Ecuador: indigenous movement calls national uprising

Following an “extraordinary assembly” Feb. 26 in Ambato, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) issued a call for a nationwide “uprising” to protest the government’s development policies and press demands for a “pluri-national state.” The statement charged that the government has “not modified the colonial State and continues building the neoliberal capitalist model.” CONAIE president Marlon Santi said “CONAIE has terminated the dialogue with the national government, because the process of dialogue has produced no results.”

The dialogue began following last September’s indigenous protests over oil, mining and water laws in which one indigenous woman was killed, a death Santi called a “state crime.” Forty police also were also reported wounded in the protests carried out by members of the Shuar indigenous peoples in the southeastern Amazon province of Morona-Santiago.

“This is an uprising that will be organized gradually. When we say uprising, this is a sacred word and a sacred action, a ritual. We are out to defend Pachamama [Mother Earth] and that’s what [the country] needs,” said Delfin Tenesaca, president of CONAIE’s Amazon affiliate ECUARUNARI.

President Rafael Correa responded in a televised statement: “We can’t allow groups, no matter how important they are, to seek to hold the state hostage and act outside the law… That harms all of us.” He added that if protesters “are going to close highways, kidnap people, as they’ve done before, to threaten life, that will be put down, and more than put down, punished with the full weight of the law.”

Correa’s Minister of Political Coordination, Doris Soliz, said that CONAIE’s announcement harms efforts to build the united pluri-national state established by the 2008 constitution. “The decision would mean the loss of a process of joint construction of an inter-cultural and pluri-national state,” but would not stop the government from continuing its work on behalf of indigenous rights, she added. (La Gaceta, Cotopaxi, Agencia Pulsar, March 3; EFE, LAHT, El Ciudadano, Quito, Feb. 26)

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