BREAKING NEWS/ Javier Ramirez is new president of JUNIN!! JAVIER RAMÍREZ nuevo presidente de JUNIN

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By , December 14, 2015

El día sábado 12 de diciembre,  la comunidad de Junín eligió la nueva directiva en Asamblea General. Javier Ramírez, perseguido político del gobierno de Rafael Correa, ganó la presidencia. Dos otros compañeros que se oponen a la minería le acompañan en la directiva, de esta manera haciendo mayoría las personas que creen en otro tipo de desarrollo.

Hoy ganó la dignidad en Intag. El sentimiento compartido por las comunidades afectadas por la plaga de la minería es que “desde hoy las cosas cambian”.

Este nuevo capítulo de la lucha no será nada fácil. Junín necesitará tu apoyo.

This past Saturday, December 12, the community of Junin chose a new governing board in General Assembly. Javier Ramirez, politically persecuted by President Rafael Correa’s government won the presidency. Two other colleagues who oppose mining will accompany him on the board, thus giving majority to people who believe in another kind of development.

Today dignity won in Intag. The sentiment shared by the communities affected by the plague of mining is that ” from today on things will change.”

This new chapter in this very long struggle will not be easy. Junin will need your support.

Foto de Decoin.

Update New version of 21 reasons

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By , April 23, 2015

Twenty One Reasons Why Codelco Should Stay Out of Intag (updated)

Please see the 21 reasons below the photograph of the latest infamy

Apologies for the lapse.  Life has been intense lately (more than normal)

So, Javier went home, but the appeals court held that he should have served 12 instead of the 10 months the court sentenced him to (the same day he was sentenced he was released since he had already served the 300 days in jail unjustly).  Ah, justice in Ecuador!.  There is some legal wrangling which could last a couple of months which will make it legally impossible for the judicial system to actually arrest him and send him back to prison. Until this remedy is played out he is free and living with his family in Junin, as determined as ever to stop the mining project (SEE DECOIN’S FACEBOOK FOR UPDATES- Especially the Dragons in Eden album)

The company, while Javier was in jail, made progress and are close to starting exploration- if they haven’t already.  Yes, as to be expected,  they are violating all kinds of rights.  They have, for example, taken over part of the community forest reserve land used by tourism by the community and transformed it into a mining camp(SEE IMAGE BELOW). They are getting ready to drill close to pristine rivers and streams, will affect tourism, have built and or resurrected roads without environmental impact studies, and so forth and so on, ad nauseam.. But such is how Responsible Mining takes place in primary forests in a developing countries.  It can be summed up as: the hell with the laws and Constitution, mining at all costs.  And those costs keep piling up. Victor Hugo is still on the run, 375 days after the  sham accusations and mock judicial process.  Amnesty International, the International Human Rights Federation and now  have denounced the numerous and growing abuses by the state. Human Rights Watch is also investigating.

JUNIN COMMUNITY FOREST APRIL 4 2015 (Responsible Mining in action)

Junin campamento ocupado abril 2015 policias 1a Med res

                            Twenty-One Reasons Why Codelco should stay out of Intag

April 2015 

Two decades after the resistance to mining in Intag began against a large-scale mining project, which led to the expulsion of two transnational mining companies and the creation of sustainable alternative, Chile’s mining company Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, in conjunction with Enami, the Ecuadorian state-owned mining company, is ready to being exploratory activities in one of the world’s most threatened and biodiverse forests: Intag’s Toisan Range.

I think it disingenuous when companies say “we didn’t know”; or “had we only known”, or even lamer yet:  “had the government made it clearer that…”  then they try to weasel out of assuming responsibility for their catastrophic economic, social and environmental blunders.  This then, is an attempt to draw attention to some of the hurdles Codelco, or any mining company, would face if they tried to open up a mine in Intag.

Studies and more Studies.

To justify their existence in certain projects, mining companies, when  they can afford it, hire hot-shot NGO’s to carry out interviews and studies to ascertain popular perception on mining, identify key players, and confirm that they are loved. Then they actually go ahead and base their decisions on the study’s results!  Even though they know they are lies at worst, or at best, written to please the funders.  As if an area’s complexity and attitudes could be studied in a few days or weeks.

A Brand New Century.

If there’s anyone interested in investing in Intag’s mining project reading this, you probably know- or should know- as all responsible mining companies can attest to (as well as key players like the World Bank), that support from the Executive Branch of government is not nearly enough guarantee a project’s success. You need genuine (not manufactured or self-delusional) social license issued freely, without pressures or intimidation.  In fact, national government support is no guarantee at all the project will succeed. So, do NOT bank on the government’s enthusiastic endorsement.  You’ll lose. Big time.

I am positive that if most INVESTORS were find out about all the risks and obstacles facing mining in this corner of Ecuador, they would pull out.

This, then, is one more attempt to try to inform of the reality behind the lies and distortions being generated around the Junín mining project, and just 21 of the reasons why this project, as BN Americas pointed out in 2013, is bound to fail (click here).


  1. Based on the Bishi Metals Environmental Impact Assessment of mining in Intag, and on a small (450,000 ton) copper mine (a couple of years later they inferred the existence of 5x more copper)
  1. Intag is no like the Atacama desert, where Codelco has its copper mines. Besides being super biodiverse, there are communities all over the place. According to the Study, the mining project would relocate hundreds of families from four communities.  Afterwards, the Japanese found more five times more copper, which could increase the number of communities affected by two- at the very least. Relocation of communities is more than enough to stop most extractive projects.
  1. It would impact primary cloud forests.  What’s so special about cloud forests?  Less than 2.5% of the world’s tropical forests are cloud forests. They are not only exceptionally biologically diverse- as well as severely threatened-  but they play an outsize role in protecting important headwater watersheds.
  1. The project would cause massive deforestation(in the words of the experts preparing the Study). The small mine would directly impact 4,025 hectares.
  1. The deforestation, according to the Japanese, would lead to drying of local climate, affecting thousands of small farmers (the EIA used the worddesertification). You think communities will let this happen once they truly get the picture???
  1. Intag’s forests belong to the world’s top Biodiversity Hotspot; the Tropical Andes. The scientist working on the study identified 12 species of mammals and birds facing extinction that would be impacted by the project, including jaguars, spectacled bears, mountain tapirs and the brown-faced spider monkey. (Based on incomplete studies, Decoin identified more than 30 species of threatened or endangered plants and animals, and there could be dozens more).

Every year new species are found in Ecuador’s cloud forests, and this includes the spectacular Prince Charles frog, as well as the only carnivore discovered in the Western Hemisphere in the last 35 years.  In addition, the area has several other endemic species, such as the recently discovered Shape-shifting Rain Frog (Pristimantis mutabilis), and the Black-breasted Puffleg Hummingbird, which exists in only two patches of high altitude cloud forests- one of them located in Intag.

  1. There are pristine rivers and streams everywhere within the concession.  The EIA predicted they would be contaminated with lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium and other toxic substances.
  1. The project would, unquestionably, destroy pre-Incan Yumbo archeological sites.  This is one of the least studied cultures in Ecuador.

It would impact the Cotacachi-Capayas Ecological Reserve (one of the world’s most biologically diverse protected areas and the only large one in all of western Ecuador).

Besides these very worrying impacts identified in the Study (for a mine a fraction of what it could end up being)…  there are other significant hurdles.

Legal hassles

  1. Large-scale mining would violate the legally-binding Cotacachi County Ecological Ordinance created in 2000.  Only the Constitutional Court can rule on the validity of the Ordinance in light of the new Constitution. And the Court l has not.

Ecuador’s new Constitution demands that communities be consulted before any project impacting their social or natural environment takes place; a Constitutional guarantee that has been disregarded from day one. The Constitution also grants nature rights, and the people right to Sumak Kawsay, or a Good Life (also translatable as Harmonious Life) .  Good luck trying to convince a decent government and world opinion that open pit mining will not violate these two fundamental rights (no matter how obscenely the government decides to define the indigenous concept of a “Good Life”).  Just because a government does its best to distort the Constitution does not mean a future one will do the same.

Waning political support.

  1. One of the things the government likes to underline is that it has the area´s political support. As of February 2014 this is no longer true, as the president’s party, Alianza País, lost badly in local elections in Imbabura province, site of the mining project. In fact, Imbabura was one of the provinces where Mr. Correa’s party lost more municipalities (5 out of 6) than anywhere else in the country.   One of those Municipalities is the Cotacachi, which encompasses the Llurimagua mining concession. The new Mayor, Jomar Cevallos, is firmly opposed to mining.
  1. Opposition.

There is widespread opposition to the Intag mining project. This includes:

  1.  The new threat has actually mobilized more organization at the local, county and national level, than ever before.

Community Opposition. Many communities surrounding the mining project are still, after all these years, opposed to the project. There are some that seemingly have given their approval, though under duress and without any consultation whatsoever taken place. Proof of this is that on September and November 2013 the government tried to carry out an environmental impact study and were stopped by the communities- in spite of heavy police presence, and military in the area.

