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Aurelio Chino Dahua, President of FEDIQUEP [1]

Mario Zúñiga Lossio, Anthropologist of PUINAMUDT [2]

Originally published at: https://observatoriopetrolero.org/los-caminos-del-vivir-bien-1-la-sanacion/


These times of epidemic, dreams have not stopped, perhaps, some have been postponed, but they are there. This is the case of the traditional medicinal center for the Inka people of Pastaza.

Today, in the midst of many reflections that are focused on the virus and the pandemic, we want to share the history of this Center, which is a history that will continue after this world crisis, because it is not something that has grown from one moment to the next. another, but has been raised by the Inka people of Pastaza for many years and will continue to grow many, many more years. Today, thanks to the support of the European Commission through the Indigenous Navigator project and the strength and solidarity of the work of our communities, it is possible to carry out the inauguration of the first buildings of the Center, which will allow us to start our vision.

A vision that will allow the continuity of life after the disaster is also a contribution from our people to build the future.

Girls of Sabaloyacu. Photo: Mario Zúñiga.


Since 2010, the Inka people of the Pastaza River basin expressed in their Life Plan the decision to recover their traditional medicines, their ancient knowledge about healing as well as the wisdom and recognition of their doctors.  

We know and are aware that, the extraction of oil in Block 192 (ex 1AB, located in Loreto-Peru) within the Inka territory, together with the "development", brought since 1971 a context of bodily and territorial diseases that did not They knew each other before the arrival of the oil companies. In addition to this, the state care was insufficient, the medicines of the drugstores of the cities, or of the medical posts and their form of care were only palliative or calming to the pain and damages suffered by the people, who felt they were dying little by little. little bit.  

That is why, since 2010, when crossing the Pastaza River and visiting each community, it has been possible to see and hear the desire of the Inka people about their health, growing, growing, demanding attention for the healing of their territory and their lives. 

It is in this context that the FEDIQUEP federation began a fight focused on the State recognizing the situation, environmental disaster and health damage, caused by the extraction of oil from Block 192. This Block is located in the upper part of Pastaza, and as a snake bites the entire basin, where the Inka people live with other peoples, emitting pollution and damage, destroying our territory, making it sick and ill. 

Aurelio Chino, President of FEDIQUEP. Photo: Mario Zúñiga.

However, FEDIQUEP, along with other indigenous organizations in the PUINAMUDT Platform, has fought for the care of this sick area, which is almost dying. And together with the State, environmental damage caused by the oil companies has been identified and recognized (more than two thousand sites impacted without remedy), and also the health damage caused by heavy metals that have spoiled our bodies and territories for almost half a century. Today the State has a debt that we are making it pay; it has to remedy our territory and it has to create special conditions for the care of our health damaged by the oil companies.

But the fight does not stop there. Our fight for many years is not only for oil to stop killing us and for it to only be remedied or treated in health from the State. Nor is it just for having an economic development based on money or business. The integrity of our struggle is to recover and walk towards good living, which in our Quechua language of Pastaza is Sumak Kawsay, thus protecting ourselves and our territories in all dimensions: social, spiritual, territorial. 

In this sense, we have walked a vision of autonomy of our health for years. Together with friends and friends, companions on the road, scholars and scholars (such as Andrea Gutierrez Choquevilca), together with the comuneros and comuneras we have been creating an idea, chuk [3]  thought, which is to recover our traditional medicine, to start that First Path of the Sumak Kawsay (CSK), the path of healing that means saving the lives of our peoples and our territories, of our bodies and spirits.

Thanks to the opportunity that IWGIA and the European Commission gave us, we had in 2018 when the community surveys were carried out within the framework of the Indigenous Navigator project, a time to think together with the FEDIQUEP communities about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, where we saw that there were things that were poorly stated within these SDGs, such as the issue of poverty, such as the issue of health, and we thought together and together that it was time for begin to build our CSKs for the healing of the Inka people, to recover our own traditional medicine from the mountains, from the sacha, which had been mutilated, attacked, wounded by the advance of poor development (even sustainable), on the part of the State and the oil companies. 

