Ecuador: Correa puts down oil protests

Leftist Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa declared a state of exception (which suspends some legal norms) in the southeastern village of Dayuma on Nov. 29 following protests there. Dayuma’s 2,800 residents live in poverty despite petroleum extraction operations in the area by a number of companies, including Chinese Andes Petroleum; on various occasions residents have confronted the military in demonstrations to demand better roads and jobs at the oil companies. In the latest incident, residents say soldiers burst into their homes, beating women and children and arresting the men. Some 25 people were taken prisoner, including Orellana province prefect Guadalupe Llori.

Human rights group have questioned the intervention of the military in Dayuma, and on Dec. 7 Constituent Assembly head Alberto Acosta announced the formation of a committee to investigate the situation. The Constituent Assembly, which Correa called for and which is dominated by his supporters, began meeting on Nov. 30 to write a new Constitution. Calling Acosta’s announcement “a stab in the back,” on Dec. 9 Correa threatened to resign “[i]f the Assembly plans to govern the country.” Correa said the prisoners had attacked soldiers with dynamite and birdshot and caused a 7% drop in the country’s production of crude. What happened in Dayuma was “sedition by criminal and politicized mafias which used certain communities,” he insisted. (La Jornada, Mexico, Dec. 10 from AFP)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 23

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