Shuar Arutam People Speak Out Against Solaris Resources' Cooperation Agreement

Pueblo Shuar Arutam - PSHA

The following is a translation. See the original statement by the PSHA in Spanish here



On March 1, 2024, Solaris Resources reported signing a “cooperation agreement between the Interprovincial Federation of Shuar Centres and the Alliance for Entrepreneurship and Innovation of Ecuador.” [This statement] seeks to make people believe that these are agreements endorsed by all of the Shuar centres, ignoring and minimizing once again the position of the Shuar Arutam people who reject this mining project and the company. This opposition led us to file a complaint against the company in Canada before the British Columbia Securities Commission with the support of CONAIE, CONFENAIE and the Shuar-Achuar Inter-Federational Committee. Accordingly, we DECLARE:

  1. The PSHA was constituted by Ministerial Agreement N-255 on September 7, 2006, issued by the National Executive Secretariat of the Council for the Development of Nationalities and Peoples of Ecuador (CODENPE), based in Article 57 of the National Constitution, resulting from a prior decision the Shuar centres made for themselves in their General Assembly held on March 31, 2003. 
    Self-determination was at the core of the FICSH, as a pilot plan for autonomy, with the vision of forming a Territorial Constituency to protect our ancestral territory (according to our founding Statute). In our Life Plan (Plan de Vida), published in 2009, it was noted that the norms of the PSHA do not contravene the State of the FICSH. I currently serve as President and legitimate representative of the 47 Shuar centres in 6 associations, ancestrally located in the Cordillera del Cóndor, which constitute the PSHA.
  2. In this way, over the course of 20 years of PSHA exercising its self-determination, we functioned in harmony with FICSH. This was until last year, when Solaris Resources and its subsidiary Lowell Mineral Exploration managed to divide us, signing an agreement of intention in an effort to legitimize the Warintza mining project. Our centres and associations are not in agreement that any mining company invade our ancestral territory.
  3. The signing of the letter of intent or agreements by the president of FICSH, David Tankamash, does not represent the will and consent of all grassroots bases and, as such, goes against the statutes of the FISCH and the territorial jurisdiction of PSHA. FICSH's own leadership has rejected the signing of any agreement with Solaris.
  4. As a result, PSHA convened an extraordinary assembly with the presence of the associations and trustees of the Shuar Centres of the PSHA – including Yawi and Warints – and decided to become autonomous from FICSH, since we could not continue to support its process for decision-making that was unilateral and without consultation of its bases as it worked to advance the interests of Solaris-Lowell.
  5. This added to the strategies of division and rupture of the social fabric that Solaris and Lowell have carried out in PSHA territory.
  6. The people of Warints and Yawi are divided among themselves. A number of current and former leaders and their families, backed by the company, have tried to appear as though they have the unanimous support of the two communities in exchange for goods and privileges. But in reality these "benefit" programs only deepen the false notion that "we are poor" and that the company is "development.” [These programs] create social differences between families, they take advantage of the fact that government services do not reach communities, they prey on the expectations of the youngest people and sway their mentality towards one of accumulating “more wealth” –  when the real wealth is what [the companies] want to take: the land, our forests, our territory. Their attempts to "talk" with us have only been efforts to take advantage of our reputation and distort it.
  7. The Strategic Alliance and the "Warintza model" is not a great benefits program; it has been one of the company’s strategies that has provoked the most conflict between Shuar brothers, families, and communities in the area. This entity, created and financed by the company, is not a Shuar organization, nor is its coordinator a leader who represents us. This Alliance is another company employee, a parallel entity that does the work for free that was previously done at great expense by the "community relations officers.”
  8. The company has caused profound harm to our organization. In exchange for "projects and social benefits,” they want to destroy our territory, our PSHA organization, biodiversity, water, animals, health, and take our minerals. They say they "promise" to return the land, but it will be when they have taken all the Tarimiat Pujutait and those lands are left empty and barren.
  9. Since March 31, 2023, in an extraordinary assembly of the PSHA, this Governing Council was elected and sworn in with the collective mandate to continue defending our territory, carrying out the necessary legal actions at the national and international levels against both the mining companies who have come to create conflicts in our territories and against the authorities that do not respect our rights.
  10. We are aware that the world is changing, and our ways of life and culture are developing. We try to preserve our cosmovision, to move forward with the changes and to confront what encroaches on us. That is why we strive to promote other forms of entrepreneurship and economic development that do not destroy our principles, our territory and our lives, but these intrusions affect us internally; it is like a cancer that spreads if we do not stop it in time.

Given the aforementioned, we DECLARE the following:

First, we REJECT and DENOUNCE any communiqué or statement from Solaris Resources that attempts to discredit and distort our assembly’s decision-making practices. [The company] has used strategies to divide our communities, buying off leaders and causing conflict in between communities. Must we remind Lowell Exploration that in 2006, it signed an agreement in which it promised to stop its efforts to operate the project? It has not fulfilled this promise. Nevertheless, despite their strategies, we – collectively as the Shuar – have clear mandates to protect the territory. 

Second, we REJECT any illegitimate representation and illegal signing on the part of the FICSH that compromises the management of the resources of our land and territory.

Third, we publicly DENOUNCE any effort to intervene in our organization that may result from supposed cooperation agreements in our territory. The agreement of intent that was signed in November 2023 between Mr. Tankamash and Solaris-Lowell, with interventionist clauses such as the one that commits FICSH to change its statutes to allow for the “taking advantage of renewable and non-renewable resources in its territory” is nothing short of clear interference in the cosmovision and organizational practices of the communities. In the company’s press release, it says it is “foreign NGOs” who are not respecting collective decisions, referring to collaborators of the PSHA. But it is those – the foreign company Solaris Resources – that is buying the autonomy of our organization and requiring them to change even their own internal norms to advance their interests. 

Fourth, we REJECT any insinuation that we are not capable of making our own decisions regarding our opposition to mining and reject any effort to not recognize the validity of our collective resolutions. In PSHA, who makes decisions is the PSHA General Assembly, which has already decided to defend the territory.

Fifth, we DEMAND that the governments of Canada and Ecuador respect and enforce our collective rights, protected by the constitution and international treaties. We remind them that any agreement that has to do with the resources of our territory must first undergo a consultation and obtain our consent. 

Sixth, we URGE all media at the grassroots, local, national, and international levels and all of society to become directly informed and not to fall for fake news or photographs.  Therefore, we will be filing a complaint against a national media outlet who used the image of the president of the PSHA to confuse the public and attempt to show that we have reached an agreement with the company. PSHA does not sell its territory! PSHA did not negotiate with the foreign Canadian company Solaris-Lowell!

Seventh, we CALL UPON national and international human rights organizations to be aware of our situation, to provide us with protection and to pronounce themselves in favour of our people.

Eighth, we COMMUNICATE that we will exercise any legal recourse that is within our reach to enforce our rights in the face of any threat or violation committed by public or private persons or entities.

Sucúa, March 2024

Jaime Palomino


Attached file