28/10 Police Raid on My Home / Operativo Policial

By , October 28, 2006
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Trumped Up Charges and Collusion Between a Mining Company and the Government of Ecuador

The Police Raid on My House

By CARLOS ZORRILLA

REPRODUCED IN COUNTERPUNCH 26 OCTOBER
When I received the very early phone call around 6:15 on the morning of the 17th of October informing me that there were “very many policemen” headed my way, I did not hesitate. I closed down my computer, said goodbye to my son, and left my home. I didn’t even have to say goodbye to my wife. Since I had been connected to the Internet, and thus kept my line busy, I didn’t know for how long the person calling had been trying to reach me. The nearest place cars can drive to is a 15 minute easy walk from our home. Five to seven if you run. As it turned out, I had about 10 minutes to spare before the first group of police arrived looking for me. The nightmare had begun.

As I hid in the nearby forest more police arrived, some bearing automatic weapons, others wearing ski-masks and all in bullet-proof vests. They pointed their guns at my wife and son ordering them not to move and informed them that they were looking for me and that they had a search warrant to go into our home. They then burst into our home without the warrant looking for me. She insisted on seeing the warrant, and 20 minutes later a District Attorney from the city of Cayambe showed up supposedly bearing the warrants. When my wife asked the DA to show her the search warrant, he briefly showed it to her, but was not allowed to hold it and read it, but merely read it to her from several yards away. As she recalls, the warrant said that I had stolen some goods, but didn’t specify what. By then there were a total of 17 police around our home, and some entered our home (in all, 19 persons participated in the raid). Some of police wearing uniforms did not have name tags to identify them, and when asked to identify themselves, they refused. Some were very aggressive and violent, yelling and insulting my teenage son and wife, and at one point, pushing them aside for no reason.

Around this time, several police showed up with one of our workers, who had been violently roused out of bed by one of the agents. The police had broken into his home, without a search warrant and violently pushed Roberto down on the bed because he dared asked for his identity and called him all kinds of names, forcing him to hurry up and get dressed and accompany the agent down to our home.

Six police then went into our home and went through everything, but specially my room, which they tore apart. They threw the hundreds of books on my bookshelves on the ground, searched in every drawer and closet space, and forced open a locked wooden box where we kept cash. Outside, the police had taken Roberto to every farm building and cabin to search them. When my wife Sandy asked what they were looking for, they said it was anything that might be damaging to the State!

After about an hour or so, and after Roberto had returned to our home, the police said something to the effect that “we found nothing and that they should leave as they had other things to do”. My wife was at that moment outside the house comforting our son, who was extremely upset and angered by the police action, and especially the abusive way they had been treated. It was then that one of the police took Roberto away from the house under the pretense that he wanted to talk to him in private. From a distance of about a dozen meters he saw another police walk into the house. Minutes later this same police walks out of the house and talks to one of the officials, who then goes back into the house, and comes back with the hand gun and a plastic bag containing what they say was drugs that they had planted in our home. Recall that there was approximately 10 minutes time lapse between the time I received the warning and the time the police started arriving. Who, in their right mind and if impartial, will ever believe that if I had guns and drugs in my home that disposing them would not be the first thing I would have done before the police showed up? But then again, impartiality is not even a question here (the police, by the way, said they found the gun under a magazine in my son’s bookshelves, out in the open, and the so-called drugs were found right in the living room behind some books. BOTH ITEMS WERE “FOUND” AFTER MORE THAN ONE HOUR OF INTENSE SEARCHING.

To date, I’ve been able to certify that they took personal videocassettes, hundreds of CD-ROMs with personal information and photographs, DVDs, several thousand dollars in cash, and a debit card from a US bank. I am sure if I could return and go carefully through my house I will discover other missing things. It is not the missing stuff that is so upsetting, but the outright violation of our privacy, and our basic fundamental rights that are so deeply disturbing, and the ease how a transnational mining company can buy such gross violations.

It is also worth pointing out that according to several eye-witnesses, the police were transported in five unmarked cars, without license plates. Apparently, at least one car is said to belong to the mining company. In addition, eye-witnesses told me that they saw at least one person known to work for the mining company hanging around Santa Rosa, the village closest to my home, the night before the raid. The same person, accompanied by others known to support the mining company and perhaps also being employed by them, were also waiting for the police the day of the raid. No doubt hoping to see the police take me in handcuffs.

