Background Information and an Update on Recent Developments

By , June 23, 2004

Junin representatives officially presented a claim to the People’s Defender in Quito on 27th of May against Ascendant Exploration mining company, and took the first firm steps to present their case to the Interamerican Human Rights Commission by contacting the legal organization who will be representing them.

The following day representatives from Junin, Decoin, and the Cotacachi Municipal government met with the Minister of Energy and Mines to talk about the problems created in Junin by Ascendant Exploration and to try and find some solutions. One of the outcomes of the meeting was that the Ministry offered to ask the mining company to stop all activities until a set of meetings took place with communities and the municipal government. This the company violated immediately, and as of this last Saturday, 5 of June, we met with representatives from the communities and were informed by them that company officials, including the retired Brigadier General and the company’s general manager, John Bolaños, had been in their communities the day before. The meeting has been set up for June 17th in Cotacachi.

Among the things the community representatives told us was that the company is buying people from the communities to attempt to divide and conquer, and is offering jobs for 4 to 5 times the normal wages. Death threats, some veiled and some not-so veiled, are still being used to intimidate . We were also told that the company approached someone from Chalguayacu Bajo (close to Junin), to purchase his land, probably to establish a base. Meanwhile, the smear campaign directed against DECOIN and its leaders still continues strong.

We also recently found out that Ascendant has another 5,000 hectare concession adjacent to the two other ones, implicating several other villages not previously affected.

Interference: My phone line is constantly experiencing problems, to the point that some days I have no service whatsoever, even though everyone else on the same system nearby have no problems at all (I am travelling to Otavalo today to send this mail). Decoin’s president, Silvia Quilumbango is likewise experiencing similar problems with her phone, and similarly, hers is the only phone line with problems in her neighborhood. We are assuming our phone lines are being tapped, and know our mail is being intercepted.

So far, Decoin is the only organization financially supporting both, the Junin community and their case to the Interamerican Human Rights Commission, and the grass-roots work by the newly created Consejo de Desarrollo Comunitario in confronting the mining company. They need your support.

DECOIN does not have the funds to maintain the support both of these intiatives require for very long. If you’d like to help out, please get in touch.

Thank you.

Carlos Zorrilla



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