The Andes
paro

Oil spike sparks national uprising in Ecuador

Ecuador’s national indigenous alliance CONAIE announced an “indefinite” paro (general strike), in response to a sudden jump in petrol prices. Things escalated when CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza was arrested in Cotopaxi province, where he was apparently participating in a blockade of the Panamerican highway. He was held at a military base, but released the next day following angry protests over his detention and a CONAIE call for “radicalization” of the campaign. Roadblocks are reported in at least 14 of the country’s 24 provinces, including Pichincha, where the capital Quito is located. CONAIE has presented the government of President Guillermo Lasso with a list of 10 demands. These include, in addition to a drop in fuel prices, a  moratorium on new oil and mineral leases, and reparations to communities impacted by extractive projects. (Photo: Kawsachun News)

The Amazon
cofan

Ecuador: indigenous rainforest defenders honored

Two indigenous leaders in Ecuador who successfully fought against mining on their ancestral lands were awarded the prestigious Goldman Prize for environmental activism. Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narváez of the Cofán indigenous people organized patrols, and used drones and camera traps to document gold mining operations within their traditional territories. Their evidence was crucial in securing a legal victory that resulted in 324 square kilometers of rainforest being protected from mining. The Cofán community sued the Ministry of Mines, asserting that the concessions violated their right to prior consultation. The SucumbĂ­os provincial court ruled for the Cofán in 2018, ordering a halt to the mining operations. In a review of the case this February, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court upheld the decision and widened its scope, holding that the state has an obligation to ensure that indigenous communities undergo a consultation process before any extractive activity is approved on or near their territories. (Photo: Goldman Environmental Foundation)

The Amazon
OCP

Pipeline rupture in Ecuador’s Amazon fouls river

Ecuador’s trans-Andean Heavy Crude Pipeline (OCP) ruptured amid heavy rains, spilling oil into a sensitive area of Napo province and contaminating several rivers draining into the Amazon Basin, including the Napo, Piedra Fina, Quijos and, most seriously, the Coca. The contamination also penetrated Cayambe-Coca National Park. Pipeline operator OCP Ecuador didn’t announce that it had stopped pumping through the stricken line until the following day, and at first denied that any waterways had been contaminated. This was repudiated in a statement from the Confederation of Amazonian Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONFENIAE), which cited reports from impacted Kichwa communities and tweeted a video showing crude polluting the Rio Coca. (Photo: Ecuador Ministry of Environment via EcoWatch)

The Andes
Quito police

Ecuador: president extends state of emergency

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso extended the country’s state of emergency by a second 30 days. The decree is ostensibly an attempt to combat the insecurity generated by drug-related crime and re-establish public order. It provides for the mobilization of military forces to assist the functions of the National Police in several provinces. The emergency was originally declared last month for a period of 60 days, but the duration was reduced to 30 days by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court. The renewed state of emergency will be enacted in nine of the 24 provinces in the country. (Photo via Wikipedia)

The Andes
Yaku PĂ©rez

Ecuador: protests in wake of disputed elections

Hundreds of indigenous protesters rallied outside the offices of Ecuador’s National Electoral Council (CNE) in Quito to demand a recount of the presidential vote. Third-place finisher Yaku PĂ©rez of the indigenous-based Pachakutic party, eliminated from the run-off election to be held in April, led a week-long cross-country march of his supporters from Loja province in the south which repeatedly blocked traffic on the Pan-American Highway before arriving in the capital for the rally. He then led a delegation to the CNE office, carrying boxes with more than 16,000 statements purporting to show irregularities. At the demonstration, his supporters chanted, “Transparency yes, fraud no!” (Photo of Yaku PĂ©rez, on bicycle, via Wikipedia)

