Josefina Tunki
First woman president of the CGPSHA, Josefina Tunki at an assembly (Source: CGPSHA)
Blog Entry

The Shuar Arutam People (PSHA) Denounces Mining Company Solaris Resources Inc.’s Violent Attempt To Bring Heavy Machinery Into Our Territory

Viviana Herrera

Interim Latin America Program Coordinator

PUBLIC COMPLAINT – Tiwintza

Background:

  • On August 26, 2021, the Shuar Arutam People, along with 136 other Ecuadorian and Canadian organizations, including MiningWatch Canada, sent a letter to Sylvie Bédard, Canada’s Ambassador to Ecuador, asking her to issue a formal public statement condemning Canadian mining company Solaris Resources Inc.’s death threat against the president of the Shuar Arutam People (PSHA), Josefina Tunki, and her colleagues.
  • The letter also denounces the corporate abuses by Solaris, which has promoted community division, intimidation and militarization of the Shuar Arutam territory in order to advance its Warintza mining project, and calls on the Canadian embassy and government to take immediate action.

Context:

  1. On August 17, 2021, in the Maikiaunts community, headquarters of the Shuar Arutam People, the Governing Council of Shuar Arutam People and the governor of Morona Santiago province, Freddy Villamagua, held a meeting attended by a massive concentration of different authorities and members of communities from all over the Cordillera del Condor. We declare:
  1. "No one can blackmail us in return for infrastructure work, as Rafael Correa did, or threaten us, saying that public security forces will enter in 100 days to make the concessions effective, as suggested by the governor."
  2. “The Shuar Arutam People”, through its highest authority, the Assembly that represents 47 centres, has decided to reject large-scale mining projects in our territory. In addition, these concessions have been granted without having respected our right to prior, free and informed consent, which is why they must be cancelled.
  3. The Governor was informed by PSHA that according to our collective rights, we have established an Indigenous Guard to monitor incursions of illegal loggers, assist communities during health emergencies and environmental monitoring in our territory.
  1. On August 20, 2021, the president of PSHA, Josefina Tunki, sent a letter to engineer Federico Velásquez, vice president of the company Solaris Resources, where she requested: “a copy of the Environmental Study Plan of the Warints-Yawi road project, already approved by the respective ministry” and “a copy of the Environmental Management Plan for this project.”
  1. On August 20, 2021, the president of the PSHA, Josefina Tunki, sent a letter to the Presidents of the Warints and Yawi communities, in which she expressed:

(...) “every road project must first count with the respective documents, authorized by the pertinent organisms. Not having the necessary environmental authorizations and licenses is modifying the regulations set in place by the Constitution of the Republic and environmental organizations. For this purpose and prior to the entry of machinery for the purpose of construction work, it is our duty and yours to demand that the construction company deliver:

  • A copy of the Environmental Impact Study of the Warints-Yawi road project, already approved by the respective ministry, and,
  • A copy of the Environmental Management Plan of this project

"If these documents are denied by the mining company or the Ministry of the Environment, we will give all support to the surveillance and community control work that the Maikiuants centre provides, as the headquarters of the PSHA."

  1. On August 26, 2021, heavy machinery from an unidentified owner, accompanied by the Political Lieutenant of San Antonio, Sandra Rogerón and the Councilor of the Limón Indanza Canton, Jonny Martinez, attempted to forcibly pass through the community control of the Shuar center Maikiaunts supposedly for the construction of the Warints to Yawi road.
  1. The PSHA issued a statement on August 26 in which we rejected the entry of heavy machinery into our territory, in accordance with the legal inembargability, imprescriptibility and inalienability of Indigenous peoples’ territories. We requested an urgent meeting with the Governor to discuss these rights violations.
  1. On August 29, 2021, the President of the Nunkui Association and the Trustee of the Maikiaunts community issued a statement to the President of the PSHA, stating that the following resolutions had been taken at the Extraordinary Assembly held that day:

a.     “(...) unanimously reject the entry of machinery for infrastructure work for the road project, ratifying the resolution of the organization to activate control over the territory belonging to the Shuar Arutam People (...).

b.     “(...) formalize a legal manifestation before the local, provincial, regional and international Human Rights authorities (...)