  1. Human Rights Violations.

After years of stopping dozens of attempts by government and private companies of accessing the mining concession that overlap communal land in order to carry out the environmental impact study and begin exploration, the government and Codelco only succeeded in carrying out the study in May of 2014 with the help of hundreds of police that terrorized the area for two months and violated rights, such as the right to freely circulate. To intensify the intimidation, a month earlier Javier Ramírez, president of the Junín community was arrested and jailed under highly irregular circumstances, which have been denounced by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, and The International Human Rights Federation, as well as several national human rights groups. Human Rights Watch is currently investigating the numerous human rights violations surrounding the Javier Ramirez case.  Javier was released after being sentenced in February of 2015 but only after serving 10 months in jail. His brother Victor Hugo remains in hiding accused of sabotage, the same criminal offense as his brother, for putting up resistance to the presence of Enami employees in their territory.

  1. 90% of NGO’s in Cotacachi County and Intag oppose the project. In late 2012, the most important civil society organizations in Intag wrote a letter to Chile’s president to make sure he understood that the organizations would again rise to defend the area if Codelco or anyone went ahead and tried to revive the project.  .


Exaggerated Copper Claims

15. In 2007, Micon International, the entity contracted by Ascendant Copper to evaluate the Junin copper deposit, said that it could not confirm their earlier estimates due to degradation of samples. Copper Mesa had been saying all along that the Junin copper deposit had four times more copper than what the Japanese inferred after years of exploration.   In all, 2.26 million tons were inferred by the Japanese, which is a little less than 1/10thof what the world consumes annually (and it would take decades to mine it all out).


Further environmental challenges

16. The area receives between 3000 and 4000 millimeters of annual rainfall. Heavy rainfall, abundant underground   aquifers, and heavy metals in the ore make for a deadly mix.  Not only that, but they raise the price of mining         considerably, while greatly increasing the risks of man-made disasters, such as landslides.  For an idea of what a   landslide can do in an open pit mine, gohere:


  1. The ore contains toxic heavy metals and sulfur (which will cause Acid Mine Drainage).


  1. There is a superabundance of underground water (according to Japanese EIA). This is bad news for mining companies and even worse news for the environment.


  1. The area where they found the copper is exceptionally steep and mountainous, making mining much more difficult and expensive than most mines.


  1. There are clear indications that Junín’s copper is very deep, making mining much more environmentally destructive and economically risky.  Emphasis on Economically risky.


  1. The Toisan Range has many geological faults, posing significant earthquake risks.


There are, in fact, more than 21 reasons for Codelco to stay out of Intag. But these should suffice for any company that considers itself responsible and to realize that Intag’s forests and inhabitants should be a no-go zone.


For more information contact Carlos Zorrilla at Decoin (


Further Reading

There are innumerable articles on this struggle, but a good place to begin is:


BnAmericas article here


Current information can be found at DECOIN’s Facebook page, but also in these sites:


La cárcel no termina lucha de activista Javier Ramírez

By , February 22, 2015

Título del artículo del Universo de hoy:   La cárcel no termina lucha de activista Javier Ramírez

The title of today’s El Universo newspaper reads:  Jail did not put and to the struggle for activist Javier Ramirez  (please translate with      or your favorite translator 

Favor lean el articulo y video de la entrevista con  Javier


Aunque la justicia en la provincia de Imbabura condenó a diez meses de cárcel por rebelión a Javier Ramírez, líder antiminero de Íntag, él afirma que continuará luchando por una zona libre de extracción minera.

El golpeteo de la copiosa lluvia contra los techoyos de zinc y teja inunda el pequeño poblado de Junín, ubicado en la parroquia García Moreno, cantón Cotacachi, en Imbabura. Son las 09:00 del 18 de febrero del 2015 y casi no hay adultos en la plaza central, a la que tienen frente las únicas doce casas y una iglesia, en el centro de la comunidad.

Los pocos niños que gritan de vez en cuando mientras juegan en el lodoso patio y unos cuantos gallos que desde la rama de un árbol parecerían intentar callar al correntoso río Junín, confirman que hay vida en aquel lugar, escondido entre una abundante vegetación subtropical.

Al líder antiminero del valle de Íntag, Javier Ramírez, la tranquilidad natural del lugar no le es extraña, lo que sí le inquieta, dice, es que ahora el silencio del caserío esté marcado por la división y el temor.

Fue lo que Ramírez percibió a pocos días de estar de vuelta en Junín, luego de cumplir una condena de diez meses en el Centro de Rehabilitación de Ibarra, acusado del delito de “sabotaje y terrorismo”.

La sentencia del Tribunal de Garantías Penales de Ibarra señala que los hermanos Ramírez, Javier y Hugo, junto con cinco personas más agredieron, en el sector de Chontal Alto, a cuatro funcionarios de la Empresa Nacional Minera (Enami-EP), que pretendían, el 6 de abril del 2014, difundir los alcances del proyecto Llurimagua, que busca explotar un potencial geológico de cobre-molibdeno de 318 millones de toneladas.

“Con el reconocimiento de los hechos, el informe de Criminalística, la pericia del médico legal, así como con los testimonios de los cuatro empleados de la empresa del Estado, su conducta (la de Javier Ramírez) se adecúa a lo dispuesto por la Ley, en tal sentido se le impuso 10 meses de prisión”, se estableció al final del proceso.

Javier Ramírez niega la acusación asegurando que él estuvo enfermo en su casa aquel día. Recuerda que los policías que lo detuvieron, el 10 de abril del año pasado en Nanegalito (Pichincha), jamás le mostraron una orden de detención, ni le informaron de lo que se le acusaba.

“Primero me dijeron que tenía un juicio de alimentos y solo fue hasta la madrugada del siguiente día en Otavalo (Imbabura) que me manifestaron que estaba detenido por terrorista”, afirma este dirigente de 38 años, mientras abraza cariñosamente a su hija Evelyn, de 10 años, la última de sus cuatro hijos.

Aunque los dos hermanos Ramírez fueron involucrados en el proceso, el Tribunal Penal, el 10 de febrero último, sentenció a diez meses por el delito de rebelión solo a Javier, Hugo está prófugo. Javier salió libre de inmediato. Él permaneció detenido el mismo tiempo que se le dio como sentencia.

Esta detención es calificada de “injusta”, incluso por habitantes de Junín, como Marcia Calvache, que están a favor de la explotación minera que harán la estatal Enami y la empresa chilena Codelco en la zona de Íntag. La mujer, de 33 años, asegura que el día de la agresión, Ramírez no estuvo en el lugar.

“Él siempre fue inocente”, afirma Calvache, cuyo esposo trabaja desde hace ocho meses en el proyecto Llurimagua. Ella, además, es parte del grupo de doce mujeres que se organizaron para brindar el servicio de alimentación a los trabajadores de la Enami.

La historia de oposición a la minería en Junín, al igual que en otras comunidades ubicadas en el valle de Íntag (Chontal, Chalguayacu Bajo y Alto…), se remonta, para los lugareños, a inicios de 1990, cuando la compañía japonesa Bishimetals y luego la canadiense Ascendant Copper realizaron trabajos de exploración en busca de cobre.

Desde finales del 2011, la Enami maneja la concesión de 4.839 hectáreas conformadas por bosques nublados primarios, secundarios, cultivos orgánicos y al menos 26 ríos, de los que dependen no solo las comunidades sino una serie de animales en riesgo como osos de anteojo, pumas o tapires de montaña.

De llegar a confirmarse el potencial del mineral en la zona, según la Enami, eso significaría que la mina a cielo abierto que se planifica sería una de las más importantes de la región.

La polarización que produce el tema minero ha superado la lucha con las autoridades y se instala en el interior de la comunidad de Junín. Ramírez afirma que el 70% de los poco más de 260 habitantes de la comunidad no quieren la minería; pero Anita Enríquez, quien depende económicamente de la Enami, dice que la mitad de la población está a favor de la actividad, incluidos tíos de Ramírez, y la otra mitad está en contra.

Ambos consideran que la detención del líder ecologista causó temor y generó que mucha gente que rechazaba la minería deje de hacerlo o –al menos– ya no hable de su posición.

La división no solo está entre los adultos. La pequeña hija de Ramírez también la ha sentido entre los que llama “ecologistas y mineros”. Ella cuenta que desde hace un tiempo se alejó de su mejor amiga, cuando descubrió que esta le contaba a sus padres –quienes están a favor de la minera– y ellos a su vez a gente de la Enami, lo que ella le decía sobre lo que sus padres pensaban de la minería.

En Junín, la gente prefiere no decir quiénes están con uno u otro lado. Una señal o un gesto es lo único que hacen para decir si alguien está con Ramírez o en contra. “Es mejor no meterse”, indica un habitante que prefiere no identificarse.

Al ya tenso ambiente que se vive en el poblado se suma, desde hace poco menos de ocho días, el patrullaje de policías montados a caballo.

Ramírez afirma que su idea de luchar por la naturaleza se fortaleció en estos meses de cárcel. Un efecto contrario, dice, de lo que pretendían “quienes armaron todo este teatro”.

Mientras retoma sus proyectos pendientes en su casa y en sus cultivos de café, Javier Ramírez está empeñado en difundir lo dañina que es la minería, para lograr que así la gente decida aprobarla o rechazarla, pero desde el conocimiento.(I)


2014, abril 06

La Enami denuncia la agresión física de pobladores contra cuatro de sus trabajadores, quienes ingresaban al sector de Chontal Alto para difundir el proyecto minero Llurimagua. Un vehículo de la empresa sufrió daños.

