Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Healing & Help for Indigenous Women Leaders in the Amazon

Send healing to Gloria Ushigua & Rosa Gualinga, Indigenous Women
Leaders in the Amazon

Healing Circle: Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Andras Corban Arthen who sent the following report to me is a long time
friend of mine as well as a colleague in international and interfaith

Usually the Circle staff only sends short healing messages out as part
of this Healing Circle list --- however, in order to help with networking
and to encourage the drafting of letters of support for this urgent
situation involving Gloria & Rosa, we are including both Andras' introductory
email as well as the report he received from a contact who works with the Zapara
and who has just departed for South America to help with this situation.

* Please remember Gloria and Rosa, their peoples, and their lands in
your meditations, prayers, rituals, and other spiritual workings.
* Please send emails to the authorities listed below.
* Please help with networking efforts by forwarding this email or a
summary of it to those you know who may be willing to help.


Selena Fox
High Priestess, Circle Sanctuary
(608) 924-2216

Dear friends,

I apologize in advance for any multiple posts you may receive on this
subject. I'm forwarding you a very distressing news report and urge
you to take prompt action by writing to the addresses listed below. Of the two
women mentioned in this article, I personally know and have worked with
Gloria Ushigua, the Zápara leader; I've found her to be a strong,
wise, sincere, deeply-committed, and thoroughly delightful person. Gloria is
the daughter of César Ushigua, the last Zápara shimano (shaman) from
Ecuador, who died a few years ago. She was taught by her father, and is now
completing her training with the last remaining Zápara shaman from

Gloria Ushigua has dedicated her life to work on behalf of her people,
a tiny tribe comprising just a few hundred members who live in isolated
villages in the jungles of Ecuador. The Zápara were long thought to be
extinct, until a few of them were sent to make contact with the outside
world in the hope of securing help so that their families could
survive. As a result, the government of Ecuador granted them ownership of their
tribal lands, though to the Zápara, the idea that humans could "own" the
Earth makes no sense. Despite that attitude, they now find themselves in the
difficult position of struggling to retain that ownership as the only
way to protect those lands from the multinational petrochemical corporations
that want to raze the forest in order to dig wells, and the pharmaceutical
conglomerates seeking to gain control of the many rare medicinal plants
that abound in the Ecuadorian wilderness.

One of Gloria's sons was murdered several years ago in retaliation
for her activist efforts; now she and her collaborator, Rosa Gualinga, have
been directly attacked and almost killed, and remain in dire need of medical
help which, being "poor Indian women," is being denied them.

Please contact the authorities listed below --- it doesn't matter if
you can't do it in Spanish --- to express your support for Gloria and
Rosa, and make sure to tell them what country you live in, so they will
understand that, truly, the whole world is watching. Feel free to forward this to
any others who may also be willing to help.

In the Spirit of the Earth,
Andras Corban Arthen
Director, The EarthSpirit Community

Ecuadorian indigenous women leaders attacked, left for dead.

At the end of August, two indigenous leaders in Puyo, Ecuador were
attacked after months of receiving death threats for their efforts to protect
the territory of the Zápara people in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Gloria Ushigua and Rosa Gualinga were beaten until unconscious, thrown
in the trunk of a car, and later left for dead.

Both women are internationally known human rights defenders. Gloria
Ushigua is a leader of the Zápara people. Rosa Gualinga is of the Andoas
people and works closely with the Zápara. The Zápara are an indigenous people in
danger of becoming extinct, with a current population in Perú and Ecuador of
approximately 650. Gloria is an elected representative of Nacionalidad
Zápara de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana (NAZAE), the official representative
organization of the Zápara people in Ecuador, which works to promote
and protect the lives and lands of the Zápara people.

Zápara territory is rich with natural resources, like oil, timber and
botanical medicines, and there are varied interests who are trying to
exploit them --- oil companies, the military, illegal loggers,
settlers, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies, as well as fraudulent
"indigenous rights" groups who want to act as middlemen in the exploitation of
those resources, and who appear to be willing to do pretty much anything to
get a piece of the pie. For quite some time, one of those bogus groups of
people who are not Zápara have made several attempts to illegally seize from
NAZAE the official right to represent the Zápara people and take control of
Zápara land. Several individuals in this group have been threatening Gloria
and Rosa for more than a year. In recent months, after NAZAE won a legal
victory over the group, these threats have intensified.

On Sunday, August 26th, a woman approached Gloria in the street in
downtown Puyo. She said that her mother was Zápara and that she had an
organization that worked with indigenous communities. She invited Gloria and Rosa to
her house to discuss her work and the possibilities of collaboration.

At about 9 pm, they were sitting in the patio area outside of the
woman's house when a man entered, kicked Rosa, and sprayed Gloria and Rosa in
the face with a large quantity of what appears to have been tear gas. Three
other men followed, and the four of them viciously beat Gloria and Rosa
with fists, feet and clubs. Gloria was hit on the head with a rock.
Witnesses say that the four men threw the two unconscious women into the trunk of a
car and sped off.

Gloria and Rosa were found in the middle of the night, still
unconscious, in the middle of a road. Gloria's son got them home, where they regained
consciousness at around 4am on Monday. Although they have been to the
military hospital in Puyo several times, they have still not been given
a proper medical examination. Gloria's arm is broken and she has a high
fever. They are both in need of medical treatment and a complete examination
so that they can know the full extent of their injuries.

Gloria and Rosa were able to identify the first man who attacked them,
and a witness recognized a local police officer as another of their
attackers. Although Gloria and Rosa went to the police station in Puyo to file
criminal complaints against these men, they have been largely ignored and, to
date, no arrests have been made. Until justice is served, it is reasonable to
assume that the two women's lives remain in danger.

RECOMMENDED ACTION (please send appeals as quickly as possible):

- express concern for the safety of Gloria Ushigua and Rosa Gualinga,
and urge authorities to take immediate and effective action to protect them
and ensure that they receive the medical attention that they require.

- call on authorities to order a thorough investigation into this
attack, with results made public and those responsible brought to justice.


Ismael Fabricio Arcos Lopez
Gobernador de Pastaza
Calle Atahualpa y 10 de Agosto
Puyo, Pastaza
Telephone: 03-2885308 03-2885423
Fax: 03-2885457
E-mail: secretariagober@yahoo.com


Gustavo Larrea
Ministro de Gobierno
Espejo y Benalcazar
Quito, Ecuador
Telephone: 593 2 2955666
E-mail: gustavolarreacabrera@hotmail.com

Dra. Lourdes Tiban
Secretaria Ejecutiva Nacional
Consejo de Desarrollo de las Nacionalidades
y Pueblos del Ecuador (CODENPE)
Ave. Garcia Moreno
Quito, Ecuador
Telephone: 593 2 258 1319
Fax: 593 2 258 1559, ext. 109
E-mail: ltiban@codenpe.gov.ec

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