This morning the CDES conference room filled up quickly with Ecuadorian human, indigenous and environmental rights activists. The three groups of rights are inextricably linked here in Ecuador, as the destructive history of the oil industry-previously reported on by the Advocacy Project-has shown.
CDES brought these people together this morning to begin working on an important new project-El Observatorio de Amazonía-The Amazonian Observatory. The ultimate goals of this Observatory are, first of all, to unite all of the people and groups working on Amazonian issues, and second, to construct a set of standards for researching and documenting economic, social and cultural rights abuses throughout the Amazonian region.
Finally, by January of 2006, CDES hopes to be able to publish a paper outlining these standards and examining several different cases of rights violations, with the help of the other organizations involved.
Besides Ecuador, the countries that are participating in this Observatory are: Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and Perú. Human rights groups and other NGOs in each country have already worked extensively on several different issues, including drug crop fumigations, which is a big problem in Colombia because of the adverse consequences of the chemicals used on the health of people living in the region.
This project will be an enormous undertaking for the already overwhelmed staff of CDES, but none of them seem to give this fact a second thought. Even before my arrival in Ecuador, I was impressed by how much work CDES does. Now that I have been here working for two weeks, I am realizing just how much dedication these people have to ensuring the economic, social, and cultural rights not only of the indigenous communities of Ecuador, or even just of the citizens of the Amazonian countries, but of all people. It is inspiring to think that such a small group of people can make such a difference in the lives of so many.
At times, I have been frustrated both in my studies and in my volunteer work-feeling like I am not doing enough to help by simply discussing the problems, instead of taking proactive steps to alleviate them. But, real change takes time. The year 2006 seems far away, but one must always look to the future and develop new and innovative ways to address the problems being faced, instead of simply concentrating on what is wrong now.
Of course, while the Observatory project is being developed, CDES will continue to do its best to aid indigenous and underprivileged communities in their fight for economic justice.
Posted By Christina Fetterhoff
Posted Jun 18th, 2004