In Ecuador's rain forest, the flames from surplus oil and gas extraction burn day and night, a fiery emblem for 20 years of oil exploration. But Indians here are acting to save their land and culture from further destruction. "These are the fires which our grandparents warned us would reach our communities," says a young Achuar Indian.
Today the Monitor continues its three-part special report on the issues facing the world's indigenous people by focusing on the Indian tribes of Ecuador who are resisting the state-approved exploration of their land. Among Latin America's indigenous movements, the Ecuadoran Indian groups are perhaps the most visible and successful.
The United Nations has proclaimed 1993 as the International Year for Indigenous People, part of its focus on worldwide human rights. From 300 million to 600 million indigenous people live in 70 countries, mostly as disadvantaged peoples struggling for survival.