Towards Sabaloyacu, to the minga to build the medicinal center. Photo: Mario Zúñiga.

And we started to get together to think and do. Where would we do it? Well, in a place in the middle of Pastaza, in a community where there is no oil company that poisons even our medicinal plants. That community would be Sabaloyacu. We also think according to the wisdom of our wise men and women that our medicine spaces should be far from where people live and near a lagoon called Tundunare, like the fish. Away to avoid the noise, since the patient has to be in a place of silence. And this is so because that is how the plant spirits ask for the disease to be treated, that is the science of traditional natural medicine, because the medicine of the bush is very jealous. 

After choosing the place, all of us together, we decided to call our medicinal center: Sacha Tarpukunahua Ampirina Wasi Inka / Achuar [4] . Our dream as an Inka people is that this place is a kind of indigenous healing hospital for all our Inka people and for our Achuar brothers. Also that it is a space where our doctors, curious and curious, are certified. Also, that midwives can be prepared there and share their knowledge. Finally, the last two objectives is that it be a center for the recovery of medicinal plants and there you can investigate how to heal different evils and damages, ancient and spiritual, but also the new damages that the oil companies or the same State have brought us from outside, damaging our Sumak Kawsay with its development. 

The Inka people with the support of IWGIA, Peru Equidad, PUINAMUDT and the European COMMISSION, then began to coordinate the carrying out of various collective works, which we call mingas. Thus an organizing committee was formed from the Sabaloyacu community, which would administer a small fund and in coordination with FEDIQUEP mobilized several Inkas communities (hundreds of comuneras and comuneros) and Achuar, during three great mingas, working roads, bridges, large and traditional malocas , all respecting the environment.  

We also made with the help of Fabiola Espinoza and Diego Vargas a video (in Spanish), which has recorded the work we have done so far, through which a small audiovisual approach is offered to the path towards the realization of our dream.


Sacha Tarpukunahua Ampirina Wasi Inka / Achuar promotional video


We are about to inaugurate our first maloca and the open path for the Medicinal Center, we hope that others will join this effort, with their walk with the peoples so that, from below, with the people, from the plants, and from the bottom of the spirit we can continue recovering the CSK of the sanction, with this we can continue to advance in the construction of the center and also so that we can continue developing our vision. 


Today one of the Authors, Aurelio, after denouncing the environmental disaster of Pluspetrol in the Netherlands in front of the OECD, is going through a Corona Virus situation, however, it does not present symptoms or crises. Respectful of the recommendations for isolation and immobility, Aurelio has decided not to enter his territory and has strictly followed all the recommendations made by doctors and authorities with indigenous discipline, with the conviction that all of us will walk in solidarity get out of this, and knowing that, after it passes, the Medicinal Center worked for so many years may perhaps be a place to rethink even crises like this, and perhaps provide the healing that is so longed for in the bodies and in the spirits of this times. 

This post is has been machine translated into English. See the original in Spanish here: https://observatoriopetrolero.org/los-caminos-del-vivir-bien-1-la-sanacion/

This project is possible with the financial support of the European Commission - International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) - channeled by the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), executed by FEDIQUEP, PUINAMUDT and Peru Equidad within the framework of the Initiative of the Indigenous Navigator


[1]  FEDIQUEP. Quechua Indigenous Federation of Pastaza.

[2]  United Amazonian Indigenous Peoples in Defense of their Territories (PUINAMUDT) ”, formalized in July 2013, and made up of the 4 representative indigenous organizations from the four affected basins (FECONAT, FEDIQUEP, FECONACOR and ACODECOSPAT).

[3]  "One"

[4]  House of Healing with Vegetables from Our Inka Territory / Achuar

Contacts :

Aurelio Chino Dahua. President of FEDIQUEP.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mario Zúñiga Lossio. Adviser. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Supported by the European Union


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The Indigenous Navigator provides a set of tools for indigenous peoples to systematically monitor the level of recognition and implementation of their rights.