Thursday, November 15, 2018

"We need to fight together"

More than 1,500 indigenous protesters had a clear message as they march through Ecuador's capital Quito on Wednesday: Stop mining on, or near, indigenous territory. The goal is ensuring the protection of their water and territory.
The Condor Mountain Range (Cordillera del Condor), home to several indigenous communities, an area particularly rich in biodiversity, surrounded by dense cloud forest. But the region is also rich in minerals, where small-scale gold miners and Ecuador's largest open pit mines operate. This includes the Chinese-owned Mirador copper mine, the region's first open pit mine.
Tension between indigenous communities and the mining industry in the Cordillera del Condor reached a peak in 2016 when the Ecuadorian army evicted the Shuar community from the town of Nankits to make way for the San Carlos Panantza open pit copper mine. The community tried several times to retake the territory, which ended in an aggressive standoff with authorities and the death of one police officer. The former government of Rafael Correa responded by calling the indigenous resistors "terrorists" and putting them on a blacklist, but they have since been removed. The Chinese-owned mine is currently under development.  

Last year, indigenous communities marched for nearly two weeks from the Amazonian city of Puyo to Quito to demand an end to oil extraction in the rainforest.
President Moreno, who met protesters, agreed to stop all new oil and mining concessions that failed to receive the prior and informed consent of local communities. The move was praised by environmentalists and considered a small win for indigenous rights.  
But months later, the government continued with plans to auction off plots of land in the Amazon for oil exploration, despite objections by local communities. The government is expected to release a list of qualifying companies in December and sign contracts in March of 2019. The government also continues to promote foreign investment in its mining sector, aiming to double its mining GDP by 2021.  
 A small group of Amazonian indigenous women occupied the Ministry of Hydrocarbons, refusing to leave until they speak with Minister Carlos Perez and present him with a list of demands - namely that oil drilling in the Amazon stop. As of Wednesday night, the women were still in the ministry.
"Oil will remain under the ground because we want to protect human life. Let's all go out to defend life," wrote Gloria Ushigua, one of the occupiers from the Zapara nation.

No comments: