Guardians of life: The indigenous women fighting oil exploitation in the Amazon

Felipe Jacome’s set of photos Amazon: Guardians of Life documents the struggles of indigenous women defending the Ecuadoran Amazon through portraits combined with the powerful written testimonies. The words across each photograph are a self-reflection of the lives of women, their culture, history and traditions, and especially about the reasons for fighting oil drilling on their ancestral lands. The color designs framing each portrait use the same natural dyes found in face paint to expand on the symbols and designs that reflect their personalities, courage and struggle. (Read More)

Swedish prosecutors to decide on lifting Assange warrant


Stockholm (AFP) - Swedish prosecutors investigating rape accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange must decide on Friday if they will lift a Europe-wide arrest warrant against him in a seven-year-old case.

The 45-year-old Australian denies the 2010 allegations which he fears will see him extradited to the United States and tried over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.

He has been holed up at the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 and risks being arrested by British police if he steps out of the building.

Friday is the deadline for the public prosecutor’s office to either renew or lift Assange’s arrest warrant before a Stockholm court.

Assange’s Swedish lawyer last month filed a new motion demanding that the arrest warrant be lifted after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Assange would be “a priority”.

“This implies that we can now demonstrate that the US has a will to take action… this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled so that Julian Assange can fly to Ecuador and enjoy his political asylum,” lawyer Per Samuelsson told AFP at the time.

The Swedish prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Marianne Ny, did not disclose her intentions in advance, but she was due to address a news conference at 12:00 (1000 GMT) on Friday.

Neither Assange’s lawyers nor the lawyer of his alleged victim could be reached for comment on Thursday.

The accusation against Assange dates from August 2010 when the alleged victim, who says she met him at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm a few days earlier, filed a complaint. 

She accuses him of having sex with her as she slept without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex. 

- Endless delays - 

“I am entirely innocent,” Assange wrote in a 19-page testimony released in December 2016.

He argues that the sex was consensual and that the accusations are “politically motived”. 

The investigation has suffered from endless procedural complications since it began.

The statute of limitations on the rape allegation expires in August 2020.

In a letter sent to the Swedish government on May 8, Ecuador condemned “the obvious lack of progress” in the investigation despite Swedish officials questioning Assange at the embassy in November 2016.

“It is extremely worrying that six months after the hearing at the Embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom, the Swedish prosecutor’s office has not yet decided on the judicial situation of Julian Assange,” the Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry said in the letter seen by AFP.

Ecuador demands that Sweden either charges Assange or drops the investigation.

Swedish judges have refused to take into account the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which in February 2016 said Assange was effectively “arbitrarily detained” by Sweden and Britain and called for the warrant to be annulled.

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Guardians of life: The indigenous women fighting oil exploration in the Amazon
November 8, 2014

On Oct. 12, 2013, a group of nearly 300 women from seven indigenous nationalitiesmarched to Quito, Ecuador, arriving in the capital four days later with their children in their arms, the sharp angles of their faces — young and old — decorated with vegetable ink designs, covered in the same strength and determination with which they began their journey. They were marching to Quito to ask the central government to respect their ancestral lands, to refrain from exploiting the oil that lies beneath his Kawsak Sacha, aliving jungle. In November of that same year, a smaller delegation of women peacefully protested during the 11th Oil Licensing Round, an auction of 6 million acres of ancestral indigenous land for oil exploitation. The protests, however, turned sour when oil executive and politicians scolded protesters, and Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa subsequently demanded the closing of the NGO Fundación Pachamama and indicted 10 indigenous leaders on charges of terrorism.

While women have always played an active role in historic marches that marked the struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples in Ecuador, this was the first walk organized and led by women.

Felipe Jacome’s set of photos Amazon: Guardians of Life documents the struggles of indigenous women defending the Ecuadoran Amazon through portraits combined with the powerful written testimonies. The words across each photograph are a self-reflectionof the lives of women, their culture, history and traditions, and especially about the reasons for fighting oil drilling on their ancestral lands. The color designs framing eachportrait use the same natural dyes found in face paint to expand on the symbols and designs that reflect their personalities, courage and struggle.