The Andes
yaku

Indigenous candidate upsets Ecuador elections

Ecuador is heading to a run-off presidential race in April after leftist candidate Andrés Arauzof the Union of Hope (UNES) coalition won a first-round victory, following years of economic austerity made more painful by the pandemic. However, in a surprise development, his rival leftist Yaku Pérez Guartambel of the indigenous-based Pachakutik party emerged neck-to-neck with conservative banker Guillermo Lasso of the right-wing Creating Opportunities (CREO) party. The vote is still too close to call which challenger Arauz will face in the April run-off. Pérez portrays UNES and CREO alike as parties of the right that have embraced an economic model based on resource extraction. (Photo: Revista Crisis)

The Amazon
Amazon deaths

COVID-19: Amazon indigenous groups fear the worst

Indigenous leaders are warning that a combination of neglect, inadequate preparations, and a lack of lockdown measures is exposing remote and vulnerable communities in the Amazon to potentially devastating outbreaks of COVID-19. The major Amazon River ports of Manaus and Iquitos are among the hardest hit cities in South America, and deaths are already reported from indigenous communities deep in the rainforest, where health services are virtually non-existent. Communities already threatened by wildfires and illegal logging could be pushed to the brink in the coming months. (Photo: InfoRegión)

Planet Watch
Chile protester

Podcast: world revolution in 2020?

In Episode 43 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the current wave of popular protest and uprisings around the world, and asks if the planet is approaching another moment of revolutionary possibilities, such as was seen in 2011. He examines the prospects for these disparate movements to build solidarity across borders, repudiate ethnic and national divide-and-rule stratagems, and recognize the enemy as transnational capital and the authoritarian states that serve it. With discussions of Hong Kong, mainland China, Indonesia, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Honduras, Costa Rica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Guinea. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Photo: David Lynch via Twitter)

The Amazon
Pachamama

‘Dubia Cardinal’ rages against Pachamama

Cardinal Walter BrandmĂĽller, one of the two remaining “dubia cardinals” who dissented from a perceived liberal tilt in the Catholic Church, praised the men who stole the controversial “Pachamama statues” from a church in Rome during last month’s Amazon Synod and threw them into the Tiber River. The German cardinal hailed the perpetrators as “courageous prophets of today.” The statues, representing the Earth Mother deity of many traditional peoples in South America, had been used in events and rituals during the Amazon Synod, which brought together 185 bishops from across the Amazon Basin. The Synod was also attended by indigenous leaders, and issued a final statement stressing the threat of climate change and the need for a concept of “ecological sin.” (Photo: National Catholic Reporter)

The Andes
Quito protest

Ecuador: celebration as protesters score victory

Celebrations broke out across Ecuador after President Lenin Moreno agreed to overturn Decree 883, which would have eliminated fuel subsidies. Moreno’s capitulation followed 10 days of nationwide protests that left at least eight dead, hundreds injured and more than 1,000 detained. Moreno and protest leaders are to open a dialogue to find other means to cut Ecuador’s public spending. (Photo: CONAIE via Twitter)

The Andes
Ecuador protester

State of emergency as protests erupt in Ecuador

Ecuador’s government declared a state of emergency after protesters opposed to a fuel price hike blocked streets and disrupted transport nationwide. A national paro, or general strike, was called after President LenĂ­n Moreno announced his decision to end a 40-year-old subsidy for fuel—widely perceived as a move taken in response to belt-tightening demands made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following a recent $4.2 billion loan. At least 350 have been arrested in the protests, whch have been led by transport unions, indigenous organizations and student groups. (Photo via Twitter)

The Amazon

Bolsonaro to The Hague?

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro failed to attend the summit of leaders of seven South American countries with Amazon Basin territory to address the devastating fires now consuming the rainforest. Duque claimed a medical emergency, and was represented by his foreign minister at the meeting in Colombia’s Amazonian city of Leticia. Just before the Leticia summit opened, a group of international attorneys specializing in human rights and environmental law announced that they will file a complaint against Bolsonaro for crimes against humanity and the environment at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The attorneys, including the former French ambassador for human rights François Zimeray, will seek to have Bolsonaro indicted for his failure to respond to the fires in a timely manner. (Photo via Mongabay)