Indigenous and Campesino Organizations in Ecuador Denounce Criminalization in Mining-Affected Area

CONAIE - Movimiento Indígena y Campesino de Cotopaxi - Frente Nacional Antiminero

Read the original statement in Spanish here.

As CONAIE, the Indigenous and Campesino Movement of Cotopaxi, and the National Anti-Mining Front, we denounce that approximately 70 community members from the parish of Palo Quemado and Las Pampas have been accused of being “terrorists” by the Canadian mining company Atico Mining, with the complicity of the government of Daniel Noboa. This is a clear example of the injustice that is perpetuated in the name of advancing a capitalist model for mining that only offers a false economic development based on the exploitation of human beings and nature. Our reasons are the following:

  • Environmental consultations have been characterized by a common pattern in the territories where they have been imposed by the government: lack of adequate and accessible information, exclusion of dissenting voices, manipulation of information, police and military repression and the disregard for international standards – all of which turn this process into a mere bureaucratic formality to justify decisions that have already been made in the offices of the mining companies and the corrupt politicians who support them.
  • We condemn the vile way in which the government is trying to divert attention from the real crimes committed by the companies. Instead of investigating the harms caused by the company, the government persecutes, harasses, and criminalizes the communities. We are men and women who defend our right to life, to water, to live in a healthy environment, to work in our fields, and to preserve our ways of life. 
  • We make an urgent call to the Ombudsman’s Office, as a watchdog for the serious situation we are experiencing right now in the territories. We remind the government that Ecuador ratified the Escazú Agreement, an instrument that protects the defenders of nature, and the government’s failure to comply [goes against] its international responsibilities. We alert the various human rights organizations in the country and the region about the nefarious intentions of the government, which seeks to silence the defenders of nature, labelling them as terrorists in order to militarize the territories strategic for mining exploitation.

Finally, we call on society as a whole to stand in solidarity with the affected communities and demand an immediate end to the threats, harassment, repression, and criminalization against human, collective and environmental rights defenders in the country. It is time to put an end to the impunity of the mining mafia that enriches itself at the expense of the suffering of the most vulnerable communities through the imposition of an agenda of dispossession and violence.

We condemn the criminalization of our compañeros and compañeras who exercise their legitimate right to resistance; fighting for life and for our territories IS NOT TERRORISM.