Thousands of Indigenous families in northeastern Ecuador are living a nightmare within a nightmare.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Indigenous people severed connections between their forest communities and the outside world to prevent contagion in their territories. Local sources of food and water became more crucial than ever. Hunting, fishing, and subsistence agriculture are especially important in the northern part of the Ecuadorian Amazon as hunting grounds have been heavily degraded by the oil industry.
Then, on the evening of April 7, two major pipelines running along the banks of the Coca River in the Andean foothills collapsed, releasing an enormous quantity of crude oil into the rushing rapids.
Try to imagine: A deadly airborne virus is sweeping across your country. The government declares a national emergency and tells you to shelter in place. Your home is the forest, and your isolation is your only protection. There are no supermarkets, clinics, or hospitals; for many communities, the nearest ventilator is several days’ journey by canoe and foot. Then, at the worst possible moment, a massive manmade disaster devastates your home and eliminates your only source of food and water.
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