2014, abril 10

Policías detienen a Javier Ramírez en la zona pichinchana de Nanegalito. El líder antiminero regresaba de Quito junto a Polibio Pérez, líder de Chalguayacu Bajo, luego de una reunión originada por José Serrano, ministro del Interior.

2015, febrero 10

El Tribunal de Garantías Penales de Ibarra sentencia a Javier Ramírez, bajo el cargo de rebelión, a diez meses de prisión por los hechos ocurridos en Chontal Alto, el 6 de abril pasado. La pena no incluye a Hugo Ramírez, pues él se encuentra prófugo



Dear Codelco

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By , October 9, 2014

To Codelco’s Directors

Intag, 9 October 2014

Dear Codelco,

After reviewing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Llurimagua mining project, I got to wondering whether you know what you are getting into here in Ecuador, and if you had the slightest idea of the social conflicts and violence you could detonate if exploration starts.

Are you aware, for example, that the recently complete EIA for the mining project is woefully inadequate? The people doing it were obviously so pressed for time to get it done, that it is FULL of mistakes and omissions, rendering the study useless. I mean, how much correct information about the project can you possibly gather just in a few days of on-the- ground observations and sampling?  Especially in such a highly complex ecosystem as a primary cloud forest replete with pristine rivers and streams. The Study’s principal objective, after all, is to gauge the potential impacts that the advanced exploration activities could have on the social and natural environment and propose solutions to mitigate or avoid them.  As should be obvious to anyone minimally honest, you can’t do that if the information you are basing the solutions on is wrong, totally lacking or incomplete. If, as often happens with such studies, the intention of the authors or editors (who apparently worked for Codelco) was to go out of their way so as not present any inconvenient facts that might jeopardize the project, then the Study is dishonest and a sham.

In use of its attributes as a civil society actor, the Asamblea de Unidad Cantonal de Cotacachi (Cotacachi Assembly for County Unity), an umbrella organization made up of Cotacachi County’s most important civil society organizations, on October 7th turned in to the Ministry of the Environment approximately one hundred pages detailing some the Study’s major flaws, its mistakes and omissions, as part of the participatory process of reviewing the Study. I use the term ¨ some of the Study’s flaws’ because the 15 days given to the communities and civil society to review the over 1000 page EIA, was embarrassingly inadequate. Especially when considering that the Annexes were unavailable until just the last few days. Had we had more time to review the EIS, I’m sure we could have filled another 100 pages of mistakes.    In Chile, I understand, the time frame for civil society to study and comment on the information contained in Environmental Impact Assessments is 120 days. Here’s a perhaps a stupid question for you:  why did you not insist on the same standards here in Ecuador?  A process like this if not done in good faith, is a failed process.

Here’s another question: Would an Environmental Impact Study in Chile, regardless of the phase of mining activity it is prepared for, be prepared based on 12 days of on-the-ground observations and sampling during just one climatic period in the year? And, would a 1000 page Study have been put together in just three months? Keep in mind that, according to Ecuadorian legislation, the advanced exploration project classifies as a Category IV project, the most environmentally damaging of all, thus extra care should have been given to prepare the best possible study.

Let me illustrate what I mean about the poverty of the study with a couple of concrete examples, but please do take the time to study the detailed  Asamblea de Unidad Cantonal de Cotacachi document.

The authors of the study knew or should have known, that dozens of members from community of Junin and Chalguayacu Alto run a successful community ecotourism project, and that it owns and manages a 1,500 hectare forest reserve.  First of all, the first major blunder was that the authors did not consider the impact the exploration project would have on the business and community members taking part in the initiative, nor consider ways to avoid or minimize the  impacts. The omission also applies for the project’s impacts on tourism in general in Intag; it was never properly assessed.

Second, there is no doubt that the community forest reserve is within the mining concession.  However, the authors, or the editors of the Study who did not want people to know too much about the reserve, very briefly mentioned the existence of a ¨500 hectare Junin community reserve¨ just once in the 1000 plus page study, but did not specify where it was. It so happens that, after looking at the recently made available property-owner map in the Study’s Annexes (Mapa Catastral), that the community land is exactly where Codelco would like to drill the 90 exploration wells (now we know why the delay to make them available to the public)!  Yet, no one from either Codelco or Enami has taken the time to ask the owner’s permission to use, or rent the land.  Needless to say, we know what the answer would be, but does this key omission not put the whole exploration project in jeopardy?

If, as I suspect will happen, Codelco or its proxy, ENAMI, will claim that since the community has no legal title to part of the land, they cannot claim anything, it would be a huge mistake. A mistake which, given the conflicts in the past, will set off confrontations and very likely lead to violence and human rights abuses. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that if you lose the forests your ecotourism business depends on, you lose the business.  And people aren’t going to stand for that. People have lost their lives fighting for land rights right in Junin and countless other places around the world.

The law of the land in this part of the world states that if you use untitled land that you pay for, as the community did and has been doing since 1998 when DECOIN helped the community purchase the first properties in the mining area, then it is yours. Indeed, the law allows for squatters to gain lawful title to untitled land. I’m referring about just the part that is untitled: the community and business has title to most of their land. The fact that the community has been unable to title one part of the community forest reserve is because the government arbitrarily prohibited land titling within the mining concession. But that does not make it any less theirs, nor does it extinguish the passion for defending what they consider to be theirs.  You should take note that Ecuador’s Constitution gives its citizens the right to resist any action or omission that threatens their rights.

The authors of the Study inexplicably?,  completely omitted the fact that the Municipality of Cotacachi approved a County Ordinance in August of 2008 creating the 18,000 hectare Area Natural Toisan protected area. The Municipal protected area not only prohibits mining but encompasses most of the mining concession. How to explain such crucial omission given the fact that the section of the Study devoted to reviewing all the legal bodies affecting the project runs to 67 pages?  This is just one of many legal arguments that casts severe doubt on the project’s legality. There is a section on the Asamblea de Unidad de Cotacachi document that details the others.

And, while on the subject of Municipal Ordinances, while the authors of the study analyzed another of the County’s legal instruments, Cotacachi’s Ecological Ordinance, the review is very superficial, and left out one of the most important parts of the Ordinance: its prohibition of industrial activities that involve deforestation of native forests. As the Study reports, the mining site is very rich in primary forests, in spite of the authors going shamefully out of their way not to mention the P word.

The above are just a few examples of the hundreds of errors and omissions in the study you very likely funded, and edited, and which include a ridiculous picture of the popular support for the project.  Thus, in the sincere hopes of avoiding re-activating social conflicts that could lead to human rights abuses, I urge you to carefully read the Asamblea de Unidad Cantonal de Cotacachi  document, and rethink starting mining operations on such a wrong foot in Ecuador**.   Perhaps, who knows, you will come to the conclusion that your reputation is not worth the risks this project entails.

Before closing, I would like to draw your attention to something I think it’s worth reminding you of.  Tomorrow, Javier Ramirez, president of the Junin community, will have spent six months in an overcrowded jail.  During all this time the government was supposed to be gathering evidence to bring him to trial for as crime he could not have possibly have committed, violating Javier’s most fundamental right to justice and a number of his Constitutional Rights. However, everyone knows that the real reason he is in jail is to pressure the community to accept mining, and to intimidate the opposition. For many, Javier Ramirez is a political prisoner. In a country where the Constitution proclaims that jail should only be used for exceptional cases, it’s not hard to see why.

Why this should be relevant to you is because people in Intag have no doubt whatsoever that the real reason Javier is in jail and his brother Victor Hugo avoiding arrest is, indirectly, because of CODELCO. Even though the persons who accused Javier of hitting them are ENAMI employees (causing only minor injuries), everyone knows that it is CODELCO who can put a stop to the injustice.  Tomorrow. If you wanted to.

If, in the end, the mining project fails and you abandon the Llurimagua project, at least you leave with your reputation intact and the knowledge of having done something right in Intag.

I thus urge you to put human rights over economic gain and not take a chance of being part of a project so beset with illegalities, human rights abuses and dishonesty.

Thank you.


Carlos Zorrilla

** you can ask for a copy of the analysis from  the Asamblea de Unidad Cantonal at and from DECOIN at  (Decoin is a member of the Asamblea and helped draw up the analysis)


I also suggest you read Twenty One Reasons Codelco Should Stay Away from Intag at


The Report on Human Rights Abuses connected to the May 2014 police action can be accessed here:;postID=9126156696743719567;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=0;src=postname




Terrorismo en Intag?