Some of you are no doubt wondering why I would leave my wife and son to confront such a situation on their own. We, in fact, had discussed this probable scenario before, concluding that if it ever came to pass, that I would leave because it was clear that it was not them, but me the company was after.

For nearly three years I, along with other leaders of the resistance to Ascendant Copper Corporation’s mining project, have been subjected to countless instances of intimidation, including death threats, criminal lawsuits, and very dirty defamation campaigns against DECOIN and me personally. I knew I was one of the main leaders they were after, and that they wanted me out of action really badly. All along, the company’s CEO has been badly mislead into thinking that the opposition is based on the leadership of a few people. They could hardly be more wrong. The resistance to their mining project is deeply entrenched in Intag’s population.

The Made-up Accusation
But to understand what a bunch of police and a crooked DA were doing in my home at 6:15 in the morning with 17 heavily armed thugs and bearing a search and a arrest warrant against me, we have to go back to the events of July 13th 2006 outside the doors of the Ministry of Energy and Mines in Quito.

On that date, approximately 400 people from Intag had marched down Amazonas Avenue to demand that the Minister of Energy and Mines meet with Intag officials and force Ascendant Copper to leave the Intag area. I went mostly along to photograph the event (later producing a 15 minute photo video with my older son) All of a sudden I was called to a smaller crowd that had broken away from the main crowd, and told to translate, because there were some women distributing anti-Decoin information. When I arrived, there were approximately 50 people surrounding the two foreign-looking women, demanding an explanation of why they were there. My youngest son, Martin was already there and translating, and I just had time to ask the older women, Leslie Chaplin and her companion, who it was that had hired them to do this. All they said was that a friend had hired them. I then became aware that the crowd had started to block the traffic on the street, and was worried for their safety. As I left to try and move the crowd out of the street I do remember distinctly saying to the crowd “don’t do anything to them”. I was concerned that if there was violence on the part of the crowd, it would be used to smear the opposition even more. That was the last I saw of the Ms. Chaplin and her companion. But a few days later, Ms. Chaplin filed robbery and assault charges against me, saying that I had stolen a $1200 video camera and $500 in cash. It’s worth emphasizing that the whole exchange with Ms. Chaplin was not only witnessed by several dozen witnesses, but also was photographs by several photographers, and filmed by at least one person.

Based on these made-up charges, likely orchestrated by the company, Ecuador’s legal system initiated a criminal lawsuit against me, but without notifying me. The court appointed a public defender, who also failed to notify me I was charged, so that I could present evidence during the 90 day period assigned to prove I was innocent. When the 90 day period expired, the District Attorney asked the judge to issue the warrants, and it was then that they mysteriously were able to find me.

As it stands now, if I am arrested, I will have to remain jailed until early January, which is the period assigned to the trial. The lawyer defending me will try to get the arrest order revoked, but he admits this is will be very difficult. The more so because of the “new evidence” against me that the police planted in my home, and which undoubtedly result in new criminal lawsuits.

Public pressure will play a very important role in the outcome of this outrageous miscarriage of justice. This means letters written denouncing all this, contacting the press, and letters of support. Already, many of you have done some of this, and I am deeply moved by the amount of support I’ve received. Please don’t give up. Help make this Ascendant’s last mistake in Ecuador.

Carlos Zorrilla is a environmental organizer in Ecuador.

How You Can Help
Please write to the Minister of Government and Police, Antonio Andretta A., with copies to the other people listed below, expressing your concern that questionable and unverified accusations are being used to intimidate and defame a reputable and upstanding community leader, and urging that the circumstances of both the complaint and the police raid be fully and expeditiously investigated.
Contact addresses:

Abogado Antonio Andretta Arizaga
Ministro de Gobierno y Policía
Calle Benalcazar y Espejo
Quito – Ecuador
informacion@mingobierno.gov.ec
fax +593 258-0067

Dr. Claudio Muecay Arcos
Defensor del Pueblo
Av. de la Prensa N54-97 y Jorge Piedra
Quito – Ecuador
fax +593 2 330-1841
contacto(at)defensordelpueblo.gov.ec

Ingeniero Ivan Rodriguez
Ministro de Energia y Minas
Juan Leon Mera y Av. Orellana, Ed. MOP
Quito – Ecuador
e-mail via www.menergia.gov.ec/secciones/extras/contacto.aspx
Fax: +593 2 290-6350

