Samir Mina Caicedo
They have made themselves the owners of our land, knowing that it is communal. The palm oil company affects us in every way, polluting the environment and not giving work to the people of the community. Now they are threatening us, they are suing us for claiming our rights.
Samir Mina Caicedo is a human rights and environmental defender and vice-president of the Parish Council of San Javier de Cachaví, Esmeraldas province.As an Afro-descendant leader, he has a long history of defence and peaceful struggle for the respect of the communal and collective territory of the black communities. Together with other inhabitants of the region, he participated in the process to obtain a collective property title over 1,500 hectares of communal territory made up of the tropical rainforests of Chocó, one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Since 2005, Samir Mina Caicedo has been instrumental in the process of peacefully defending his community's territory and environment against logging and palm oil companies that have attempted to appropriate community lands in order to extract tropical timber and use the land for oil palm plantations. Members of the Barranquilla community have seen their traditional sources of livelihood related to the forest affected and have denounced that the rivers are being polluted.
On 8 September 2021 Samir was convicted and criminalised along with his companions and community leaders Nestor Caicedo, Andrés Arce and Luis Quintero for exercising their legitimate right to peaceful defence and protest against the activities of the companies that have been illegally installed in collective territory, causing permanent impacts on the health of the people and the local fauna.