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By , July 16, 2014

Mina de cobre Peru Cerro Verde crp

Mina de Cobre Cerro Verde, Perú


(Terrorismo en Intag)

Crónicas del extractivismo neocolonial contemporáneo

Horacio Machado Aráoz


1.- Luego de varios viajes al Ecuador, es la primera vez que estoy personalmente en la zona de Intag. Sus montañas, de una belleza conmovedora y generosidad exuberante, vienen dando que hablar bastante en las últimas décadas. Yo escuché de ellas allá por 2005, cuando empezaba las investigaciones para mi tesis doctoral. Me enteré por entonces de uno de los primeros y más fuertes conflictos provocados por la nueva ola de fiebre mineral que se desató desde la última década del siglo pasado en América Latina. La lucha de las comunidades campesinas de Intag contra la Bishi Metals (empresa minera japonesa ligada al holding de Mitsubishi Corporation) en 1997 y más tarde contra la Ascendant Copper Co. (canadiense) en 2002, sería no sólo una de las pioneras, sino también emblemáticas en la defensa de los sistemas de vida locales, amenazados por las crecientes pretensiones extractivistas. Muchas otras resistencias contra mega-proyectos mineros en la región, se inspirarían más tarde en la valentía de esas comunidades al enfrentar y finalmente expulsar a esas grandes corporaciones, que ya en aquellos años supieron desplegar todo el arsenal de violencia diversificada que les es característico: donaciones y persecuciones, sobornos a líderes locales y dirigentes políticos, agresivas campañas mediáticas prometiendo el “desarrollo” y “nuevos empleos”, y hasta el amedrentamiento y las balas de fuerzas parapoliciales… Nada de eso pudo quebrantar entonces la férrea convicción de esas comunidades; para ellas era claro que ninguna promesa de “desarrollo” y de “oportunidades de enriquecimiento” era siquiera comparable a las riquezas, bellezas y bienestar que ellos ya disfrutaban y cultivaban con sus sistemas de vida. Antes que se transformara en un potente concepto político extendido a lo largo y a lo ancho de Nuestra América, antes de que la cartografía de los imaginarios políticos se viera sacudida por la emergencia de un nuevo horizonte emancipatorio condensado en la voz quecha de Sumaj Kawsay, esas comunidades de Intag ya sabían de qué se trataba el BUEN VIVIR… Ellos viven, practican, cultivan y disfrutan del Buen Vivir. Ya desde entonces, ellos saben que ese Buen Vivir nace y depende de sus montañas; han aprendido, por tanto, muy bien que el “desarrollo” es la principal amenaza, el arma más poderosa que apunta, hoy por hoy, contra el Buen Vivir…
2.- Estoy por primera vez en esa políticamente densa zona de Nuestra América que es Intag. Me encuentro en medio de una reunión de vecina/os de distintas localidades y pueblitos que se llegaron –no fácilmente- a la sede de la cooperativa de tamberos de Chalguayacu Alto. Más que los obstáculos del relieve, debieron esforzarse para pasar los “filtros” que los cuerpos de la policía nacional han instalado en los caminos para controlar e impedir, según los casos, el tránsito de la/os vecina/os por sus propios caminos… Veo rostros de aflicción; las voces suenan trémulas; como apagadas; unas como ahogadas en el dolor y la desesperanza; otras intentando contener tanta rabia y tanta indignación… Un vecino cuenta el estado de desesperación de la esposa de Javier Ramirez Piedra, presidente electo de la comunidad de Junín, detenido en condiciones irregulares (por decir lo menos) desde el 10 de abril de 2014 bajo los cargos de “rebelión, sabotaje y terrorismo”; es que lo que se creía una medida intimidatoria extrema pero de corta duración, ya va para largo: más de tres meses de detención, sumando arbitrariedades judiciales, unas tras otras… Otra vecina comparte el estado de angustia de su hija adolescente: “Nidia”, de trece años, tiene desde hace unas semanas trastornos de sueño y digestivos; padece de insomnio, y de noche, despierta sollozando; de día, le acompaña un estado de náuseas y vómitos… No quiere ir a la escuela; siente temor de tener que atravesar las propias calles del pueblo donde nació, ahora surcadas y ocupadas por numerosos policías, uniformados, de civil, y hasta con el torso desnudo. Están ahí, exhibiendo la “presencia del Estado”, haciendo saber que están ahora controlados y vigilados; lo escuchan y lo ven todo; que ellos son la fuerza, la razón y la ley. Están, unos acampando en las escuelas y otros, “alquilando” camas a vecinos a razón de 10 dólares la noche, a modo de “adelanto” de la prosperidad que traerá la minería… Ya las primeras voladuras han sido detonadas; no todavía en los cerros, sino en el tejido social de la comunidad. El dinero ofrecido es más ácido que el drenaje de mina: dinamita los vínculos y las relaciones; produce fracturas prácticamente irreversibles. Por qué aceptar la limosna estatal; por qué oponerse a lo que parece “inevitable”; dejarse vencer y traicionar a la comunidad; darse cuenta a tiempo y “aprovechar lo que sea posible”: las acusaciones cruzadas surcan los territorios de solidaridades históricas… Y con esas primeras grietas se “cuela” el poder de fuego de la voracidad extractivista en ciernes…

3.- Quién hubiera pensado unos pocos años atrás que el gobierno nacido y construido bajo el espíritu revolucionario del proceso constituyente que legara no sólo al Ecuador, ni sólo a Nuestra America, sino a la humanidad toda, la Constitución de Montecristi (2008), quien hubiera imaginado que ese gobierno terminara luego persiguiendo, judicializando, criminalizando y reprimiendo a los defensores de los Derechos de la Naturaleza. Más todavía, un gobierno que ejerce el poder en nombre de una supuesta “revolución ciudadana” acusando de terroristas a “simples” campesina/os, cafetalera/os, agricultora/es, criadores de vacas, de frutas, de ríos y de bosques, simplemente porque quieren seguir manteniendo y cuidando sus sistemas de vida, la salud y vitalidad de sus territorios; simplemente porque no quieren saber nada con una minería que no tiene nada que ver con ellos, con sus modos de producir y habitar sus montañas: porque la tecnología es extraña, como extraños son los motivos y los fines de la explotación; porque el cobre es deseado por otros y para otros; porque los caminos y la infraestructura, serán para usufructo de la “empresa”… Porque nada de lo que ofrecen compensará las pérdidas… Y hacer la voluntad de lo extraño en el propio territorio, produce extrañamiento, alienación ecobiopolítica.

Las comunidades de Intag lo saben y por eso se oponen. Esa oposición los ha convertido en enemigos declarados de la “causa nacional”, la nueva ola desarrollista que sopla ahora bajo los discursos grandilocuentes de la “revolución ciudadana”. Extraña revolución, que se parece tanto a las formas y los modos de una dictadura; extraña apelación a la “ciudadanía”, cuando los que salen a las calles a expresar su voluntad son perseguidos y judicializados; cuando las propias autoridades electas son acusadas de “terrorismo” por intentar cumplir el contrato político con sus electores…. Javier Ramirez Piedra es, como me lo describen sus vecinos, “un campesino honrado, pacífico y solidario”, comprometido desde siempre con la defensa de esa parte de la Cordillera de Toisán que es hoy su hogar. En reconocimiento precisamente a su honestidad y compromiso, ha sido electo presidente de la comunidad de Junín. En


cumplimiento de su “mandato electoral” ha participado y apoyado las manifestaciones populares contra el ingreso de la ENAMI (Empresa Nacional de Minería) a la zona. Esta empresa, creada por Rafael Correa, para arremeter en la zona con el proyecto Llurimagua, de explotación de cobre en casi 5000 hectáreas, en alianza con la transnacional chilena, oneroso legado de la dictadura de Pinochet, la CODELCO, procura ahora “revestir” de presuntamente “nacional” una explotación que por sus características, condiciones, modalidades y objetivos, es, más que transnacional, de carácter insoslayablemente (neo)colonial.

Javier Ramirez ha sido acusado de “rebelión, sabotaje y terrorismo” presuntamente por participar en una manifestación de vecinos que intentaron impedir el paso de agentes de la ENAMI a iniciar una nueva exploración de la zona. Desde el 10 de abril hasta la fecha permanece detenido. El 8 de mayo de este año, empleados de la ENAMI ingresaron a la fuerza, a la zona de Intag, escoltados por un cuerpo de 250 policías y fuerzas especiales anti-motines, en más de 30 vehículos policiales y acompañados por el gobernador de Imbabura. En su cuenta de Twitter, la ENAMI publicó la “noticia” con un lacónico y cínico comentario: “Una entrada pacífica y con apoyo de la comunidad a la zona de Llurimagua. Mineria Responsable”… Para más, esos policías ingresaron para no salir: han hecho de Junín y sus alrededores un territorio literalmente ocupado. Controlan y administran a su propio antojo y arbitrio no sólo el ingreso de “externos y foráneos” a la región, sino incluso, el propio tránsito de los mismos vecinos entre pueblo y pueblo. El 14 de junio pasado, el día antes de mi llegada a la zona, las comunidades de la región decidieron reunirse en Cotacachi y emprender una caravana en solidaridad con Junín y con su presidente detenido y en defensa de Intag. Se congregaron más de 400 personas en la plaza. El alcalde de Cotacachi, los concejales y funcionarios municipales, vecinos de localidades vecinas, vieron sin embargo, frustradas sus intenciones: la Policía Nacional les negó el paso en nombre de las medidas de seguridad tomada por el “Operativo Nacional Intag”, bajo órdenes directas del Ministerio del Interior, según respondieron… Ese sábado 14 de junio, la prepotencia estatal ejercida bajo el discurso legitimador de “revolución ciudadana” aplastó toda pretensión de mínima de ciudadanía; cobró las formas y los gestos de la más tosca dictadura. Ese día quedó claro que desde abril por lo menos a esta parte, Intag pasó a estar bajo un régimen de estado de sitio de facto.

