Letter from Cotacachi Mayor Auki Tituaña Opposing Mining Activities in the Intag Region of Ecuador

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

Of. No.684. MC-GL.A.2004

Cotacachi, 15 December 2004

Chris Werner
John Grist
Members of the Board of Directors,
Av. Republica Del Salvador N34-183,
Torre Azul- 3rd floor
Quito, Ecuador

To whom it may concern,

As representative of the Municipality of Cotacachi-Local government- let me extend my most cordial greetings.

In August 10 of 1996 I became mayor of the Municipality of Cotacachi -local government- by popular mandate, a position which has been ratified a third consecutive time, lasting until January 4, 2009. During this time I have seen with great concern the evolution of the mining problems in the Intag area, which is an integral part of Cotacachi County.

Unfortunately, I have witnessed how the mining situation has divided our communities and created numerous social conflicts in the Intag area. Furthermore, there is a strong and determined opposition by the majority of residents, communities, and organizations from this region against the presence of mining companies, and especially, against Ascendant Exploration, as similarly happened in 1997 against Bishimetals-Mitsubishi.

Moreover, the position taken by the communities in the Intag area counts with the unconditional support of the great majority of social organizations of our County which participate in the County Assemblies, as well as the backing of the Cotacachi Municipal Council.

It is important to inform you that in the Second Assembly for County Unity, which took place in September 1997, Cotacachi was declared an Ecological County, with the objective of protecting our environment and to avoid economically destructive activities, such as logging, industrial-farming, mining etc; which is another demonstration of the degree of rejection felt by the citizens against mining.

I should also point out that as representative of the multi-ethnic people of Cotacachi and as a son of the Kichwa Indians, we have suffered 512 years of exploitation, racism, and injustices; therefore, there will always be my personal and institutional support in favor of the communities’ position. For this reason we presented a Constitutional Injunction to the Constitutional Tribunal to invalidate the mining concessions in the area of Junín (Golden 1 and Golden 2), which we consider were illegally granted to your company by the federal government.

From the very first days of Ascendant Exploration’s presence in our County, we have witnessed serious instances of irresponsibility on the part of your employees, who have neither informed any institutions of their plans or, what’s worse, not even asked for appropriate authorization to undertake mining activities in our territory.

On the other hand, the very grave omission of not consulting with the communities potentially impacted by the mining project your company pursues, constitutes a unambiguous violation of Ecuador’s constitutional rights, a violation which we will never leave unpunished.

During these past months, and as consequence of Ascendant Exploration’s presence in our county, the communities’ decisions, as well as the different local development plans - created in a participatory manner with the different social sectors of our county- have not been respected. What's more, we’ve received a number of reports and denunciations of a dramatic and worrisome increase in libel cases, as well as death threats, directed to leaders who are struggling against mining.

For the above reasons, I would like to leave no doubt of my political will to continue fighting, and supporting the measures the communities and organizations in Intag and Cotacachi take against mining activities, in defence of life, and to assure our constitutional rights are respected.

Without more,


(Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy)

Econ. Auki Tituaña Males