Thousands of Indigenous protestors carrying a giant rainbow flag arrived in Ecuador’s capital of Quito on March 22 (World Water Day) after a two-week Plurinational March for Life, Water, and Dignity of the Peoples. The march was in opposition to government plans to commence with large-scale mining, as well as to defend Ecuador’s new progressive 2008 constitution against neoliberal attacks and to pressure for the passage of water and agrarian revolution laws.
President Correa has two options. He can choose to turn to the left and to demonstrate greater capacity of consensus with the communities affected by his extractivist and neo-developmentalist policy, and with the social movements and the organizations to his left; or make more and more evident the conservative turn of the executive, consolidating and establishing new alliances with business sectors and political organizations to his right.
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) officially announced a march that will begin during the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, in the province of Zamora in the canton of Pangui, and will advance towards the city of Quito, arriving on March 22, World Water Day. The march is designated “National March for the Life and Dignity of the People.”
Canadian mining company Iamgold’s Quimsacocha gold mining project, high in the Andes of southern Ecuador is going nowhere fast. On October 2, the mining project was the latest one to fall victim to the community referendums that have defeated mining projects in Peru, Guatemala and Argentina.
During the constituent process of 2008, Ecuador’s social movements successfully introduced essential guarantees of certain rights for the transformation towards a fairer society and at the same time, in harmony with nature. Despite these achievements concerning basic rights, since 2008 the criminalization of the social protest has grown and has affected social leaders, teachers, students, public workers, journalists, indigenous people and rural communities.
Ecuadorian politics show clear signs of schizophrenia. The government employs a revolutionary rhetoric, appealing in all its pronouncements to the “Citizens’ Revolution,” but the executors of that very process are now accused of being “infantile” and of being “terrorists”.
During three days in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, hundreds of representatives from several Latin American countries gathered to share experiences and strategies during the Continental Conference in Defense of Water and Mother Earth. The event took place between June 17 and 23, and was organized as an act of resistance against development projects that threaten this vital resource, Yakumama, our mother water.
On May 7, Ecuadorians voted in a referendum on ten questions ranging through constitution, judicial, political, and social issues. In the run-up to the vote many observers cast the election as a plebiscite on president Rafael Correa’s four years in office, a test of his popularity, and on his prospects of winning reelection in 2013, rather than a contest over any specific issue that the referendum raised. More than anything, however, the referendum revealed the deeply fragmented nature of the country.
On December 2, 2006, 14 paramilitaries armed with 38-caliber guns and pepper spray fired into a group of unarmed Ecuadorian campesinos from a community that has been resisting a copper mining project for over a decade. Thankfully no one was killed, but there were several injuries, not to mention the psychological suffering caused by such a vicious attack.