4.- Yo llegué a Intag al otro día, de ese soberano atropello a la voluntad popular. El domingo 15 de junio era un día especial para todo Ecuador: ese día no sólo se festejaba el día del padre, sino que además debutaba la selección en el mundial de fútbol contra Suiza. Mientras en todo el país se vivía un clima de fiesta, en la zona de Intag predominaba un ambiente de terror. El terror alude no sólo a un estado fisiológico que se apodera de los cuerpos, sino también a un estado social donde las prácticas y las relaciones se hallan bajo el dominio del miedo y la angustia. Eso era lo que veía y percibía en cada rostro y en cada palabra que intercambiaba con la/os pobladores de la zona. La empresa minera, la ENAMI, como es del protocolo de sus políticas de fabricación de “consenso”, organizó un festejo para los padres, pero fueron muy pocos. Las calles estaban habitadas por el silencio y la mirada vigilante de patrulleros y policías de a pie. La gente, en la reunión convocada para hablar de la marcha frustrada del día anterior, hablaba bajito y mirando para el suelo… El miedo se percibía en el silencio y en los gestos. El proceso de “socialización” minera ya ha empezado; el clima de angustia y de terror es uno de sus primeros efectos/resultados. Pareciera ser que lo que no lograron años atrás grandes empresas extranjeras, ahora sería factible bajo la fachada de una “empresa nacional” que, encima, actúa con todo el poder de un gobierno que dice haber dejado atrás la larga noche neoliberal y gobernar ahora en nombre del “socialismo del siglo XXI” y la “revolución ciudadana”… Extraña situación en la que los nuevas administraciones progresistas y o de izquierda vienen ahora a continuar la agenda y los planes de gobierno que no pudieron ejecutar y completar los “neoliberales”… Extraña situación en la que las poblaciones que actúan en defensa de los principios de la Constitución de Montecristi, los defensores de los Derechos de la Madre Tierra, son ahora perseguidas y acusadas bajo el cargo de “terrorismo”; donde los “terroristas” viven literalmente aterrorizados por los atropellos del Estado… Es que así es la ecuación de la gobernanza neocolonial del extractivismo: el “desarrollo” minero, desde sus primeros pasos, desde la etapa de la “exploración”, no puede avanzar sino por medio de la fabricación e implantación de un estado social y corporal de terror… Bajo ese régimen está hoy Intag. El terrorismo extractivista –que pareciera más peligroso aún bajo los ropajes del “progresismo desarrollista”- está asfixiando las esperanzas y semillas del Buen Vivir que hay ahí guardadas en la cordillera de Toisán. Esa zona que fue pionera y emblema en la lucha por el Buen Vivir, pionera en la defensa de los Derechos de la Madre Tierra, y madre de tantas otras luchas semejantes en Nuestra América, está hoy bajo amenaza; literalmente sitiada; bajo estado de excepción… Precisa, hoy, de nuestras miradas y de nuestro corazón, de nuestra comprometida atención y apoyo… Allí en Intag se está librando una batalla clave por la revolución civilizatoria del Buen Vivir.

Horacio Machado Aráoz. Investigador del Conicet, Argentina

Rebelión ha publicado este artículo con el permiso del autor mediante una licencia de Creative Commons, respetando su libertad para publicarlo en otras fuentes.

Intag bajo Estado de Terror. Crónicas del extractivismo neocolonial en Ecuador



Earth Day 2014- Sumak Kawsay, a New Conservation Force, or a Farce

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By , April 22, 2014

I wrote this knowing a friend and activist from Junin is illegally being kept in jail for defending his land, his community, the unique environment of Intag’s Cloud Forest, and fundamental human rights.  The criminalization of the social protest here in Ecuador- most of it aimed at environmental protesters-  has taken a nasty turn lately, with the illegal dissolving of a well-known NGO, the president of Ecuador publicly insulting activists in nationally televised addresses, and now the outrageous arrest of Javier Ramirez, from Junin.    Here’s for a wiser Earth Day 2015!

Sumak Kawsay: A Powerful Conservation Force or Farce?

Carlos Zorrilla*

When I first thought about writing about Sumak Kawsay I was wary of adding to the plethora of ideas surrounding this indigenous concept.  Yet, I changed my mind when I saw how little is being said about its potential role in the conservation of the environment, and how it is being grossly distorted by the government in Ecuador.

But, let’s start at the beginning.  Sumak Kawsay is a Quechua term.  Quechua is the language spoken by approximately 10 million people of the Andean countries of South America. It was spread by Inca conquest during and 15th and early part of the 16th century.  The simplest definition of Sumak, is good.  Kawsay, translates to Life or living. Thus, Sumak Kawsay, in the most straightforward interpretation, means Good Life, or Good Living. In Spanish it is often translated as “Buen Vivir”, or “Vivir Bien”; the latter means “Living Well”

Although there is a fascinating diversity of perceptions of what Sumak Kawsay means, the following one, in my opinion, sums up many of the ideas of both academics and indigenous that gave rise to the concept and enriched its meaning:

In its most general sense, buen vivir denotes, organizes, and constructs a system of knowledge and living based on the communion of humans and nature and on the spatial-temporal harmonious totality of existence. That is, on the necessary interrelation of beings, knowledges, logics, and rationalities of thought, action, existence, and living. This notion is part and parcel of the cosmovision, cosmology, or philosophy of the indigenous peoples of Abya Yala (Walsh 2010: 18).1

The concept was incorporated into Ecuador’s new Constitution in 2008. A slightly different Quechua version was included in Bolivian’s Constitution the following year.   In all Sumak Kawsay, or its Spanish translation, is mentioned 25 times in Ecuador’s Constitution.  Most importantly, it is mentioned in the Constitution’s prologue in the context of the country wanting to create “a new form of citizen coexistence, in diversity and harmony with nature, to achieve “living well”, Sumak Kawsay”.  The concept has its own chapter with 25 articles describing to Ecuadorians their basic rights associated with it, but no clear definition is given. The rights include the right to live in a healthy environment, rights to education, access to water, freedom of association, and access to health.  All good so far, but if this this sounds fantastic let’s bear in mind what another one of our intellectuals points out:   “Latin America has a long history of seeking judicial perfection without sweating over enforcement”1In the case of Ecuador it turns out not much official sweating at all, and much distortion.

The concept, or the government’s version of it, has so taken over the imagination of officials that it is repeatedly used to the point of obnoxiousness. So much so, that more and more critics say it has almost completely lost its value as a conservation force, or as a viable alternative to the dominant development paradigm.  Not a day goes by in Ecuador that one does not hear of a government Sumak Kawsay plans, forums (both here and abroad), project, schools, or institution being inaugurated or presented.  The idea so captivated officials that it was inserted into the government’s National Development Plan; now called: Plan Nacional para el Buen Vivir.  Needless to say, the Plan holds impressive contradictions, including promoting large-scale mining as a way of achieving Sumak Kawsay (in fact the slogan for the state-owned mining company is “Mining for Living Well” ).   But, as another critic pointed out, the 450 page-long National Development Plan is little more than an elegant poem.

Thus it is that the government, rightly, has been repeatedly accused of using it as a mere marketing gimmick to promote its glorious “Citizen’s Revolution” rather than taking it seriously and sweating over how to best guarantee people’s right to Sumak Kawsay: a living well not based on a economistic-materialist vision of life and living, as it is being executed in real life in Ecuador, but one based on cultural understandings of what that living well means. Given that Ecuador is a Pluri-cultural state- so recognized in the Constitution, it implies that there manifold visions of living well.  Monopolizing the concept means killing the whole thing dead as dead can be. Thou Shalt Live Well according to a government’s vision of Sumak Kawsay simply will not work and is colossally oxymoronic in places like Ecuador. And, more and more the vision of the government is very much like the capitalist vision and one based on going full speed ahead with opening the whole country to extractive industries.

The opening up of the Yasuní National Park to oil development as well as its aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in environmentally sensitive areas where it is rejected by communities is often used to point out just a couple of the government’s gross distortion of the concept and impressive incoherence. The more so because within the Yasuní National Park two indigenous groups live in volunteer isolation from the computerized air-conditioned nightmare known the world over as the “Good Life”, and want nothing to do with oil development.

Where does conservation and Sumak Kawsay fit into all this?  Believe it or not, there is a positive side to Sumak Kawsay; and it is one that most indigenous people and more and more campesino communities are taking to heart.

If you look back to the original inspiration for the concept, it comes in great part (and ironically enough) from the example of a few indigenous communities fighting to protect their land, their rights, their environment  and their  culture from the impacts of extractive development as embodied by mining and petroleum companies.  In this context, the decades-old struggle of the Amazonian community of Sarayaku against petroleum development played a key role in inspiring the concept2,3. However, some of the individuals responsible for lobbying for its inclusion in the Constitution insist that the concept is based on much more than the Andean or Amazonian cosmovisions, and encompasses indigenous as well as non-indigenous concepts from other cultures that support a healthier man-nature relationship, social peace, justice, and equality1,3.