His Excellency Fernando Ribadeneira
Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador
50 O’Connor Street, Suite 316,
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L2
Canada
Telephone (613) 563-8206, 4286/1-866-204-1735 (24h)
Fax (613) 235-5776
e-mail: mecuacan(at)sprint.ca

Hna. Elsie Monge
Directora Ejecutiva
Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos CEDHU
Carlos Ibarra 176 y 10 de Agosto
Quito – Ecuador
fax +593 2 258-9272
e-mail: cedhu(at)cedhu.org
NEWS BULLETING on the police report at:
http://www.cedhu.org/html/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=360

Christian Lapointe
Canadian Ambassador to Ecuador
Embajada de Canada
Av. 6 de Diciembre 2816 y Paul Rivet
Quito, Ecuador
P.O. Box 17-11-6512
Tel: (011 593 2) 2232-114/2506-162
Fax: (011 593 2) 2503-108
e-mail: quito@dfait-maeci.gc.ca

Gary E. Davis
President and CEO
Ascendant Copper Corporation
10920 West Alameda Avenue, Suite 201
Lakewood, CO 80226
USA
Tel: (303) 824-0271
Fax: (303) 297-0538
www.ascendantcopper.com
e-mail: info(at)ascendantcopper.com

Sasha Angus
Director, Enforcement Division
British Columbia Securities Commission
701 West Georgia Street
P.O. Box 10142, Pacific Centre
Vancouver, B.C. V7Y 1L2
Canada
Telephone: 604-899-6500
Fax: 604-899-6506
www.bcsc.bc.ca
e-mail: inquiries(at)bcsc.bc.ca

Mary Ellen Fieweger
Editor
Periódico Intag/Intag Newspaper
Casilla 211
Otavalo, Imbabura
Ecuador
www.intagnewspaper.org

Silvia Quilumbango
President
DECOIN (Defensa y Conservacion Ecologica de Intag)
P.O. Box 144
Otavalo, Imbabura
Ecuador
Phone/Fax: (5936 648 593)
e-mail: decoin(at)hoy.net and czintag(at)yahoo.com
www.decoin.org
Titulo: Acusaciones amaniadas y colusion entre una compania minera y el gobierno de Ecuador

El allanamiento policial de mi casa
Autor: CARLOS ZORRILLA, CounterPunch, 26 de octubre de 2006
Traducido del ingles para Rebelion por German Leyens y revisado por el autor
(tildes y enies fueron eliminadas para que mejor se lea en la pagina web.. cz )

Cuando recibi, muy temprano por la maniana, a las 6.15 del 17 de octubre, un llamado telefonico informandome que venian “muchisimos policias” a mi casa, no dude ni un instante. Cerre mi ordenador, me despedi de mi hijo, y me fui. Ni siquiera tuve que despedirme de mi esposa. Ya que habia estado conectado a Internet, y por lo tanto mi linea habia estado ocupada, no sabia durante cuanto tiempo la persona que me llamo habia estado tratando de contactarme. El sitio mas cercano al que pueden llegar los coches esta a 15 minutos a pie de nuestra casa. Cinco o siete si corres. Resulto que tenia unos minutos a mi disposicion antes de que el primer grupo de policias llegara a buscarme. Habia comenzado la pesadilla.

Mientras me ocultaba en el bosque mas cercano, llegaron mas policias, algunos con armas automaticas, otros con pasamontanias y todos con chalecos a prueba de balas. Apuntaron sus armas hacia mi mujer y mi hijo y les ordenaron que no se movieran, les dijeron que me buscaban y que tenian una orden de allanamiento para entrar a nuestra casa. Luego irrumpieron en nuestro hogar sin la orden, buscandome. Mi esposa insistio en ver la orden, y 20 minutos mas tarde un fiscal de la ciudad de Cayambe se presento, supuestamente con la orden. Cuando mi mujer le pidio que le mostrara la orden de registro, se la mostro brevemente, pero no le permitio que la tuviera en sus manos y la leyera, sino que simplemente se la leyo a varios metros de distancia. Recuerda que la orden decia que yo habia robado algunos bienes, pero que no especificaba cuales. En ese momento ya habia un total de 17 policias alrededor de nuestra casa, y varios entraron (en total participaron 19 personas en la incursion). Algunos de los policias uniformados no llevaban placas de identidad que los identificaran, y cuando se les solicito que se identificaran, se negaron. Algunos se portaron de modo muy agresivo y violento, gritando e insultando a mi hijo adolescente y a mi mujer, empujandolos a un lado sin razon alguna.

