from Weekly News Update on the Americas

Some 200 Ecuadoran campesinos occupied the roads leading to the Coca-Payamino installation of the French oil company Perenco on the morning of June 19 to protest the company’s “indifference” to the environmental damage they said it had caused. The campesinos came from three communities–15 de Abril, Asociacion Campesina Payamino and Asociacion Campesina Punino–in Orellana province in northeastern Ecuador. The campesinos said company representatives repeatedly failed to come to meetings called to resolve the problems.

During the morning the approximately 20 Ecuadoran soldiers that had been guarding the facility for the last three weeks were reinforced by 20 soldiers arriving in helicopters and by six local police agents coming on foot, according to local residents. The governor of Orellana and a ranking military officer also arrived and ordered the removal of the campesinos at noon. “The police and military forces repressed the campesinos by hurling a large number of tear gas grenades and shooting rubber bullets, resulting in two people wounded, two arrested and the end of the occcupation of the oil installation,” the Human Rights Office of the Coca reported.

One of the people injured was Wilman (or Wilmer) Adolfo Jimenez Salazar, a member of the Orellana Human Rights Committee who was acting as a human rights observer when he was shot six times with rubber bullets at close range, in the leg, arm and abdomen. He was then arrested. He was taken to the Orellana Civilian Hospital for treatment, but Orellana judicial police agents later removed him. Human rights groups and the municipal government of Francisco de Orellana designated Jimenez a “disappeared person” and filed a habeas corpus petition for his release.

Orellana prefect Guadalupe Llori told the Associated Press she was attempting to mediate the situation. Although the campesinos were removed on June 19, “I think they’ve gone back to reoccupy” the area, she said on June 20. “They play cat and mouse. Today they’re removed, tomorrow they’re back.” Perenco has been operating in Ecuador since 2002, exploring and drilling in the Amazonian region, according to its website. (Yahoo Noticias Argentina, June 20; El Nuevo Herald, Miami, June 20 from AP; Diario Hoy, Ecuador, June 20 from AFP; Francisco de Orellana press release, June 20)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 27


Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also WW4 REPORT #122


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, July 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution