The Sápara nationality, together with other organisations, requested an action for protection from the Ecuadorian state to return 70% of the expropriated territory.

On 31 August 2021, the Sápara nationality located in the province of Pastaza filed an action for protection against the Ecuadorian State at the Judicial Unit of the Judiciary Council for the return of 70% of their territory expropriated without permission.

Their territory is in constant danger from attempted oil and mining extraction. Thus, they have resisted the entry of the Chinese company Andes Petroleum, which was granted a concession by the Ecuadorian State without consulting the community. This event was the beginning of a series of violations of their territory by this company and state institutions. With the resistance of the entire nationality, they managed to get the oil company to leave their territory. This has caused the institutions interested in oil extraction to create various mechanisms for entry. One of them has been the creation of a fictitious organisation that does not belong to the nationality.

Their territory has been handed over to the Naruca association, as they claim to be recognised by the nationality, explains Mariano Gualinga Ushigua, education leader of the Sápara nationality. However, the settlers say that the members are not from their territory and that their organisation is NASA, made up of 23 communities. The aim of the association that received the territory is oil exploitation.

For these reasons they have decided to request an action for protection, which was delivered to the Judicial Unit of the Judiciary Council by the president of the Sapara community, Nema Grefa, who was accompanied by an official from the Ombudsman’s Office, the entity that is providing legal advice.

Their petition is part of their resistance to the destruction and the search for protection of their lands. The formal presentation has been made with the accompaniment of their entire community and different organisations that have mobilised massively against the expropriation.

Javier Viteri, a community volunteer, comments that the Sápara nationality “has ownership of approximately 400,000 hectares”. He also assures that the title deeds to these lands were awarded in 1992 by the president of the time, Rodrigo Borja.

The Naruca organisation was created during the government of Rafael Correa, according to Abdala Yaku Calapucha, vice-president of the Association of Indigenous Communities of Arajuno. This organisation has been activated and will continue to function, according to the villagers. Taking into account the executive decree of 7 July 2021 signed by Guillermo Lasso, which establishes an action plan for oil development, this resource will continue to be exploited.

For the communicator of the Pachamama Foundation, Benito Bonilla, the Amazon is a territory divided into oil blocks. According to him, all governments since 1992 have bid for these blocks, using different names for the rounds of awarding them. Exploitation has not been possible in all the territories due to infrastructure problems such as roads or the population’s refusal to accept this.

In 2012, the price of crude oil began to rise and the bidding for the south-east round was offered to the Chinese company Andes Petroleum, who made an offer. This was carried out without prior consultation with the nationalities. Several communities in the Amazon region mobilised against this. At the time, they denounced the various violations they had suffered. They have done this in a sustained manner on the basis of the recognition by UNESCO since 2001 as Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Due to the situation they are currently experiencing, their president, Nema, hopes that the State will accept the protection action and that their territories will be returned to them. Otherwise, they will fight from international bodies. The expropriation of these territories endangers the future of their families and the maintenance of the community.