Ecuador: drones deployed in Amazon stand-off

Ecuador's government has deployed military drones and police helicopters to the Amazon village of El Tink, where Shuar indigenous residents have for weeks been blocking the only bridge leading to the community, over the Río Zamora. The stand-off began after a confrontation between indigenous protesters and National Police left one police officer dead in December at another Shuar village, Nankints, across the Cordillera del Condor from El Tink. The clash at Nankints came after Shuar warriors reportedly attacked a camp of the Chinese-owned Explorcobres copper exploration project. Nankints residents wanted by authorities in the attack have taken refuge at El Tink, also in Morona Santiago province. Nankints has been in resistance since troops arrived to demolish the settlement to make way for the 41,700-hectare mining project last August. With the stand-off at El Tink, the uprising has spread to a second village. (The Guardian, March 19; Mongabay, Feb. 8; Mongabay, Jan. 26)

On March 10, a regional summit of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) was held in Quito, with a particular focus on the growing role of Chinese corporations in extractivist projects across the world's largest tropical rainforest. Bolivian delegate Adolfo Chávez charged that especially in countries that purport to be socialist, such as Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, "Chinese companies have really inundated indigenous territories." (La Hora, Quito, March 10)