Ecuador tribe wins early court battle to protect territory

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Waoranis leader Nemonte Nenquimo, center, and lawyer Lina Espinosa, right, celebrate after a judged ruled in their favor in a lawsuit filed against the Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources for opening up oil concessions on their ancestral land, in Puyo, Ecuador, Friday, April 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

Waoranis leader Nemonte Nenquimo, center, and lawyer Lina Espinosa, right, celebrate after a judged ruled in their favor in a lawsuit filed against the Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources for opening up oil concessions on their ancestral land, in Puyo, Ecuador, Friday, April 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — An indigenous Amazon tribe in Ecuador has won an early court victory in its fight to stop oil extraction in its ancestral territory.

A judge in a provincial court determined Friday that the Waorani people have a right to be consulted before any oil drilling takes place.

Lawyers for Ecuador's government are vowing to appeal the decision. The ruling sets up what could be a protracted court battle that will in the meantime protect the tribe's territory.

Sixteen Waorani communities claim they were deceived by workers who lavished them with gifts without making them aware they were in exchange for access to their lands.

The tribe's leaders say they will "never sell our lands to the oil companies."