Ecuador: Correa acts against CONAIE

Ecuador's government announced Dec. 11 that the country's leading indigenous organization had two weeks to abandon the headquarters it has held for almost a quarter of a century. The announcement came in a letter from the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) stating that it needs the building on the northern outskirts of Quito as a shelter for street children. CONAIE president Jorge Herrera responded that the building "has been a symbol of the construction of a relationship between the state and indigenous peoples," and denounced the impending eviction as a "persecution of the indigenous movement." With the deadline approaching, CONAIE leader Floresmilo Simbaña pledged to resist removal. "We want to avoid confrontations and acts of violence," he said. But he added: "We are going to defend this place." The offices are currently occupied around-the-clock by CONAIE supporters, with banners and flags draped from the balconies.

Correa, for his part, responded to the controversy with invective against CONAIE: "There are people who I do not understand, who live in romanticism and myths, and do not take into account what is at stake… They have betrayed us over and over… They do not understand, and they do not represent the indigenous movement." Recalling CONAIE's 2011 genocide case against his government over Amazon oil drilling, he added: "These people have called us theives, genocidal, traitors… This is not the first or the last stab in the back [puñalada] we have received." (Ecuador InmediatoLa Hora, Quito, Dec. 20; La Republica, Quito, Dec. 19; UDW, Dec. 17)