The Waorani people of Pastaza are an indigenous tribe from the Ecuadorian Amazon and have lived in the Rainforest for generation on generation. Although the Amazon fires currently burning away are in Paraguay, thousands of miles away from Ecuador, many are linking a burgeoning trend that may well end up in more forestry being destroyed across the nine countries that the Amazon spans. According to Reuters, the tribe had been battling an on-going court case concerning the selling of sacred Amazonian lands to oil companies. The lands were originally auctioned off and approved to do so by the Ecuadorian government, much to the dismay of the indigenous tribe.
A court decision ruled that the 2,000 strong tribe had not been properly consulted before the lands were sold off.
The government appealed the decision, but ultimately lost when the three-judge panel of the Pastas provincial Court upheld the ruling that the tribe had not been properly consulted, ending the years-long legal battle over the land.
The decision, made in July, saw half a million acres of ancestral land protected from being mined for oil drilling by oil corporations.
The victory set a precedent for the protection of the Amazon Rainforest, yet, many are arguing that the fires that have been burning for more than two weeks are the beginning of something more sinister.
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The speculation comes as no surprise following a string of aggressive political moves from Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro.
The far-right leader has repeatedly said he would reclaim the Amazon Rainforest from “interfering” NGOs, and offer indigenous tribes incentives to give up the land for what he calls a “better life”.
The new fires come weeks after Mr Bolsonaro sacked the head of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) following their damming report on a record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest this year.
The sacking follows a reshuffling of the environmental department of Brazil’s government.
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On his first day in power, Mr Bolsonaro shifted decision making power regarding indigenous reserves from the National Indian Foundation to the Ministry of Agriculture.
He then gave Luiz Antonio Nabham Garcia – a man that has said indigenous lands need to be seriously re-evaluated and reclaimed – the power to determine the indigenous people’s future, appointing him special secretary for land affairs at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The series events fail to sit well for many, and have led to the Inpe report that revealed forest fires to have increased 84percent on the same period in 2018.
Forest fires in the Amazon are mostly started deliberately in an attempt to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching and other agricultural ventures.