The Community Development Council is created in the Junin area to confront the new mining threat and to support community development, and Junin decides to sue the Ecuadorian government.
(updated 28 May)
This past Sunday (May 16th) I came back from a two day trip to Junin with some good, but also some very troubling news. We (DECOIN) were in Junin to help commemorate 7 years of the expulsion of Mitsubishi from our forests, rivers and communities. In all, nearly 150 residents from twelve communities showed up in the beautiful Junin valley to meet, share experiences and dreams, and celebrate.
As soon as we arrived, however, we were informed that a mining company had just held a meeting in the village of Chalguayacu Alto (next to Junin) the day before (May 14) to inform everyone they were the new mining concession owners, and to do what they all do: offer high paying jobs and promise the moon. Fortunately, the mining company (Ascendant Exploration) is a exploration company and too small to actually exploit the mine. We believe they are there to make the concession attractive to a much bigger company, by, among other things, buying a few leaders, and trying to neutralize the opposition. I know it reads like a scene from a movie, but during the meeting, a young man was caught trying to tape interventions by some DECOIN representatives. It turned out that he was sent by someone who had denounced DECOIN at the meeting the day before in Chalguayacu Alto (both are natives of Intag).
At the May 14th meeting, Ascendant Exploration employees admitted they had gone into the Junin community forest reserve without asking permission from the community, or letting anyone know what they were doing in the area.
Before the party and dance was to began, the program called for a special meeting to create a community focus organization to help not only confront the new mining threat, but also to help community development. The result was the Council for Community Development, made up by local people from at least 7 local communities, and counts with the support of many local organizations, including DECOIN, Intag’s Women’s Coordinating Committee, AACRI (Intag coffee association), to name just a few of the 8 organizations present at the meeting expressing their full support. In 1997 it was a similar local organization that was key in driving Mitsubishi out of Intag, when hundreds of campesinos burned down the mining camp.
The new community organization will focus on supporting communities develop projects and to actively oppose mining. Their first action was to contact Cotacachi’s mayor today, Monday 17, to denounce the presence of the mining company in their community and ask for his personal intervention to stop them from returning.
The mining company seems to be a shell company set up in Ecuador, but owned by another shell set up in the West Indies (Turks and Caicos Islands). The web has interesting background on the individuals making up these shells, including a retired Brigadier General from Ecuador with background in national security organizations, and several Canadian and U.S. investors; plus a bunch of professional miners (scammers?) (((at the 14 may meeting the general let it know that it would not be too much trouble to order the military to protect the mining interests, and we suspect he was hired exclusively to intimidate the locals)))
On May 21st, and after receiving news mining employees were in the community forests reserve, a newly formed women’s group in Junin decided to go and confront the miners, who were cleaning up the old abandoned mining camp (site of the Mitsubishi bonfire) , and asked the miners to leave. The miners left!!!, but we don’t have any details on what transpired. The miners were within the 2,500 hectare reserve Decoin helped Junin buy years ago, thus were there illegally. As of May 26th, the community reserve was free of miners (there are no phones in Junin, so communication is very difficult)
(*update 28/May) Another key development that took place in Junin on the 15th of May was the unanimous decision by the community to take their case to the Interamerican Human Rights Commission. They will claim that Ecuador violated their to be previously consulted regarding mining activities in their area, and their right to live in an environment free of contamination, both fundamental rights guaranteed in Ecuador’s Constitution . They started the paperwork to present their case on May 27th. DECOIN will be assisting the community in the legal case as well as their on-the-ground resistance, and working with CDES, a Human Rights organization based in Quito who will be their legal council in Ecuador.
If you would like to help the newly created Community Development Council, you can contact them at the following address:
firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can contact DECOIN at email@example.com
For more details, please check out our web page.
More as things develop (and they definitely will).