by Rick Kearns / Indian Country Today
After attacking and shutting down an oil field in Ecuador in early January, most of the Waorani warriors who were arrested for the attack will be tried soon for sabotage and paralysis of public services according to various reports.
On January 7, seven Waorani warriors invaded the Petrobell oil field in the Amazonian province of Pastaza, causing enough damage to shut down 11 oil wells operating at the facility. Ecuadorean military were called to the scene and six soldiers were wounded in the clash with the warriors who were armed with blowguns, shotguns, pistols and spears.
Six of the seven Waorani men were ordered by Judge Alvaro Guerrero to be imprisoned on January 8, and a seventh man was allowed to remain free with certain restrictions based on his advanced age.
Leaders from the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador (known as NAWE in Spanish) held negotiations with Ecuadorean officials on January 9 in Puyo, the capital of Pastanza and near the site of the attack. Government delegates from the Ministry of Justice, Strategic Ecuador, Provincial Government of Pastaza and the Ministry of Non-renewable Natural Resources attended the gathering.
The position of NAWE at the meeting with officials was that they would offer the government a guarantee that the Waorani would no longer attack or provoke incidents at oil facilities if the warriors were released and not charged said NAWA President Moi Enomenga (who is known internationally due to his winning a 2011 National Geographic Buffett Award for Leadership in Conservation).
Enomenga asserted that government officials agreed with the terms of the NAWA proposal but that further talks had to occur with other provincial officials.
According to human rights activist and director of CDES, an indigenous rights NGO in Ecuado, Eduardo Pichilingue, this is not the first time Waorani people have attacked oil facilities in the area.
Pichilingue said that first Texaco and then other oil companies would provide money, food rations and housing to indigenous communities in exchange for protecting the zone but that these arrangements did not prevent attacks. He noted that in 2011 and 2012 indigenous warriors attacked the facilities and that in 2012 they blocked access to one of Petrobel’s wells.
As of January 20, Waorani leader Moipa Nihua announced on social media that two of the six imprisoned warriors were found not guilty of the charges.