Webinar: Indigenous struggle against the white gold rush in the Andes

Veröffentlicht am: 18. Juli 2023||

The threat of Europe’s energy transition to the ecosystems and livelihoods of indigenous people and the fight for their rights


Thursday, 27th of July, 2023
17.00 – 19.00
CEST (Central Europe) / 11.00 – 13.00 UTC-4 (Chile)

Online by zoom: registration link

Languages: English and Spanish (with interpretation English – Spanish)

Invitación en Español – pdf

Invitation in German – pdf



The salt flats of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia (“the white triangle”) hold more than 75% of the world’s lithium deposits.

To combat the climate crisis, most countries have committed to move from fossil fuel-intensive to clean energy systems. But the rush towards a “green transition” through trade and investment in “critical minerals” still relies on the extraction of minerals and goes hand in hand with environmental destruction and violations of human rights. Mining companies use so much water that too little is for the ecosystem and local people´s livelihoods.

Ercilia Araya Altamirano, indigenous leader from the Maricunga salt flats in Chile will recount her community’s struggle for biodiversity, water and their way of life.

Ariel León Bacián, a Chilean lawyer and expert in indigenous rights, supports the struggles of indigenous peoples and won a legal case against lithium exploitation from the Maricunga flats in 2022.

Patricia Muñoz Cabrera, a feminist scholar from Chile, will contextualize the extractivism in the Andes with references to EU policies.

Facilitation: Joachim Raich, spokesperson for global supply chains at Südwind (Vienna)


About the speakers

Ercilia Araya Altamirano

Ercilia Araya Altamirano is the president of the Colla Pai-Ote indigenous community living in the Maricunga salt-flats in the Atacama desert, Northern Chile. Born and raised in the area of the Maricunga salt flats, Ercilia is a transhumant shepherd and artisan, who also has extensive knowledge of traditional medicine. From an early age, Ercilia has been a committed fighter for the rights of her indigenous community and for the protection of the biodiversity of the Maricunga salt flats. Together with her community, she has been a key figure in the struggle against unsustainable lithium extraction mining in their territories. Since the 1990s, she has been struggling to defend and enforce the rights of indigenous peoples, their ancestral traditions and modes of production and the rights of nature/Mother Earth: Pacha Mama. Their struggle for indigenous rights and Nature’s rights includes the protection of ecosystems, water and the biodiversity that sustains them.
With the support and advise of legal expert Ariel León Bacián, her community won a legal case against lithium extractivism in 2022 in the Copiapó Court of Appeal. This led to the legal halt of a lithium extraction project that had already been approved by the government at the time.


Ariel León Bacián

Ariel León Bacián, former advisor to the Chilean Senate, former advisor to the Constitutional Convention, advisor to the Selk’nam Chile Corporation, co-drafter of the Bill recognising the existence of the Selk’nam people in Chile, drafter of the lawsuit signed by 17 senators against the Monsanto Law (Upov-91 Treaty) before the Chilean Constitutional Court, drafter of the appeal for protection that paralysed the lithium tender promoted by former President Sebastián Piñera.


Patricia Muñoz Cabrera

Patricia Muñoz Cabrera is a researcher and consultant on equality & intersectionality in international cooperation, with a focus on the impact of trade and development policies on grassroots. She holds a PhD from the University of Brussels and has done post-doctoral research in Sociology in Chile, Belgium and Brazil. Her recent research work focuses on women´s struggles against violence and for gender equality in Latin America, with a focus on economic and social justice, and international relations. She has worked for different NGOs, among them the European WIDE/WIDE+ network.


Organizers: Südwind and WIDE

Registration: zoom link for registration: https://tinyurl.com/3r39tazy


Invitation pdf (in German)


Ercilia Araya Altamirano
More articles