia Dahua 0998296744 Dirigenta de la Mujer
Lourdes Jipa 0984011697 Vicepresidenta
Zoila Castillo 0999096065 Parlamento Indigena

Quito:
Wilson Ordoñez 0984239705

Points of Donations

Quito: CONAIE Headquarters
Granados y 6 de Diciebre, Quito

Puyo:
CONFENIAE Headquarters
Unión Base 16-01-800, Puyo - Pastaza

Immediate Needs

Cookware
Shovels (tools for minga)
Mattresses and blankets
Electric extension cables
Help with internet installation
Cleaning supplies

Needs for improvement and reconstruction of the CONFENIAE headquarters

Wooden beams and boards
Dump trucks of sand and stones
Electricity installation material