Aproximadamente en ese momento, se presentaron varios policias con uno de nuestros trabajadores, que habia sido sacado violentamente de su cama por uno de los agentes. El policia habia irrumpido en su casa, sin una orden de allanamiento y lo lanzo violentamente sobre su cama porque se atrevio a pedirle su identidad, utilizando toda clase de insultos, obligandolo a apurarse y vestirse para acompaniarlo a nuestra casa.
Seis policias entraron entonces a nuestra casa y lo revisaron todo, especialmente mi habitacion, que fue totalmente destrozada. Tiraron al piso los cientos de libros de mi biblioteca, registraron todos los cajones y el espacio del closet, y rompieron una caja de madera, en la que guardabamos dinero bajo llave. Afuera, la policia habia llevado a Roberto a todos los edificios y cabanias de la granja para registrarlos. ¡Cuando mi mujer, Sandy, pregunto que es lo que buscaban, dijeron que cualquier cosa que pudiera ser daniina para el Estado!

Despues de cerca de una hora, y de que Roberto volviera a nuestra casa, la policia dijo algo en el sentido de que “no encontramos nada y que se irian porque tenian otras cosas que hacer”. Mi esposa en ese momento se encontraba fuera de la casa tranquilizando a nuestro hijo, que estaba extremadamente inquieto y enfurecido por la accion policial, y especialmente por la manera abusiva en la que habian sido tratados. Entonces uno de los policias llevo a Roberto lejos de la casa fingiendo que queria hablar con el en privado. Desde unos doce metros vio a otro policia que entraba a la casa. Minutos despues el mismo policia salio de la casa y hablo con uno de los oficiales, que volvio a la casa, y salio con la pistola y una bolsa de plastico con lo que dijeron eran drogas, que habian colocado en nuestra casa. Hay que tener presente que transcurrieron cerca de 10 minutos desde que recibi la advertencia y la llegada de la policia. ¿Que persona en sus cabales e imparcial, creera jamas que si hubiese tenido armas y drogas en mi casa no me habria librado de ellas antes de la llegada de la policia? Pero, claro, la imparcialidad no es un tema en este caso (la policia, a proposito, dijo que habia encontrado el arma bajo una revista en la biblioteca de mi hijo, asi, al descubierto, y que las asi llamadas drogas fueron encontradas directamente en la sala de estar, tras unos libros. LOS DOS OBJETOS FUERON “ENCONTRADOS” SOLO DESPUES DE MAS DE UNA HORA DE INTENSA BUSQUEDA.

Hasta ahora, he podido certificar que se llevaron videos personales, cientos de CD-ROMs con informacion personal y fotografias, DVDs, varios miles de dolares en efectivo, y una tarjeta de debito de un banco USamericano. Estoy seguro que si pudiera volver y revisar cuidadosamente toda la casa descubriria que faltan otras cosas. Lo que es tan inquietante no es lo que falta, sino la violacion violenta de nuestra privacidad y de nuestros derechos mas fundamentales, asi como la facilidad con la que una compania minera transnacional puede comprar quebrantamientos tan brutales.

Tambien vale la pena senialar que segun varios testigos presenciales, la policia fue transportada en varios coches sin identificacion, sin placas. Aparentemente, dicen, por lo menos un coche pertenece a la compania minera. Ademas, testigos presenciales me dijeron que vieron a una persona que es conocida por trabajar para la compania minera dando vueltas por Santa Rosa, la aldea mas cercana a mi casa, la noche antes de la incursion. La misma persona, acompaniada por otras conocidas por su apoyo a la compania minera y tal vez tambien empleadas por ella, tambien estaba esperando a la policia el dia de la incursion. Sin duda esperaban ver a la policia llevandome esposado.

Algunos de ustedes se preguntan sin duda por que deje a mi esposa y a mi hijo para que enfrentaran solos una situacion parecida. Nosotros, en realidad, habiamos discutido una posibilidad semejante con anterioridad, concluyendo que si jamas llegaba a ocurrir, yo me iria porque era evidente que el perseguido por la compania era yo, no ellos.