When indigenous leaders are asked what Sumak Kawsay means to them, the terms most often used are: co-existence, reciprocity, solidarity, healthy ecosystem, social peace, communal existence, equality, and plentitude4,6.  Harmony is often present in their narrative, and it involves harmonious relations not just with Mother Nature, but also with one’s community and one’s self. Harmony within the community is stressed in most accounts. Thus, anything that would risk upsetting that harmony is rejected. Note that neither economic wealth nor material accumulation are mentioned in these accounts. This is one of the reasons the concept has been seized by academics and intellectuals (city-dwelling white guys mostly) who see it as an alternative model of development to capitalism’s depredation42,3,4.  It is worth noting the contradiction of the government policies

Whether Sumak Kawsay is an alternative vision only to capitalism is open to debate but, nevertheless, I am sure most indigenous cultures would agree with the concept’s anti-capitalist and anti-extractivism connotations.

We’ll leave the fine points of the argument to academics, but what is happening is that more and more the Sumak Kawsay is being taken up by both indigenous and non-indigenous communities who are defending their rights against the onslaught of extractivism. And, it has been the indigenous movement in Ecuador who were the first to transform it into a powerful force to stop the plundering of their resources, territories and cultures. But the concept is equally being used by any group that see a healthy environment (both social and natural) as an essential ingredient to a good life.  Simply expressed: how can a government guarantee the people’s right to Sumak Kawsay if the projects it promotes endangers the fundamental principles of the concept?

Intag is an example of non-indigenous community’s use of Sumak Kawsay. The struggle against mining development in Intag will be 20 years old this coming January. Even though the term is not widely used in Intag, Intag’s success is partly due to the opposition being able to create a vision of development that excludes mining, and linking that vision to a healthy or “good life”..  Our emphasis has been that well-being (Sumak Kawsay), is much, much more than just having more money or things like a bigger home, first-rate roads or better higher education.  It is centered on correctly valuing natural, social wealth and cultural wealth, and includes living in a healthy environment, having safe sources of water, harmony in the communities and strong social cohesiveness. Economic wealth is not left out of the picture- and the opposition to mining has been able to create a series of sustainable economic activities, such as shade-grown coffee production and community ecotourism (to mention just two of many).  In this vision of life, economic wealth is not shunned, but it is not the guiding principle of life. Community health is much more important, as is a healthy environment.  In effect, and without knowing of its existence, what the opposition in places like Intag has been fighting for all these years is to uphold the right to Sumak Kawsay.  The fact that it is now recognized as a fundamental Constitutional gives them another tool to aid their struggle.

This emerging vision of upholding a community’s right to a “good life” was confirmed in a 2012 study carried out in Intag in which 600 women were interview by other local women with the objective of finding out their perceptions on social, economic, environmental and other issues5.  In the report, published last year, women felt that clean water was indispensable for their vision of a good life, and that the conservation of forests was of vital importance.  In fact, 98.8% of the women thought Intag’s forests should be conserved, and that they were essential to guarantee safe water. In addition, over 70% of the women rejected mining as a development option.

At least in Intag, what the report shows is that the basic principles of Sumak Kawsay is alive and well in Intag, and the area’s forests and other natural resources stand a real chance of being conserved. What stands in the way is the government’s version of the concept, which does not value diversity (both cultural and natural) and is intolerant of other versions but its own of what living well means.  And that translates to, among other things, pushing oil and mining projects in areas that are anything but apt for those activities, and where most of the population is opposed to them.

This divergence of visions has caused numerous clashes between the Correa government and indigenous and campesinos communities all over Ecuador, which in many cases has led to human rights violations and criminalization of the protest. Over 200 indigenous and campesinos have been criminalized for defending their rights to Living Well during the seven year reign of the Correa government.  And, this is where the farcical side of Sumak comes in.

The latest case of criminalization of the protest came just in April of this year when the young campesino leader from Intag and father of four, Javier Ramirez, was jailed accused of roughing up a Ecuadorian mining company official, which allegedly took place during a protest to keep the Junín mining project from proceeding. While in police custody, Javier was charged with two other crimes:  Sabotage and Terrorism; crimes that carry 10 or more years prison terms. However, Mr. Ramirez was at his home at the time of the alleged confrontation nursing a swollen knee and under doctor’s orders for complete rest. But that matters little. What matters is that that he is the president of the community of Junín, which has been defying an open-pit mining project for nearly 20 years.  He is currently serving a 90 day jail term in a prison, and sharing a very small cell with dozens of murderers and rapist while the investigation proceeds to see if he really was at the scene of the alleged crime and is guilty of what he is accused of6.  Keep in mind that Ecuador’s “wondrous” Constitution considers jail only in exceptional circumstance, and that Javier was not afforded his right to defense when accused and before the arrest warrant was issued.  This is part of the Ecuadorian Miracle most outsiders never get to see.

So much for Sumak Kawsay….

*Carlos Zorrilla lives full time in a farm in Ecuador’s Intag region with his family, and is one of the founding members of DECOIN, a small grass-roots organization that has taken part in the resistance to mining in Intag since its founding, in 1995.

References…. There is a hell of a lot out there on Sumak Kawsay.  The sooner the people on the ground write about it the better.

  1. El concepto de sumak kawsay (buen vivir) y su correspondencia con el bien común de la humanidad/ François Houtart
  2. Good Life As a Social Movement Proposal for Natural Resource Use: The Indigenous Movement in Ecuador.

Philipp Altmann, Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany

  1. El Buen Vivir. Sumak Kawsay, una oportunidad para imaginar otros mundos. Alberto Acosta.  2013
  2. Sumak Kawsay Yuyay: Antología del Pensamiento Indigenista sobre Sumak Kawsay. 2014
  3. Encuesta de la coordinadora de mujeres de Intag. Coordinadora de Mujeres de Intag. 2012
  4. You can read more about this case at:, and

Enami and Codelco want to revive the nightmare by September // Codelco y Enami quieren reactivar la pesadilla en Intag hasta Septiembre

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By , April 1, 2014

Title of article from March 29 Wall Street Journal

Ecuador Mining Project Expected to Begin This Year

Codelco, Enami Plan to Start Exploration at Llurimagua Copper and Molybdenum Project by September

So, the cat is out of the bag.  Codelco and Enami think they can begin exploration by September when they haven’t even started on the Environmental Impact Study. But no worry: The spokesperson for Enami claim the EIA will be approved by September.  The Farce has begun.

Do they honestly think they can fool the world into believing they can do a decent Environmental Impact Study in such a short time in such a wildly biodiverse area with so many mammal and other species facing extinction?  Do they and their funders realize that mining does not figure in any of the local government’s Land Use and Development Plans?

 Then there is the small problem of consultation. Consultation, to be legal, has to  be carried out BEFORE the start of activities that may impact a community’s environment. It is a Constitutional right.

 If there is no consultation- and  there has not been any type of consultation– the exploratory activities will be illegal and unconstitutional. The communities will not be amused by this very fundamental right being violated. Say what they or the government will say, exploration impacts the natural environment, especially the habitat they will be exploring.  It also impact the community’s social environment. 

 Seeing as there is no consensus from the main communities within the mining area or immediately adjacent to it, the companies presence will set off a whole new phase of conflicts, affecting not only the people’s Constitutional right to live in a culture of peace (Art. 3)  and Sumak Kawsay (Good Life ) (Art. 14), but also damming the project from the start. 

 In order to avoid conflicts, DECOIN is asking the central government to institute a six month moratorium and give the newly elected local government officials time to look over the plans for the Junin mining concession and, in conjunction with the communities most affected, take the necessary decisions.  It should not be left to the outgoing pro-government administrations, which lost all mayorships and the prefecture in the province of Imbabura.


 Enami  ANUNCIÓ que juntamente con Codelco iniciarán la exploración del yacimiento Llurimagua este Septiembre.  

Título del artícul publicado el 29 de marzo en el Wall Street Journal

 Es de conocimiento público que ni la Enami ni Codelco hay siquiera iniciado el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental…  Tampoco se ha realizado la Consulta previa al inicio de activides que puedan impactar el ambiente de las comunidades- un derecho Constitucional.  La comunidad de Junin la más afectada, ha dicho una y otra vez que rechaza todo tipo de minería, actitud que ha sido una constante desde 1995 cuando el conflcito minero inició en Intag.  

 La Decoin considera que la presencia de las empresas mineras en Intag sin la aprobación de las comunidades dentro de la concesion minera será una provocación flagrante, que probablemente llevará a nuevos conflictos entre empresa- comunidades, y entre comunidades.  Esto violaría varios derechos constitucionales, incluyendo el derecho al Buen Vivir , Sumak Kawsay, el derecho a vivir en una cultura de paz (art. 3), entre otros.    Seguramente el gobierno dirá que la exploración no causa impactos al ambiente- otro de los muchos cuentos chinos que cualquier persona decente involucrada en la minería sabe que es falso.  Por otro lado, el ambiente social es parte del entorno de las comunidades, y será impactado por la ingrata presencia de las empresas.  Dada la historia de enfrentamientos entre comunidad-empresa por la presencia inconsulta de empresas mineras en Intag que data de 1995, si el gobiern insiste en impulsar la minería en Intag, los conflictos serán inevitables. 

 La DECOIN hace un llamado para que los autoridades políticas provinciales, cantonales y Parroquiales recientemente electas soliciten una moratoria urgente al gobierno nacional de no menos de seis meses hasta que  las nuevas autoridades tengan tiempo de estudiar detalladamente el proyecto y sus impactos, y, juntamente con las comunidades más afectadas tomen una decisi[on sobre el inicio de la exploración.

