My family are the descendants of a shaman who could transform himself into a jaguar–the jaguar fights until death to defend his living space–that is why the Sarayaku people consider themselves children of the jaguar.
How do you win a major international case for indigenous rights? Persevering over eight years, the Kichwa indigenous community of Sarayaku took their claims to the human rights system of the Organization of American States.
In July of 2012, the Inter-American Court came down on the side of the community. The Court declared the Ecuadorian government guilty of perpetrating rights violations, having tried to force the entry of a foreign oil company against the community's will.
You can follow the community's inspirational journey in Children of the Jaguar, an award-winning documentary co-produced by Sarayaku and Amnesty International. In addition to their successful legal battle, the community has employed many other savvy strategies to maintain the integrity of their ancestral territory. The documentary demonstrates all of this artfully, alongside key aspects of Kichwa culture.
Eriberto Benedicto Gualinga Montalvo is the head of Selvas Productions and the director of the documentary “Children of the Jaguar“, winner of two film festival prizes: the National Geographic's award for best documentary and Columbia's Indigenous Festival prize for best depiction of a struggle by an indigenous people.
The documentary follows the lives of the inhabitants of Sarayaku in the southern Amazonic region of Ecuador and their fight against multinationals seeking to exploit oil reserves beneath the Amazon forest floor.