(Intag, Ecuador) As you will be able to see from the report that follows Ascendant Exploration continues to try to impose a mining project very few local villagers want through illegal and aggressive means. This latest rejection is just one more of a long and growing list of examples of people getting fed up with the way this company is doing business in Intag. Armed guards are now a standard feature of the tranquil town of García Moreno whenever the top brass of Ascendant rolls into town, as is the constant intimidation to anti-mining community leaders like Polibio Pérez. The desperation they are being forced into is an indication of their failure to convince people of the “benefits” of the mining project. The willingness of people like Hortensia to grab a machete to protect her rights and stand up to the pro-miners forces, and the support she is getting from other communities also clearly shows the level of repudiation the company is generating in the locals.
Monday, 20 September. About 20 men and women from Junin and Chalguayacu Alto went up to the area of San Edmundo today, about 2 hours walk south of Junin, to support the people there opposed to the Ascendant Exploration’s plans of opening an illegal road to access the mining concession.
This past Saturday (18th), paid workers of Ascendant intimidated Hortensia Yepez of the San Edmundo community, and tried to enter her land in order to delineate the planned road to the mining concession. Señora Hortensia was home only with her daughter at the time of this aggression, but wasted no time or words in driving the employees away with machete in hand and a sharp tongue, which hurried the worker’s departure. The workers turned away but tried to intimidate Señora Hortensia and her daughter, saying they would be back the following Monday (today) with more workers!. In case you are wondering, the mining company is acting totally illegal, since a road requires not only an environmental impact study, but the authorization of all land owners potentially impacted.
The community delegation met with people from San Edmundo to support their rejection of mining, waiting for hours for the Ascendant’s workers to show up, but no one from the company dared to show. The delegation took the opportunity to make and post signs along Mrs. Hortensia’s land borders, with clear anti-mining messages and keep-away warnings. The Junin-Chalguayacu delegation also offered to return to keep supporting the San Edmundo community and to help patrol the land and keep the invaders off hers and her neighbor’s land who are mostly adamantly anti-mining.
This is just one more of a series of outrageous violations of national laws and common dignity being promoted by the mining interests in Intag. And one more show of the level of resistance and solidarity it is generating!