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Ruth Buendía PERU

Environmental activist and indigenous leader of the Asháninka peoples from the Peruvian Amazon, Ruth Buendía, is known for her unstoppable defense of her culture and the environment.

When Ruth was 12 years old, she was displaced from her land along with her family, due to the conflict between the government and the organization 'Sendero Luminoso', which mainly affected the communities living in the central rainforest. Her father was killed and she was sent with the rest of her family to an improvised camp until a year later when they ran away through the Ene river to Satipo. Ruth then moved to Lima in an attempt to find job to sustain her family.

In 1995, Ruth went back to Satipo and enrolled in the evening school. Then, she met Ashaninkas members of local organization Central Ashaninka del Río Ene' (CARE) where she was invited to participate as volunteer. In 2003, her political activities started when she facilitated access to request citizenship cards to members of the communities around the Ene river that had migrated due to the conflict.

CARE is an indigenous political organization which represents 18 communities that live around the Ene river, and 33 more annexed communities. It was initially created in 1993 and then was re-organized to formally represent the Ashaninkas. In 2005, when CARE decided to establish a transitory board of directors aiming to institutionalize the movement, Ruth became president and the first woman in this position.

Ruth´s main victory leading the CARE was stopping the construction of the Pakitzapango hydroelectric project. The efforts in the defense of the Ashaninkas land continued until 2011 when the multinational company Odebrecht abandoned the construction of two hydroelectric plants in the Ene´s river basin.

In 2014, Ruth Buendía received the Goldman Environmental Prize. This award is given each year to defenders of natural world and the environment.

care created the integral surveillance system. this tool allows the communities to undertake an effective inspection of the activities of external agents inside their territories, and to monitor public services recieved from the peruvian state.

In reference to demonstrations that took place in northern Peru against a gold-mine project in 2012, Ruth told The New York Times:

"They think we're going to break windows and protest like in Conga, but we aren't. Just as they do to us with legal documents we are going to do to them."