What do Macaulay Culkin and an Ecuadorian tribe have in common?


A Hollywood child star and an indigenous tribe living in the depths of a South American rainforest do not lend themselves to immediate comparison.

But for those familiar with the exploits of Culkin´s most famous alter-ego, the pre-pubescent Kevin a la Home Alone  who goes to mighty lengths to protect the family house from a couple of  grizzled intruders, things may eventually become clearer.

In the film (released in 1990), via a highly unlikely series of events, the McAllister family succeed in accidentally leaving the eight year Kevin at home as the rest of them depart for their Christmas holidays. No similarities with an Ecuadorian tribe just yet, but wait.

Our protagonist is then faced with the task of defending his home against two burglars intent upon plundering his parent’s property and making off with the spoils. It seems impossible that Kevin will succeed in his mission to survive and protect. His attackers are stronger and bigger than him. He is just a boy.

Yet, thanks to his quick minded employment of household products, which he ingeniously crafts into weapons of defence – including the strategic arrangement of small toy cars, syrup and a bag of feathers to render the baddies crippled in their intent – our young hero emerges victorious and the sanctity of his habitat is preserved.

And therein lies the link.

It is a tenuous one you might say, but it was of Kevin and adventures that I thought off when I read an article in The Guardian detailing the way in which a tribe in the rainforest of Ecuador was arming itself for a possible invasion by the Petroamozanas.

The Kichwa tribe live on Sani Isla. Oil giants are interested in their land with the Ecuadorian president harbouring plans to bring energy  speculators in to look at 4 million hectares of jungle. Backed by local security forces it is clearly who hold the advantage when it comes to numbers and material prowess.

Despite being the underdog, however, the tribe have said they are ready to fight to the death to protect their territory, which covers 70,000 hectares. They are currently assembling a make-shift armoury consisting of  blowpipes and spears. They are borrowing guns and are preparing to use sticks stones and any other weapons they can lay their hands on.

They have no intention of hurting anyone if they do not have to, they say, they just want to hold onto this portion of rainforest that has been theirs since anyone can remember.

This is classic Kevin McAllister. The difference is, of course, that this isn’t fiction.

Unlike Kevin, the virtue of their cause alone is not enough to consolidate victory. Outside the inevitable justice of a kid’s movie, winning the day just because you are the rightful heroes does not insure a just conclusion.

Avaaz have therefore launched a campaign to  create a media storm and expose this oil exploitation at a point when  the president is up for reelection and vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy. He has maintained that he is a green leader so to draw widespread criticism would be, as they say, “a PR nightmare”.

I am currently in Latin America, a part of the world so rich in natural beauty that the travesty of it’s gradual destruction seems all the more profound. I’ve started by signing this petition, however, this does not seem even vaguely adequate. It has been a while since I’ve held a sling-shot, but how I wish I had the balls to join the Kichwas as they face their enemy.