  1. On September 5, the PSHA Governing Council issued a statement informing about an Ordinary Assembly of women from the Maikiaunts community held that day. The women decided:

a.     “(...) that we unanimously reject the entry of construction machinery from the Warints - Yawi road project, financed by the Warints mining project (...).

b.     We will not be responsible for any inconvenience or infraction that may arise in our territory in case of failure to comply with these resolutions. Protected by our right to self-determination and self-government within our ancestral and millenary collective territory, we will not allow any local authority to give orders within our jurisdiction.”

c.     (...) we defend our right to resistance against the harassment of extractive companies and we request that our voice be raised at the Provincial, National and International levels."

New Violent Attempt to enter our Territory

  1. On September 6, on the “Warints and Yawi” Facebook page, a post was published announcing the “creation of a private security” group in the Warints community on September 5, an event organized by the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, it details "provisions delivery", and it invites "young ladies, men and women" to "take the private security course".
  1. On September 8, 2021, at approximately 05:15 am, we were informed that a loading platform carrying a backhoe arrived in the Shuar Tserem community, a territory of the Shuar Arutam People, heading to the “Maka Naink'' mountain range where Solaris Resources Inc. operates and passing by the community of Warints and Yawi. The women of the Maikiaunts community prevented this machinery from passing by.
  1. On the same day, September 8, 2021, at about 06:10 am, the driver of a vehicle known as a ranchera, who arrived at the Maikiaunts community, informed us that he was hired to move Warints personnel to the Maikiaunts community. With the precedent of the "private guard" created in the Warints community, it is clear that the intention of transferring personnel to Maikiaunts is to confront the group of women who are resisting the arbitrary entry of machinery into our territory.

Regarding these allegations

The Governing Council of the Shuar Arutam People (CGPSHA), in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, the ILO Convention 169, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, demand:

  1. To the national government, presided over by President Guillermo Lasso, the Minister of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources and the Vice Minister of Mines, to suspend large-scale mining activities carried out by Solaris Resources Inc. in our territory. These activities violate our legitimate decision to say “No to Mining” in our territory, a decision protected by our right to self-determination and other collective rights. To disrespect this decision violates our Life Plan, which is the Constitution that guides the objectives of our People. In addition, mining companies disrespect our Assembly decisions, and by doing so, they create serious conflicts between the communities, something that could generate violent acts, all sponsored by the mining companies that act without any government control in the territories of the Indigenous Peoples.
  1. To the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, the Prefecture of the Province, the Ministry of the Environment and other competent authorities to release a statement about whether or not there are agreements for the alleged development of the Warints-Yawi road project, and also if it’s being financed by the mining company. In this sense, if these agreements exist, we request that you make them public, including the Environmental Impact Studies for the road project, Warints-Yawi, already approved by the respective ministry, and a copy of the Environmental Management Plan for this project.
  1. The right to peaceful resistance that the Maikiaunts Women's Collective should be respected. They exercise this right to defend our territory from the abuses perpetrated by the mining company which insists on entering heavy machinery by force. An action that has been carried out with the complicity of Tlgo. Jonny Martínez, Municipal Councilor of Limón Indanza and Sandra Rogerón, Political Lieutenant of San Antonio Parish. Likewise, we request that the Governor of the Province complies with the commitments made on August 17, 2021, and that their actions which seek  to support the transnational mining company over the rights of PSHA, are investigated and punished.
  1. To the Minister of Government and Vice Minister of the Interior, investigate and make a public statement about the creation of a “private guard”, which, according to posts made by residents of Warints and Yawi, would have the endorsement of the Ministry of the Interior, and the financing of Solaris Resources. This is without a doubt an act of provocation that intends to show that the company is willing to use force, regardless. We are one people, and until its arrival, we lived in harmony among all the communities. Worst of all, the Ecuadorian government is endorsing these practices that are in clear violation of our collective rights by installing an armed force in our territory, contravening article 30, numeral 1 of the ILO Declaration that states: "Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of Indigenous Peoples."
  1. To the Ombudsperson: to produce an Ombudsperson Report on the violations of our collective rights by transnational mining companies with concessions in our territory that focus on the current conflict in the Maikuants, Yawi and Warints communities due to Solaris Resources’ operations.
  1. We call on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other United Nations bodies to demand the Ecuadorian government to strictly comply with the human rights of the PSHA and its 47 communities against the serious denunciations and threats that we express in this letter. We respectfully request that they release a public statement on this matter, and that we are given the opportunity to discuss these urgent matters affecting the Shuar Arutam People in more detail.
  1. We must point out that anything that happens in our territory will be the responsibility of Solaris Resource mining company, its private armed security group, and all the Ecuadorian Government agencies that have not fulfilled their duty to respect and enforce our collective rights.

Josefina Tunki, President of the Shuar Arutam People