from Weekly News Update on the Americas
Some 10,000 indigenous people from throughout Ecuador gathered in the capital, Quito, Nov. 16-18 to demand that President Alfredo Palacio not sign a free trade treaty (TLC) with the US. The protesters are also demanding that the Palacio government cancel its contract with the US oil company Occidental (Oxy), and that a national constitutional assembly be convened to rewrite the country’s Constitution. In addition, the indigenous movement is demanding that the government end its cooperation with “Plan Colombia,” the US-backed military program which is intensifying the war in Colombia and spreading it across the border into Ecuador.
The actions in Quito, organized by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), started off on Nov. 16 with a march by more than 3,000 indigenous people and supporters from El Arbolito park to the National Congress. Police attacked the crowd and injured a number of people, including two children who were badly affected by tear gas.
CONAIE plans to step up the nationwide mobilization against the pending TLC. “We demand that the national government call a popular referendum in which we ask the Ecuadoran people whether or not they want to install a national constitutional assembly,” said CONAIE. (Adital, Brazil, Nov. 17; Resumen Latinoamericano, Nov. 18 from CONAIE)
On Nov. 17, some 10,000 indigenous people and Quito residents marched again in the capital, filling the Plaza de San Francisco in the historic center. The indigenous communities declared themselves in a “permanent people’s assembly” with ongoing meetings in the Agora of the Casa de la Cultura in Quito to decide next steps in the mobilization. The protesters gathered in Quito are from the provinces of Chimborazo, Imbabura, Esmeraldas, Guayas, Pichincha (Cayambe), Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Bolivar.
Late on Nov. 17 Palacio agreed to meet with CONAIE leaders; the meeting lasted into the early hours of Nov. 18 as CONAIE emphasized its three main demands: no TLC, Oxy out, and a constitutional assembly. On Nov. 18, nearly 10,000 indigenous people and supporters marched again in Quito, some heading to the National Congress, others to the Plaza de la Independencia, in front of the Carondelet government palace. Some indigenous people then began to return to their communities, while others remained in Quito to await a response from Palacio. (Prensa Latina, Nov. 18; Minga Informativa de Movimientos Sociales, Nov. 18; Resumen Latinoamericano, Nov. 18 from CONAIE president Luis Macas)
On Nov. 18, CONAIE representatives joined colleagues from Accion Ecologica and the Ecuadoran Foundation for Action, Research and Social Participation (FEDAEPS) in presenting a legal challenge against the TLC in the Supreme Court. The claim says Palacio has no right to sign the TLC without first consulting the Ecuadoran people. (Minga Informativa de Movimientos Sociales, Nov. 18)
Indigenous activists are also blockading highways in the southern Ecuadoran provinces of Canar and Azuay, and the roads linking Pichincha and Esmeraldas, as part of the mobilization against the TLC. In Los Rios province, residents of the community of Patricia Pilar have begun a blockade to protest the construction of the Baba dam. (Resumen Latinoamericano, Nov. 18 from CONAIE president Luis Macas)
Cesar Cabrera, leader of the Only National Confederation of Affiliates of the Campesino Social Security System (CONFEUNASSC), announced in a press release on Nov. 18 that Minister of Government and Police Galo Chiriboga had resigned to protest the repression unleashed on the residents of Patricia Pilar and other communities in Los Rios province who were carrying out a civic strike that day against the dam construction. According to Cabrera, as the strike leaders were negotiating with Deputy Secretary of Government Ricardo Rivera over a truce, in order to begin a dialogue about alternatives, government security forces launched an attack on the communities. Police agents backed by helicopters carried out violent raids on area homes, dropped tear gas on residential areas and destroyed a local church. Police forced protesters onto the ground in the streets, then stepped on them and shouted threats at them. A number of people were injured. (Resumen Latinoamericano, Nov. 18 from ALTERCOM)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 20
RALLY AGAINST OIL COMPANY
In Ecuador on Oct. 12, the Popular Front joined with delegates from Ecuador’s indigenous organizations, the radical environmental group Ecological Action, the Federation of Ecuadoran University Students (FEUE), representatives from the Committee to Defend Oil and others in marching from Quito’s El Arbolito park to a rally at the offices of the US oil company Occidental (OXY), which has been accused of violating the terms of its contracts in Ecuador. The marchers were demanding that OXY’s contracts be cancelled, and that other companies’ oil contracts be reviewed; they were also rejecting the neoliberal economic policies of transition president Alfredo Palacio and the government’s continued negotiations for a free trade treaty with the US, Peru and Colombia. (Campana Continental Contra el ALCA, Oct. 12)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct 16
Weekly News Update on the Americas
See also WW4 REPORT #114
See also our last news brief on Ecuador:
Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Dec. 1, 2005
Reprinting permissible with attribution