Due to the different versions going around regarding what happened in Chalguayacu Bajo, Cotacachi County, Ecuador, this past 10 of December 2005, in which the Ascendant mining camp was completely destroyed, we wish to let our point of view, based on the truth, be known.
In the act more than 300 local people from approximately 20 communities from the Intag area participated; mostly the ones threatened and more likely to be affected. There were no thefts of company goods, nor was there any one hurt, as the company claims. The police report confirms our version.
The decision to take this action, and for the communities to take control of the lands the company owns was taken in a democratic and participatory manner by all those present. If the company pays no heed to the clamor of the communities, these will be forced to take over other properties as the only defense mechanism.
This measure takes place after nearly two years of the presence of this company in Intag, which has caused great division in the communities. The measure is also a legitimate response to the constant aggressions, and abuses by the company against local governments, organizations, and community leaders who have opposed the mining project; including: death threats, physical aggressions, road blockades, and intents at invasion of land belonging to the Junín community.
The sinister land purchases by the company has been completely repudiated by our communities, and no government authority or institution has been able to put a stop to it.
We reject the company’s irresponsible version that says a clinic was destroyed, and the “communities are asking the company to rebuild it”. This is another lie. The truth is that what was destroyed was the Ascendant mining camp where their employees frequently met to plan aggressions and intimidations against our communities. Presently, a real clinic is being built in Chalguayacu Bajo with state funds, as it should be. The communities next to the mining site, including La Armenia, Junín, Cerro Pelado, Barcelona, El Triunfo and Chalguayacu Bajo, have not asked the company to do anything except leave the Intag area once and for all.
No one besides the group of people present is responsible for Saturday’s action. We emphatically reject the absurd accusation that certain leaders of the DECOIN organization were responsible.
We demand that:
1) The company immediately abandon our lands;
2) that it stops funding the false organization CODEGAM;
3) that it stops purchasing lands in Intag; and
4) that it bring to an end the persecution of community leaders and organizations.
We take the opportunity to denounce to the press that the Ascendant Copper Corporation mining company will soon present its Environmental Impact Statement to the Ministry of Energy and Mines for its mining project, but that it has never gone into the mining area to undertake the studies, as the law calls for. Every time the company has tried to go into the area, it’s been stopped. Our communities have never been consulted, and we insist that all the institutions of the State respect our constitutional rights, but specially the right to live in a healthy environment free of contamination; to be consulted, and of choosing the place of residence.
PRESS COMMITTEE; CONSEJO DE DESARROLLO COMUNITARIO (Community Development Council)