 Cabe señalar que la minería no es contemplada dentro de los Planes de Desarrollo y Ordenamiento Territoriales de ninguna de los planes de los gobiernos locales la provincia, y que en las últimas elecciones el gobierno nacional perdió todas las alcaldías en Imbabura, al igual que la prefectura- incluyendo la alcaldía del Cantón Cotacachi, donde se ubica el proyecto minero JUNIN, hoy denominado Llurimagua

original (ingles)


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By , March 19, 2014

Tis time for a quick Update

DECOIN expanded board meets

All quiet on the mining front

The final election results

Yesterday (March 18th)  DECOIN’s expanded board met at Nangulvi to talk about the latest event, review our work, and set new goals. In all there were 21 of us from I think 10 or 15 communities and four large organizations. We had hoped to change the board but decided to wait until we could hold an Assembly with more friends and supporters.   Some new-and young- faces from Irubi, a community we have a couple of projects, with was refreshing to see.

The meeting started with Decoin members heading the different projects giving summaries of the work they are carrying out, including:  creation of Community Reserves by Armando Almeida and Silvia Quilumbango, Environmental Education by Freddy Villalba and Milton Arcos (about 27 communities/ unfortunately, Marcia, the third educator, could not make it),  and reforestation and community fruit and tree nursery in Irubi. Meanwhile,  I talked about the current situation with the mining threat and what we are doing about it, and updated everyone on the slander campaign by the president of Ecuador against me and Decoin (see previous posts).

The reports on the different DECOIN activities were well received  by everyone, and all agreed we need to keep expanding on the activities reported on. Everyone saw the need to focus more on environmental education at all levels.  This will be a challenge, as sometimes there’s very little funding for this activity (especially given the need).  We were also asked if DECOIN could again help pay for transportation costs for the kids to get to the different high school- a significant need for the communities (expenditure of  thousands of dollars  for this every year). We said we would try but that it was difficult to focus on this when the government is still breathing Intag’s neck on the mining front…. So, if you are interested in helping out for this particular need, please get in touch 

A quick parenthesis is in order: After recent  land purchases, thanks to “GEO schützt den Regenwald e.V.” , Rettet den Regenwald and Rainforest Concern, we are nearing 11,000 hectares of community watershed and forest reserves in hands of  communities and local governments.

On the mining front, not much activity lately.  I suppose the central government is mulling over numbers and evaluating the new state of things after the election.  And, say what they will, the election was disastrous for Correa’s party.

Final Election Results    The government party lost in all but one county where there is large-scale mining/ including Cotacachi, where Intag is, besides losing in 9 of Ecuador’s 10 biggest cities- including the capital, Quito. In our province, they also lost the Prefecture, which is the highest elected authority in the province.  The government’s party did win majority in the Garcia Moreno local township government (Parroquia), where the Junin project is based, but lost majority in five of the remaining six Parish governments (they have a slim and unstable majority in Plaza Gutierrez).

Keep tuned…..



By , December 10, 2013

Working in conservation in developing countries is always a challenge (maybe not only in developing countries).  However, little did I know that, in the middle of buying forests for communities (in 2013 over a thousand hectares), creating new community watershed reserves, working with community nurseries, expanding environmental education campaigns to hundreds of kids, reforesting new land and river frontage and adding legal protection for hundreds of hectares of primary cloud forests (all in 2013), we’d also have to deal with unreal crap like this.

 This new bizarre twist, however, may take first prize in the unreal department .  Try to wrap your brain around it:  The President of a country spending public money and investing how much time? to discredit me, a private individual, and a text that was written to help communities defend themselves against the ravages of extractive industries. Something more is in the air…


By Carlos Zorrilla

In view of what Ecuadorinmediato(1) and other media outlets published regarding the accusations made against me by President Correa during his nationally televised Saturday TV report to the nation on December 7, I feel it is my duty to report the truth about the publication mentioned by the President, as well as to point out the malicious use of the information that those in power make in order to slander people who have no chance of defending themselves.

I am one of the four authors of the guide entitled “Protecting Your Community Against Mining Companies and Other Extractive Activities”, the text that was mentioned by the Executive on December 7. It was published in 2009 with the intention of informing the communities affected by extractivism of some of the known strategies used by oil and mining companies to divide communities and generate conflict. The Guide suggests legitimate strategies and non-violent forms of resistance aimed at protecting the communities from the most disastrous effects that the presence of such companies might have. This is why it is absurd to attempt to link the actions suggested by the Guide to the protest held at the end of November in Quito by activists against the XI Oil Bidding Round.

In this context, it’s worth directly quoting the principle shared by the authors of the Guide:

“Mankind can only free itself of violence only through non-violence.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

We consider the principle of this great leader of peaceful resistance to be indispensable in facing injustice, illegality, and the imposition of large-scale mining or oil extraction activities. The policy of not conducting legitimate consultation processes or not respecting the previous consent of affected populations is a practice which violates every principle and right of individuals and communities, and makes a mockery of the idea of Buen Vivir (Good Living).

I wish to make it perfectly clear that the violent or illegal actions attributed to the Guide during the presidential TV show are in fact a grotesque montage. For example, none of the authors suggest placing pregnant women or women carrying children in the front lines as a strategy for resistance, as the President of Ecuadorians insinuated during the video spot shown during his Saturday show. Such a statement is an outrageous lie. Merely one of over a dozen misrepresentations attributed to the authors of the Guide (the full list of lies has been included at the end of this text).

If the country had an impartial and independent judicial branch, I would sue for slanderous libel with the full confidence that I would win.

Another presidential statement issued on December 7 is extremely dangerous. The President said that “Zorrilla’s Guide” was created to destabilize progressive governments. The irony is that the guide was created to deal with the illegalities and abuses by transnational corporations, and government entities are barely even mentioned. Whenever they are mentioned, the guide actually suggests cooperating with them. This ridiculous charge, along with the others, makes me wonder about the real reasons behind the set up.

I consider these unbelievable declarations –along with those issued during the Presidents TV show No. 341 broadcasted on September 14, 2013, pertaining Intag’s resistance to mining– to be part of a governmental plot against me and the DECOIN (Defense and Conservation of Intag), an environmentalist organization of which I am a member, and that has been working hard since 1995 to create sustainable alternatives to large-scale mining in the area of Intag. I very much doubt that we are the only ones in the President’s crosshairs.


I ask the people who heard the President to read the guide in question ( and draw their own conclusions about the text and its objectives, as well as about the practice of truth on the part of the State. With this concerning precedents in mind, I ask the public to be on the alert regarding what may happen to me or to my family.

I take this opportunity to express my opinion regarding the dissolution of the Pachamama Foundation and the present harassment against me and Decoin. I believe this is only the beginning of a long night of injustices and abuse that seeks to silence the voices of those who legitimately question the government and its vision of development, and who call the creation of a more just world.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that this latest infamy is one more to add to several prior attempts to discredit and harm me. In 2006, for example, a transnational mining company financed a costly and false scheme against me with the objective of incarcerating me. And in 2010, the mining company Ecuacorrientes financed a shameless video that also attempted to misrepresent the content of the guide. All of this because of my participation in the resistance against large-scale mining in Intag, that dates back to 1995. They all failed in their attempts against me.

Carlos Zorrilla


Source: 1.


Strategies falsely attributed to the authors of the Guide and taken from the video presented during the Presidents TV show on December 7, 2013

  1. 1.       ….sitting to block roads
  2. 2.       ….pressure against individuals
  3. 3.       …..harassing authorities
  4. 4.       ….bothering government officials,
  5. 5.       ….. verbal repudiation
  6. 6.       …..occupations
  7. 7.       …..driving around in vehicles
  8. 8.       ….occupation of public buildings
  9. 9.       …..blocking the path of authorities
  10. 10.    …..attacks,
  11. 11.    …..invasions,
  12. 12.    …..physical occupation of a place
  13. 13.    …. carrying children in arms,  and
  14. 14.   ….using pregnant women

* A few of these strategies were taken from a well-known guide of resistance against war which was included in the bibliography of the guide, as reference material.

The video also contains other lies, including the false statement that the Pachamama Foundation is included in the list of potential community allies, when it is not.  It also insinuates that the Yasunidos collective is among the list of potential community allies, when in fact that collective was created 4 years after the publication of the guide!

 After presenting the video, President Correa falsely claims that all that was shown comes from the Guide, and he bluntly states that “’Zorrilla’s guide’ has the objective of destabilizing progressive governments”, and asks the Ecuadorian people to “react”.


Carlos Zorrilla


Carlos Zorrilla

De lo publicado en Ecuadorinmediato(1) y otros medios sobre las acusaciones lanzadas nuevamente por el primer mandatario en contra de mi persona durante la sabatina del 7 de diciembre, me siento en la obligación de informar sobre las verdades relacionadas con la publicación que el Presidente Correa mencionó,  y junto a ello señalar el uso doloso de la  información que el poder hace para calumniar a personas que no tienen ninguna posibilidad de defensa.

