The Huaorani arrived in New York City!
Two Huaorani leaders from the Yasuni rainforest of the Ecuadorian Amazon are in New York attending the 11th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (May 7-19). Their trip to the US was made possible due to the work of Judith Kimerling, who brought them to New York and to the UNPFII. Penti Baihua and Cahuiya Omaca travelled long distances from their rainforest homes to attend this annual event where they have an opportunity to meet other indigenous people from around the world, work with other indigenous leaders to have their rights respected and their voice heard. This will be an opportunity for them to meet with representatives of their government and of other international NGOs that, through their programs, have an impact on the Huaorani livelihoods.
The Huaorani are coming to New York to defend their right to live freely in their ancestral territory, in a clean and healthy rainforest, without oil exploitation and illegal logging, without interference from outsiders. They will demand that their will and rights be respected and that they be included in the decision making processes that have impact on their lives and on the fate of their rainforest (many projects are developed without consulting and informing the Huaorani, therefore without their free, prior and informed consent). They are being supported by their international counsel, Law Professor Judith Kimerling, who has been working with them for years on human rights and territorial issues.
Penti and Cahuiya are ambassadors of their Huaorani culture. During their stay in New York they will strive to reach a large and international audience at the UN and outside, to spread awareness about their way of life, about their rainforest, and about the issues they are facing. This way they hope that the Huaorani will form a network of friends and supporters who will help them achieve their goals of securing a good future for their children in a healthy, unpolluted rainforest.