  1. “My name is Alicia Mosco. If oil enters our territory, my kids and I — we’re going to die. We get sick, and there is no cure for us.”
  2. “My name is Nancy. We want to defend our lands, forests, rivers, mountains and trees where spirits live. We do not want to get hurt, so women have to go to defend the forest. The president does not value and does not know the forest and wants to destroy it. Our children know the life of our ancestors through conversations with elders, so they learn to love the jungle.”
  3. “My name is Jimena. As a Shiwiar woman, I love my country. To my nature, I love my animals, my monkey, my fish, my rivers, air that gives us life. For this reason, we do not want to exploit the oil in our territory.”
  4. “My name is Simona. This is our land. These drawings symbolize wealth that exists in the forest. This government has no conscience. Why do they mistreat us? Our community is not going to stop fighting, though we are the last to continue the fight standing strong.”



Today on Fresh Air we talk about the true story of two albino African American brothers from Virginia, who, for much of their lives, were in circus freak shows. They were billed as Sheep-headed Cannibals. Journalist Beth Macy explains, “They were exhibited as Eastman’s monkey-men, Darwin’s Missing Links, the Ecuadoran Savages and for most of their time, on the road with carnivals and circuses, they were known as Eko and Iko, ambassadors from Mars.” 

Macy has written a new book telling the brothers story—a story about race class and entertainment during the first half of the 20th century.  She says there were years when the brothers were virtually slaves. “They were exploited. They were forced to work for no money. They were told their mother was dead. They were just sort of bought and sold as chattel.” 

Listen to this story:

Kidnapped, Then Forced Into The Sideshow: The True Story Of The Muse Brothers


Chicken empanada ($1) freshly made from a cart on 104th Street in Corona. This is a great area for street food, especially when PS 19 lets out around 2pm and the hungry families start noshing.

Sweet ladies running this cart, and the empanada tasted great too (choice of chicken or cheese). They weren’t too keen on pictures though (they only let me take one). The cart is probably legal, but if any inspectors out there are browsing this, they are on 5th Avenue and 68th Street in Manhattan. Go get ‘em!

ECUADOR, MACHACHI : A worker takes precautions as ash from the Cotopaxi volcano falls over the crop fields in Machachi, south of Quito on August 22, 2015 a week after the volcano first started showing activity since its last eruption in 1877. Nearly 325,000 people could be affected by an eruption of Cotopaxi, the volcano looming beyond the Ecuadoran capital of Quito, officials said. The biggest risk is from an eruption melting the 5,900-metre (19,000-foot) mountain’s snowcap and triggering massive melt-water floods and lahar mudflows that could sweep through nearby towns.   AFP PHOTO / JUAN CEVALLOS                        


May Day 2014 - New York City

Speakers at the May 1st Rally for Workers’ and Immigrants’ Rights in Union Square: Avin Dirki, a Kurdish-Syrian sister, speaking for Syrian American Forum (SAF); Berna Ellorin, BAYAN USA; Meches Rosales-Solano, People’s Power Assembly; Sara Flounders, International Action Center; Monica Moorehead, Workers World Party; and an Ecuadoran activist representing Migrants for Rafael Correa.

Photos by redguard

ECUADOR, Quito : Picture taken from Quito of the Cotopaxi volcano spewing ash on August 17, 2015. Nearly 325,000 people could be affected by an eruption of Cotopaxi, the volcano looming beyond the Ecuadoran capital of Quito, officials said Monday. The biggest risk is from an eruption melting the 5,900-metre (19,000-foot) mountain’s snowcap and triggering massive melt-water floods and lahar mudflows that could sweep through nearby towns, Ecuador’s minister of risk management Maria del Pilar Cornejo told a press conference.   AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO BUENDIA