‘The Forest Is Life’: Indigenous Ecuadorians Fight Gold Miners

Maikiuants, Ecuador

The brightly colored chiva bus rocked back and forth, scraping branches on the sides, as it drove on the narrow dirt road through the mountain ranges of the Cordillera del Condor, in Ecuador’s southern Amazon.

Stretching about 150 km (93 miles) along the border with Peru, the region is known for its rare species and for its large deposits of gold and copper, which Ecuador and its neighbor fought over for half a century until a border agreement in 1998.

Today, the area is ravaged by a different kind of conflict as the indigenous Shuar people fight to protect their lands, forests and rivers from the creeping spread of Ecuador’s mining industry.