Ascendant Copper Corporation Provokes Another Confrontation With Communities
On Wednesday, 16 of November, between 20 and 30 community members from Chalguayacu Alto and Junin confronted four Ascendant Copper Corporation employees, including its community relations person, Adam Smith, at the community road control a few kilometers from Junin.
Ascendant Copper Corporation’s employees had intended to pay a surprise visit to the community, but as soon as members from both communities found out, they quickly gathered a large group and went up to the control with sticks and machetes. By that time, the Ascendant group had learned of the community’s plans to come up where they were, and tried to go back in their vehicle. However, they were unable to, as the control was locked down by order of the community.
The confrontation soon became a very heated confrontation, with people nearly coming to blows. The group from Junin warned them their presence was not tolerated and were reminded that they had been told over and over again they were not wanted in the area. There was talk by some of destroying the company’s car.
One of the interesting statements coming out of Mr. Smith was that the company had not even begun working on its environmental impact studies. Yet, on their prospectus, the company claims to have spent tens of thousands of dollars on it. Members from the community of Junin and the Chalguayacu Alto Association, supported by all other communities adjacent too the project area, have vowed to keep Ascendant employees from going into the community-owned and managed ecological reserve, which is used by the Junin community for its successful community ecological tourism project. The reserve overlies the copper deposit claimed by Ascendant Copper Corporation, and any environmental study would be invalid if it didn’t include complete studies of this area’s biological and physical elements. Without this study, there can be no exploration, according to Ecuadorian mining legislation.
In the end, the Ascendant team in the end was allowed to leave, but were warned this would be the last time they would be allowed as far as the community control, and that they would have to suffer the consequences of not respecting the community’s decisions.
The next Friday, they made another intent to contact the president of the Chalguayacu Alto Association, but were again rebuked, and again warned that their presence was not wanted, nor would in the future be tolerated. I understand a scuffle ensued to force one of the company’s employees to abandon the premises. The company had called a meeting that Friday with the community, but no one came, and it was cancelled.
The Company Doctor in Trouble?
Meanwhile, the doctor the company installed at Chalguayacu Bajo was made to only attend to the six company workers and their families. The doctor was forbidden from attending to people in other communities. If you feel you’d like to support the work of the nurse in Chalguayacu Bajo who is completely independent from the company, please contact us.
Illegal Land Titles Investigated by Government Officials
This past October, a delegation from Junin went to meet with the Executive Director of Inda in Quito, and he agreed to fully investigate the rash of illegal land titles given out by suppossedly Inda employees meant to benefit Ascendant. He promised to investigate and punish all the responsible parties, and annul all the titles. Inda officials recently started, or soon will initiate criminal lawsuits against persons associated with at least one of the illegal land titles that was to benefit Ascendant: that of Mr. Hector Cultid. Apparently, the signature of one of Inda’s officials was forged on this, and other titles. It looks like this investigation will uncover an incredibly complex and widespread corruption machinery in place in Imbabura Province, and that it could seriously affect many of Ascendant’s land titles. The Director said more lawsuits will soon follow, until all the illegal or irregular land titles were annulled. In light of this recent development, DECOIN will ask the Congressional Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate Ascendant Copper’s part in the issuing of illegal land titles, and in the irregular land adjudications.