Things have been rather quiet lately, which for us is good news. Some of that quietness might be to the latest setbacks to Ascendant detailed below.
ON THE GROUND: After the amazing anti-mining rally in the village of Barcelona in October 9th, where more than 500 people showed up from 22 communities, there have not been any further attempts of the miners of invading community land, or trespassing. DECOIN prepared for 300 people, and were pleasantly stunned by the turnout, especially considering the village is not at all easy to get to. The event was made possible thanks to the coordination between the Community Development Council and DECOIN, and attracted our mayor, Auki Tituaña, several representatives, not only from dozens of communities, but also from a powerful county community association (working with about 44 mostly indigenous communities), who also pledged their support to the anti-mining cause.
One interesting rumor to pass along is that Ascendant will soon leave Intag. This, after the political setback, and the moving anti-mining rally. It could also be a means for Ascendant to increase pressure by the pro-mining forces in Intag on the anti-mining majority.
HUMAN RIGHTS: About 2 months ago we denounced the various death threats to some of our anti-mining colleagues to a human rights organization here in Quito (CEDHU). We are happy to report that the threats are being investigated by both the Ministry of Government and the Attny General. A team of investigators visited Intag a week ago and talked to the threatened people (including Sra Hortensia, who kept miners away from her land). No idea when the report will come out.
On another note, we will very soon be meeting with the Attorney General to discuss the various illegalities committed, and being committed, by Ascendant Exploration.
POLITICAL VICTORY: Another nail in Ascendant’s coffin. Ecuador held local public elections last month, and the anti-mining forces easily won in 5 of Intag’s 6 parish-township governments within Cotacachi County!! The loss extended even to what the miners consider their stronghold, the parish-township of García Moreno. The party who won is Pachacutik, whose candidates are easily identified as anti-mining. Auki Tituaña, our indigenous mayor who has been supporting the anti-mining stance, also easily won his 3rd 4 year term, and has taken special interest in stopping Ascendant.
LEGAL CASES? We recently found out that the criminal legal case against the Intag newspaper might not go anywhere after all. Mostly because, in Ecuadorian legislation, a corporation cannot sue for libel, since it is not considered to have the same legal rights as a person (Duh!). Also, Mary Ellen, the paper’s director, has not been legally served with a summons: she received notice of the suit in her PO box, instead of personally. A very stupid initiative to try and scare the opposition, but worrisome that the judge in Ibarra is playing along (what wonders a bit of grease can do). However, I just heard that Polibio Perez might be being sued by Ascendant. At this point it is not clear on what grounds. As soon as we confirm, I’ll let you know.
MORE CONCESSIONS: Ascendant is currently asking for another 4,000 hectares concession in the Cuellaje Parish. If they think they have problems in García Moreno Parish, they have no idea what awaits them in Cuellaje. Here there is much more opposition to mining, and in the recent election, not a single pro-mining candidate won there by popular vote!
MORE STUPIDITY: About a month or so ago, a very curious anti-Decoin web page was created (fraudecoin.org). Interesting that the people “Comité Todos Por Intag”, had a similar line to the pro-mining political movement that was destroyed in the last local election. The page also did not attack their political adversaries, not made public their political platform; just a ludicrous attack on DECOIN and some of our colleagues. The page is just another instance of how desperate Ascendant is getting in Intag. Who else can afford to put up a web page? Plus it’s pretty funny to read. Especially for those of you who know us or our work.
LEGAL STEPS: Ok, I was forgetting: we have not forgotten the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights case against the Ecuadorian government for constitutional violation. Our lawyer colleagues have been a bit overwhelmed, but I suspect that by either year’s end, or beginning of 2005, the case will be presented. Anyway, the information is being gathered, which is always an awfully slow process out here!
I think that’s all for now.
Thank you all for your support. And remember, (unfortunately) IT’S NOT OVER YET….