Ecuador: campesinos march on World Water Day

Three campesino leaders from Tarqui village in Ecuador's southern highland province of Azuay began an eight-day jail term in the provincial capital Cuenca on March 21, convicted of having disrupted the local water supply during a May 2010 protest against the Quimsacocha mining project, run by Canadian multinational Iamgold. Residents say the Quimsacocha project (also rendered Kimsacocha) will degrade and deplete local water sources. Ironically, the jail term for the three leaders—Carlos Pérez Guartambel, Efraín Arpi and Federico Guzmán—began on the eve of World Water Day, March 22, when a march on Cuenca had already been planned to demand local water rights and oppose large-scale mining projects. The march, which brought out several hundred, began with a ceremony in support of the jailed leaders at Cuenca's judicial building. "This is called the criminalization of struggle," said Delfín Tenesaca, president of the highland indigenous alliance ECUARUNARI. (El Tiempo, Cuenca, Kaos en La Red, March 22; La Tarde, Cuenca, Ecuavisa, March 21)