The government of President Rafael Correa in Ecuador has called for the CONAIE indigenous movement to leave its headquarters in Quito. CONAIE leader Jorge Herrera says this is a political move on the part of the government to repress the indigenous movement and marginalize critics. Here is an open letter to Correa from Boaventura de Sousa Santos on the topic.
The road to Junín, one of Íntag’s 76 communities, crosses rivers and tree-lined farms. The population here has opposed mining for 20 years. They managed to force two multinationals, Japan’s Bishi Metals in the ‘90s, and Canada’s Ascendant Copper in the first decade of the 2000s, to leave the zone. Today, however, Íntag is divided.
The most alarming aspect in the granting of these concessions is that the communities were not consulted. In the national mining company’s 2013 environmental impact study, mention was made of a survey of the region’s inhabitants that recognized that 75 percent of the population rejects mining activity at the Ingapi concession, and 60 percent rejects the one at Urcutambo.
With calls to return power to the bases and to mobilize the grassroots in defense of the rights of community access to water resources, Ecuador’s largest and most powerful Indigenous federation has inaugurated its leadership for the next three years. At a two-day congress in Ambato on May 16-17, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) elected Jorge Herrera as its new president.
The most recent report published by the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) found that Ecuador was the largest recipient of bilateral south-south cooperation projects in Latin America. However, the report also noted that Ecuador has become an increasingly important provider in bilateral cooperation projects, specifically in the area of social assistance programs which accounted for 35 percent of all south-to-south projects carried out by the Ecuadorian government.
Denying the referendum means that a progressive government, when forced to seriously discuss its appetite for petroleum or mining, must shed its clothes and reveal its most intimate mercantile thoughts. Public debates on oil exploration in the Amazon promoted through public referendum could raise discussion about issues much more far-reaching than the government’s petroleum strategy. There would rapidly also be discussion about development, government practices, etc., revealing their contradictions.
In 2008, the government of President Correa suspended servicing part of the foreign commercial debt, but not the entire debt. This suspension of payments, or moratorium, was marked by a clear and preconceived programmatic position to seek out better conditions for renegotiating the debt, not because it was impossible to service. However, there are backward steps now being taken, a long way off from the transformative alternatives that were proposed in the beginning.
“In its most general sense, buen vivir [Sumak Kawsay] denotes, organizes, and constructs a system of knowledge and living based on the communion of humans and nature and on the spatial-temporal harmonious totality of existence. That is, on the necessary interrelation of beings, knowledges, logics, and rationalities of thought, action, existence, and living. This notion is part and parcel of the cosmovision, cosmology, or philosophy of the indigenous peoples of Abya Yala.”
In August 2013, President Rafael Correa announced that the world had “failed us” for not giving Ecuador enough money to save Yasuní-ITT. When the deal went sour social, indigenous, and environmental organizations responded by launching a campaign to gather 600,000 signatures in six months, as stipulated by Ecuador’s constitution, to push for a National Referendum and to let Ecuadorians decide the fate of Yasuní-ITT.