Could fungi provide an alternative to palm oil? (Mongabay)

QUITO, ECUADOR - Fungi – a kingdom grouping that includes mushrooms, mold and yeast – have long been heralded for their beneficial properties. They’ve been used to soak up oil spills, boost your immune system and lower cholesterol, among other environmental and medical feats. Now, researchers have found one more use for fungi – as …

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Signs of lasting trauma in people evicted to make way for giant mine in Ecuador (The Guardian)

TSUNTSUIM, ECUADOR - Months after they were evicted from their homes to make way for a mine, almost half the population of an Ecuadorian village is suffering from psychological damage, experts have said. Psychiatrists found 42% of the indigenous Shuar people of Tsuntsuim village suffering from mental health problems and trauma. Many of the villagers …

Earthquake In Ecuador: Women In Crisis Band Together (Argot Magazine)

BAHIA DE CARAQUEZ, ECUADOR - Andrea Quijije Garcia lost her home in the earthquake that hit Ecuador’s coast last year, and spent almost two weeks sleeping on the floor of a local church. She shared the small space with at least 40 other families. Most of them had to stay long after Garcia left, since …

Abortion Escorts in Ecuador are Breaking the Silence (Ms. Magazine Blog)

QUITO, ECUADOR - Las Comadres—which loosely translates as The Godmothers, or “a very close friend”—is a feminist group fighting back against the nation’s restrictive abortion laws. Members accompany women through their abortion procedures and provide them with medical and legal information. Last weekend, they ran their first national workshop walking women through the process. The …

What would you do if you had “nature’s pharmacy” in your backyard? (Mongabay)

  TAMIA YURA, ECUADOR – Benjamin Mamallacta Alvarado and his wife Dalia Tapuy were both recently sick, but instead of going to a pharmacy to pick up medication, they went into their backyard, which just happens to be in the Amazon rainforest. Born and raised in the Amazon, Alvarado has been using medicinal plants all …

Amnesty: A Win for Colombia’s Peace Process? (The New Internationalist)

QUITO, ECUADOR - Liliany Obiando is finally free – after nine years. For almost a decade, Colombian sociologist, human rights worker and former political prisoner Liliany Obando has been engaged in a long and complex battle with the Colombian state and judicial system. She was charged with ‘rebellion’ in 2008, but this March the state officially …

Colombia’s Cane Industry Efficient but Potentially Damaging (Mongabay)

CALI, COLOMBIA - Colombia’s Pacific coast state of Valle del Cauca, home to at least 80 percent of the country’s booming sugar cane industry, continues to rebound after excessive and damaging rains in 2011-2012. In fact, recent USDA Foreign Agricultural Services report found that the country’s cane industry continues to reach “historical averages.” The rebound isn’t …

Indigenous Leaders Denounce Ecuadorian Government Over Mining Conflicts (Mongabay)

QUITO, ECUADOR - Indigenous leaders and activists gathered in Quito, Ecuador, last Thursday, March 9, to denounce the Ecuadorian government for its complicity in allowing international mining companies to take over indigenous territory. The biggest topic on everyone’s minds was the current conflict in Ecuador’s southern Amazon region. In recent months the indigenous Shuar community there …

A Closer Look at Brazil’s Economy (The New Internationalist)

QUITO, ECUADOR - The Brazilian economy isn’t looking great these days. The country is facing one of its most severe economic crises since the Great Depression, with unemployment at almost 12 per cent and inflation hovering around 8 per cent. The scene has caused a lot of anger, resentment and suffering across the country. But Brazilians …

Another Blow to Colombia’s Peace Process (The New Internationalist)

QUITO, ECUADOR - The Colombian peace process was dealt another huge blow last week, after the launch of the long anticipated peace talks with the ELN guerrillas was cancelled Thursday. This move left many people feeling even more concerned about the future of the country and its prospects for peace. Last week, the Colombian government and …