Flor de María Paraná, 47, describes the bleakest moment of her life as the one that made her the leader she is today. “It was the day that everything changed,” she says when she remembers June 22, 2014. That Sunday, she saw some black spots, and noticed the strong smell of fuel, along with dead fish in the Marañón River. The damage extended from the creek from the Indigenous community of Cuninico, located in the district of Urarinas, in Peru’s Loreto province. Without knowing it, Flor de María was seeing the first evidence of one of the largest oil spills recorded in recent years in the Peruvian Amazon. “When the spill happened, there was nothing to eat. All the fish and our crops were contaminated. So, the men went to work cleaning the oil,” Flor de María recalls. State-owned Petroperú, operator of the Norperuano Pipeline (ONP), hired the men of the community to clean up the spill of 2,358 barrels of crude at the kilometer 42 point on Section I of the pipeline. The oil leak upended the lives of the approximately 90 families of the Kukama Kukamiria community, whose subsistence and worldview are closely linked to the Marañón River. The temporary contract with the company to clean up the spill included a gag order, and the men were forbidden from speaking out or complaining about the situation, or speaking against Petroperú or the government. Ultimately, it was the women of Cuninico who raised their voices and took on leadership…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer