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Ruth Buendía PERU

Environmental activists and indigenous leader of the Asháninka community from the Peruvian Amazon, known for her work in the defence of her culture and the environment.

When she was 12 years old, she was displaced from her land among 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 of the country. Her father was killed and she was sent with the rest of her family to an improvised concentration camp until a year later when they ran away through the Ene river to Satipo. Ruth then moved to Lima trying to find job to sustain her family.

En 1995 she went back to Satipo and enrolled in the evening school. She then met ashaninkas members of the CARE organization, and was invited to participate as volunteer. In 2003 her political activities started when she facilitated identity documents to inhabitants of the communities around the Ene river that had migrated due to the conflict and the 'Sedero Luminoso' group.

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

Ruht´s main victory leading the CARE was the stop of the Pakitzapango hydroelectric construction. The efforts in the defence of the ashaninkas territory continued until 2011 when the multinational Odebrecht abandoned the project on 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 nature and the environment.

The care created the integral surveillance system. this tool allows the communities to do an effective inspection to the activities done by 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."