Soy uno de los cuatro autores del manual “Protegiendo a su comunidad contra empresas mineras y otras actividades extractivas”, obra mencionada por el Ejecutivo el día 7 de diciembre.  Publicado en el 2009 con la finalidad de informar a las comunidades afectadas por el extractivismo de algunas de las conocidas estrategias utilizadas por empresas petroleras y mineras para dividir a las comunidades y causar conflictos, el Manual sugiere estrategias y formas de resistencia legítimas y no violentas orientadas a proteger a las comunidades de los efectos más nefastos de la presencia de dichas empresas. Por tanto es un absurdo vincular las acciones sugeridas en el Manual con la protesta realizada por activistas en contra de la XI Ronda Petrolera en Quito a fines de noviembre.

En este contexto vale la pena citar directamente del Manual un principio compartido por los autores:

“La humanidad no puede librarse de la violencia más que por medio de la no violencia:” (Mahatma Gandhi)

Consideramos el principio de este gran líder de la resistencia pacífica indispensable para enfrentar la injusticia, la ilegalidad, y la imposición de la minería a  gran escala o actividades petroleras. La política de no realizar procesos de legítima consulta o de respetar el consentimiento previo de las poblaciones afectadas es una práctica que violenta todo principio y derecho de los individuos y las comunidades, y hace una burla del Buen Vivir.

Quiero dejar en claro que las acciones violentas o ilegales atribuidas al texto del manual durante la sabatina presidencial son un grotesco montaje. Por ejemplo, ninguno de los autores sugerimos  poner al frente de las trincheras a mujeres embarazadas o con niños en  brazos como estrategia de resistencia, tal como el Presidente de las y los Ecuatorianos insinuó por medio del video que mostró durante la sabatina. Dicha aseveración es una atroz mentira; una más de una docena de tergiversaciones atribuidas a los autores del manual (la lista completa a continuación de la presente).

Si en el país existiera un poder judicial imparcial e independiente plantearía un juicio por injuria calumniosa, con la certeza de que ganaría.

Otra declaración del Presidente emitida el día 7 es sumamente peligrosa.  Según el mandatario, el manual “de Zorrilla” fue creado para desestabilizar a gobiernos progresistas.  La ironía es que el manual fue creado para enfrentar las ilegalidades y atropellos cometidos por empresas transnacionales, y apenas menciona entidades gubernamentales y, cuando lo hace, más bien sugiere cooperar con éstas. Esta ridícula acusación, sumada a las demás, me hace reflexionar sobre las verdaderas razones detrás del montaje.

Estas increíbles declaraciones, juntamente con otras emitidas en la sabatina Nº 341 de septiembre 14 del año en curso relacionadas a la resistencia a la minería en Intag, considero son parte de un operativo  que el gobierno prepara en contra de mi persona y la DECOIN, (Defensa y Conservación de Intag), organización ambientalista de la cual soy miembro, y que viene trabajando arduamente desde 1995 para crear alternativas sustentable a la minería  a gran escala en la zona de Intag. Y dudo mucho que seamos los únicos en las miras del Presidente.

Hago un pedido muy especial para que las personas que escucharon al Presidente lean la obra en mención y lleguen a su propia conclusión sobre el texto del manual y sus objetivos y sobre la práctica de la verdad desde el poder del estado. Con estos preocupantes antecedentes pongo en alerta a la ciudadanía sobre lo que me podría pasar a mi o a mi familia.

Aprovecho este espacio para expresar mi opinión sobre  el cierre de la Fundación Pachamama y el actual acoso en contra de mi persona y la Decoin: Considero que es solo el inicio de una larga noche de injusticia y atropello que busca silenciar las voces que legítimamente cuestionan al poder y su visión del desarrollo, así como también a los reclamos por la  creación de un mundo más justo.

Por último, cabe señalar que esta última infamia se une a otros intentos de difamarme y de hacerme daño. En el 2006, por ejemplo, una empresa minera transnacional financió un costoso montaje en mi contra con el objetivo de encarcelarme.  Y, en el 2010, la empresa Ecuacorrientes financió un descarado video de igual manera tergiversando el contenido del manual.  Todo debido a mi participación en la resistencia contra la minería a gran escala en Intag que data de 1995. Y, todos fracasaron en lograr su objetivo.

Carlos Zorrilla


Fuente: 1.


Estrategias falsamente atribuidas a los autores del manual y tomadas del video presentado durante la sabatina del 7 de diciembre

  1. 1.       ….sentarse en la vía para obstaculizarla
  2. 2.       ….presiones a individuos
  3. 3.       …..atosigar a las autoridades
  4. 4.       ….molestar  a funcionarios,
  5. 5.       ….. repudio verbal
  6. 6.       …..ocupaciones
  7. 7.       …..dando vueltas en vehículos
  8. 8.       ….toma de edificios públicos
  9. 9.       …..interrumpir el paso de autoridades 
  10. 10.    …..ataques,
  11. 11.    …..invasiones
  12. 12.    …..posesión física de un lugar
  13. 13.    …. llevar niños en brazos,  y a
  14. 14.   ….utilizar a mujeres embarazadas 

*Unas pocas de estas estrategias fueron tomadas de un conocido manual de resistencia contra la guerra que fue incluido en la bibliografía del manual como referencia.

El video, además contiene otras                tergiversaciones, incluyendo la aseveración que la Fundación Pachamama consta en la lista del Manual como potencial aliada de las comunidades, algo totalmente falso.  También insinúa que los Yasunidos consta como otro potencial aliado de las comunidades, ¡ a pesar que la organización fue creada 4 años después de la publicación del Manual!

Después de la presentación del video, el Presidente Correa  alega que todo lo mostrado se encuentra en el manual, y dice frontalmente que  el “manual de Zorrilla” es para ver si estabilizan a los gobiernos progresistas   Y, pide al pueblo ecuatoriano que reaccione



¿Cuantas veces NO Enami-Codelco? How many times and how many ways NO Enami-Codelco?

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By , August 25, 2013
Cuantas veces NO Enami-Codelco?
El jueves 22 del presente, Enami intentó socializar su mal concebido  proyecto minero con un gremio de choferes de Intag en el Complejo Ecoturístico de Nangulví, el centro turístico más importante de la zona de Intag.    Dado que el Complejo es administrado por un grupo de comunidades dignas de la Parroquia de Peñaherrera- una de las dos parroquias afectadas por el proyecto minero JUNIN, al enterarse le cerraron las puertas.  Los socializadores, con poca convocatoria, se vieron obligados a socializar su versión del proyecto y los engaños a otro lado.  Y,, dado que a esa otra socialización asistieron personas decentes y enteradas de las mentiras y engaños que a través de las casi cuatro décadas han sido promulgadas por las empresas mineras a los inteños e inteñas, la reunión fue un rotundo fracaso. 
En fin, otro rechaso más al proceso de socialización de la Enami-Codelco, y a su presencia en Intag.  ¿Cuantas otros rechazos más hasta que por fin entiendan que acá la mayoría NO QUIERE MINERÍA???
Hace unas tres semanas ocurrió algo similar cuando intentaron socializar el proyecto minero en Chalguyacu Alto.  No pudieron.  Decenas de comuneros le cerraron el paso.  Algo similar pasó en la Parroquia de Peñaerrera y la comunidad de Junin hace ya varios meses.  En Apuela tampoco les fue muy bien cuando lo intetaron, ya que casi todos los asistentes se expresaron en contra del proyecto y los engaños de la Enami-Codelco.
Tal es el rechazo en la zona que los funcionarios de la Enami ahora se ven obligados de ir de casa en casa rogandole a la gente que le dejen entrar para socializar su proyecto que no causa impacto y que es maravilloso para el país y todo el planeta,y que además sacará a toda la zona y el país de la pobreza.  Socializar sin debatir publicamente es lo que se llama una contradicción a gran escala. Un atropello más.  Y si no le dejan debatir publicamente, que respeten el mensaje y el sentir de la mayoría.  
On Thursday 22 , Enami tried to socialize their ill-conceived mining project with a group of professional truck owners in the Nangulví Ecotourism Complex, the largest resort in Intag. Since the complex is managed by a group of decent communities belonging to the Peñaherrera Parish, one of the two parishes affected by the JUNIN mining project , upon hearing of that the meeting was with Enami-Codelco, the doors were closed to the locale. The socializers, with little notice, were forced to socialize their version of the project and the deceptions elsewhere.  By the way, the meeting there was also a rotund failure, given that there were people who have not been seduced by the lies the socializers tell, and who remember all the lies the companies have been telling the Intag people for decades. 


Another failure of the socialization process of Enami Codelco; another NO in the long list of No to mining in Intag.  How many more failures  until you learn that here, the majority DO NOT WANT MINING?

About three weeks ago something similar happened when they tried to socialize the mining project in Chalguyacu Alto. They could not. Dozens of villagers blocked her way. Something similar happened in the Parish of Peñaerrera and Junin community several months ago. In Apuela did not fare very well when it intetaron, since almost all attendees spoke out against the project and the deceptions of Enami Codelco.

Such is the rejection in the area Enami officials now are forced to go from house to house people beseeching to be let in. to socialize your project that makes an impact and it’s great for the country and around the globe , and also will bring to the entire area and the country out of poverty. Socialize without discussing publicly is what is called a large-scale conflict. A more outrage. And if he is not allowed to discuss publicly, to respect the message and the feelings of the majority.



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