THE SECOYA: AN ANCESTRAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF THE AMAZON.
Several Secoya communities live along the border between Ecuador and Peru. In 1990, Manuel Pallares and Pablo Yépez, founding members of Fundación Raíz-CAEMBA, began a project aimed at the reunification of the Secoya people divided between Ecuador and Peru since 1941, the year in which the border was militarized and Secoya peoples were separated.
As a result of this initiative, in June 1999 it was possible to hold the first meeting since 1941 between the Secoya families of Ecuador and Peru. This was a historic event not only for the Secoya people but also for relations between the two countries.
Thanks to the work and vision of the members of Fundación Raíz, the Secoya people were able to achieve a very significant expansion of their territorial rights. Between the year 2000 and the present, mainly in Peruvian territory, the State declared the Aido Pai Communal Reserve, an area of 247,887 hectares, in favor of the Secoya people. On the Ecuadorian side, the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment has declared an area of approximately 5,000 hectares for use and management by Secoyas.
Raíz-CAEMBA Foundation maintains its commitment to supporting the Secoya people in their struggle to recover most of their ancestral territory and for their right to full reunification.
REUNIFICATION AND TERRITORIAL CONSOLIDATION OF THE SECOYA PEOPLE
Lagartococha is a black water river that forms the northern border between Ecuador and Peru. It is the most important lake system in the Ecuadorian Amazon and one of the most important and best preserved in Peru. For these reasons, both the Ecuadorian and Peruvian sides of Lagartococha have been categorized as part of the protected area systems of both countries.
The Ecuadorian side is the eastern limit of the Cuyabeno Fauna Production Reserve and on the Peruvian side are the Güeppí National Park and the Airo Pai Communal Reserve, created in recognition of the ancestral rights of the Secoya people.
This river is at the same time the geographical center of the Secoya territory divided between Ecuador and Peru and is an essential axis for contacts between Secoya families of both countries.
Since 1992, Manuel Pallares and Pablo Yépez, founding members of Raíz, have supported the Secoya in resettling some Secoya families along this river. In 2004, a group of Secoya families from Peru created the settlement of Mañoco or Puerto Estrella along the banks of the Lagartococha River, thus achieving a return of Secoya presence to Lagartococha after 80 years. Between 1941 and 1999 the Lagartococha River remained a militarized zone.