Follow up to 11 April

By , April 13, 2005
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Dear all,

Follow up to the mail I sent on the night of 11 April and the siege of the Municipality of Cotacachi.

Finally, around 10pm, the Mayor was able to meet only with Ascendant Copper Corporation, and they were able to present their presentation to the Mayor and the six council members of the Cotacachi Municipal government (not very impressive presentation, we hear). Our colleagues were kept trapped in a small room by the angry “pro mining” crowd for about six and a half hours. The crowd brought to Cotacachi by the mining company were not permitted into the room, but later in the night they violently broke the doors to the main glass door to the Municipality and another door to another main room where the meeting was to take place.

One thing that is especially worrying us is the comment a friend overheard in the pro-mining crowd to the effect that “if Polbio was out of the way, the problem would be resolved”. The person who heard this is totally reliable, and while he does not know who Cesar Villacis is, his description matches Villacis’ physique and age. DECOIN has already been in conversation with other community leaders to see if between us all we can increase security for Polibio.

The person now representing Ascendant Copper Corporation is Geovanny Rosanía, an ex employee from the Ministry of Energy and Mines, who we had problems with during the Mitsubishi resistance back in 1995-97. For example, he made it all but impossible for us to obtain the Environmental Impact Study, among other things, and was vehemently against “ecologists”. When we finally got the study, it contained only about 20% of it. One of his comments during his presentation was that he was aghast that there could be opposition in both of Ecudaor’s great copper mining areas- in the Cordillera del Condor, by the Shuar indigenous, and in Intag! Apparently his presentation focused on the wonders of “modern technology”, however, when they had problems with the In Focus system, our Mayor, Auki Tituana made references to the fallibility of such technology!!

After the presentation, and only after mining company left Cotacachi with their people (see article below), the 19 representatives from the communities and organizations from Intag opposed to mining finally were able to leave the room they were trapped in, nearly at midnight and met with the Mayor and the council members. They were assured the municipality had not altered their position on mining.

One thing agreed on, was that a much bigger forum would be called in Cotacachi to discuss the problem, and that both sides would be invited (no date set). We hope to facilitate the transport for hundreds of people for the event.

See below for the translated text of a very important article on the siege that came out yesterday and in which the Mayor makes some very important statements on Ascendant Exploration, and his position on mining. The article was posted too late on monday night to be posted on the paper’s web page (lahoraecuador.com), but I’ll try to post a JPG image of the article on our web as soon as possible.

Carlos Zorrilla

Quotes from La Hora’s 12 April article on the siege in Cotacachi.
Unfortunately, the story did not make it on the paper’s web page because the reporter filed the story very late in the evening, and La Hora’ss page (lahoraecuador.com) had already been posted. We’ll have copies available (jpg image) to whomever solicits it.

PRO MINERS USE FORCE TO BREAK IN
“The Mayor is dead” some of the demonstrators from Intag who entered the Municipality yelled, to demand that the Mayor hear Ascendant Exploration’s presentation.

The Municipal government had met, and the meeting with Ascendant was scheduled in the meetings agenda, however, at night the meeting turned violent, provoked by those who were waiting outside.

The ‘pro miners’ destroyed the door to the Salon Maximo and went to the meeting by force.

At 23:30 Tituaña left the Municipal Salon. “All of what the Ascendant Exploration’s people did, the home office of the company will know about in Canada.”

Lots of rumors were circulating that the people who came out in support of mining where there because of a supposed cheap housing plan. “Well have our own houses” some people from Intag yelled, who were in Cotacachi and who caused the problem.

A FLAWED LEGAL PROCESS
“If everything is constitutionally in order, and they have the law on their side, they should go ahead and start exploiting”, said Auki Tituana, Cotacachis Mayor, who pointed out that fortunately there are conscientious, strong, and courageous people who chose their own path of sustainable development

“In spite of those who are in favor of mining due to personal interests, and that certain consciences were bought, and have a certain amount of support, the great majorities will have the final say”, said Tituana.

Tituaña believed it incredible that there was no outlay from the big landowners and weapons -buying- ex military personnel, as he characterized those who lead, what to Ronald Andrade, president of the García Moreno Development Corporation (CODEGAM), is a manifestation of a people are tired and who want development.

In spite of the fact that they did not leave the Municipality, they did make room for the Mayor to access the Salon Maximo where Geovanny Rosanía, Ascendant Explorations CEO waited for him to present his company’s project. Tituaña, after making sure his condition was met, that is, guarantees, went to hear what the miners had to say, even though before this he stated his position as being firm and his rejection to exploitation in Intag was categorical.

“It’s time for the Mayor to listen to the other side and stop being in favor of only one sector” said Andrade, while at the same time Polivio Pérez, president of the Council for Community Development, the organization that opposes the exploitation, threatened to radicalize protest measures. “This is not the way to begin a dialog”.

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