Water protests rock Ecuador

Ecuadoran police on May 6 fired tear gas at indigenous protesters gathered outside the National Assembly building in Quito to oppose a water resources bill that they say would favor mining companies and agribusiness over peasant communities. Protesters blocked highways at three points around the country as well as blocking the entrances to the National Assembly building. Police said two protesters and 11 police officers were injured in the clash. At least 1,000 protesters are now camped out in a park near the congress building, where they expect to be joined by delegations from several provinces that are still marching on the capital. Near Guayllabamba, Pichincha province, police detained a convoy of 15 buses carrying some 1,000 indigenous comuneros from the village of Cayambi towards Quito. (IPS, Reuters, El Comercio, Quito, May 6)

The protests come as Ecuador’s government announced “good news” in negotiations with China’s Eximbank to finance construction of the Coca-Codo-Sinclaire hydro-electric project in the valley of the Rio Napa in Ecuador’s Amazon region. The Chinese company Sinohydro has been awarded the construction contract. (EFE, May 8)

See our last posts on Ecuador, the struggle for the Amazon, regional struggles for control of water, and China in Latin America.

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