Mining companies pay for siege of Cotacachi Municipality

By , April 12, 2005

As I write this, a group of nineteen community leaders, Parish township governments, and representatives from different Intag organizations, are trapped inside the Cotacachi Municipal building, by a few dozen pro-mining people brought by Ascendant Copper Corporation to Cotacachi. The small group is being protected by members of the national police.

The trapped group includes the presidents of the communities of Junin, Zero Pelado, Barcelona, three of the four communities slated for relocation to make room for the copper mine. Also present are two DECOIN members, Polibio Perez, head of the community development council, as well as the presidents of Parish governments of Apuela, Plaza Gustier, Cellar and Fracas Gain, and the president of AACRI (the coffee association). They have been there since 5pm, and have been warned not to leave (it is now after 8pm). Since the start DECOIN members and Polibio Perez were especially targeted for a barrage of insulting and threatening remarks.

The group is kept from leaving by several dozen pro-mining people brought out in buses that were, according to a driver of one of the buses, hired by Ascendant Copper Corporation (a company recently created by Ascendant Exploration). The company was in Cotacachi in the first place because they had accepted an invitation from the Municipality of Cotacachi to do a presentation on the mining project. However, even before the meeting began, the pro-mining faction aggressively went into and took over the Municipality and demanded to see the Mayor. Mayor Auki Tituaña refused to meet with anyone until the place was vacated by the aggressors. No one was expecting this aggressive turn of events.

About an hour ago, it was agreed the presentation would take place, but only between representatives of the Municipal authorities and Ascendant Copper Corporation. As I write this, the meeting is still in session, and our colleagues are still unable to leave the municipal building.

Many employees from Ascendant Exploration were mixing with the anti-mining crowd, including General Caesar Villains. We believe he now works for Ascendant Copper Corporation. This corporation was recently created with the sole objective to mine Junin’s copper. Also present is the ubiquitous Ronald Abrade, who is leading a initiative to create a new County, and is deeply undermining the Mayor’s authorities. He presents himself as the president CODE GAM, a community development organization based in the Parish of García Moreno, that was created by, and works closely with Ascendant Exploration

What we are witnessing is an outrageous abuse of power by a transnational corporation to try to aggressively impose a mining project most do not want, nor are they going to accept. This rejection includes the Municipal government of Cotacachi.

If you would like to voice your support for the government of Cotacachi and the brave community leaders and everyday citizens of Intag who are saying no to this gross injustice, and risking their lives in so doing, please write a letter to Cotacachi government officials and community and Parish government representatives, to:

Alcalde Auki Tituaña,
Consejales y Consejales de Cotacachi,
y Representantes de comunidades y Parroquias Afectadas por la Minería
Municipio de Cotacachi
Cotacachi, Imbabura

If you want to contact the people behind Ascendant Copper do so at:
Paul Grist
President, Ascendant Exploration

Phone: 593-22-447-363
Republica Del Salvador Y Portugal
Quito, Ecuador


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