Durante unos tres anios yo, junto con otros dirigentes de la resistencia al proyecto minero de Ascendant Copper Corporation, nos hemos visto sometidos a innumerables casos de intimidacion, incluyendo amenazas de muerte, juicios penales, e inmundas campanias de difamacion contra DECOIN (Defensa y Conservacion Ecologica de Intag) y personalmente en mi contra. Sabia que era uno de los principales dirigentes que tenian en su mira, y que querian intensamente ponerme fuera de accion. Desde el principio, el presidente de la compania fue llevado a creer erroneamente que la oposicion se basa en el liderazgo de unos pocos. No podian estar mas equivocados. La resistencia a su proyecto minero esta profundamente arraigada en la poblacion de Intag.

La acusacion amaniada

Pero, para comprender lo que un puniado de policias y un fiscal deshonesto hacian en mi casa a las 6.15 de la maniana con 17 matones fuertemente armados y con una orden de allanamiento y de arresto en mi contra, tenemos que volver a los eventos del 13 de julio de 2006 frente a las puertas del Ministerio de Energia y Minas en Quito.

Ese dia, aproximadamente unas 400 personas de Intag habian bajado por la Avenida Amazonas para exigir que el Ministro de Energia y Minas se reuniera con funcionarios de Intag y obligara a Ascendant Copper a abandonar el area de Intag. Fui sobre todo para fotografiar el evento (produje posteriormente un fotovideo de 15 minutos con mi hijo mayor). De repente me llamaron a un grupo mas pequenio que se habia separado de la multitud principal, y me pidieron que tradujera, porque habia algunas mujeres repartiendo informacion contra Decoin. Cuando llegue, habia aproximadamente unas 50 personas rodeando a dos mujeres de aspecto extranjero, exigiendo una explicacion de lo que estaban haciendo alli. Mi hijo mas joven, Martin, ya estaba presente, traduciendo, y apenas tuve tiempo para preguntar a la mujer mayor, Leslie Chaplin y a su acompaniante, quien las habia contratado para hacerlo. Todo lo que dijeron fue que una amiga las habia contratado. Entonces me di cuenta de que la multitud habia comenzado a bloquear el trafico en la calle, y me preocupo su seguridad. Mientras me iba para tratar de sacar a la multitud de la calzada, recuerdo claramente que dije a la gente: “no les hagan nada”. Estaba preocupado de que si habia violencia por parte de la multitud, seria utilizada para calumniar aun mas a la oposicion. Fue lo ultimo que vi de la seniora Chaplin y de su companiera. Pero unos pocos dias despues, dicha seniora presento acusaciones de robo y asalto en mi contra, diciendo que le habia robado una camara de video de 1.200 dolares y 500 dolares en efectivo. Vale la pena subrayar que todo el intercambio con la seniora Chaplin no solo fue presenciado por varias docenas de testigos, sino que tambien fue fotografiado por varios fotografos, y filmado por lo menos por una persona.

Sobre la base de estas acusaciones amaniadas, probablemente orquestadas por la compania, el sistema legal ecuatoriano inicio un juicio penal en mi contra, pero sin notificarme. El tribunal nombro a un defensor publico, que tampoco me notifico que habia sido acusado para permitirme que presentara evidencia durante el periodo de 90 dias para probar mi inocencia. Cuando expiro el periodo de 90 dias, el fiscal del distrito le pidio al juez que expidiera los mandatos, y fue entonces cuando, misteriosamente, pudieron encontrarme.

Tal como estan las cosas, si me arrestan, tendre que permanecer encarcelado por lo menos hasta comienzos de enero, que es el periodo asignado para el juicio. El abogado que me defiende tratara de lograr que se revoque la orden de arresto, pero admite que sera muy dificil. Tanto mas por la “nueva evidencia” en mi contra colocada por la policia en mi casa, que indudablemente llevara a nuevas demandas penales.

La presion publica jugara un papel muy importante en el resultado de este vergonzoso abuso de la justicia. Esto significa que es necesario que se escriban cartas denunciando todo esto, que se contacte a la prensa, y que se envien cartas de apoyo. Muchos de ustedes ya lo han hecho, y me emociona profundamente todo el apoyo que he recibido. Por favor no cedan en sus esfuerzos. Ayuden a que sea el ultimo error de Ascendant en Ecuador.

Carlos Zorrilla es un activista ecologico en Ecuador.
Como podeis ayudar

Por favor escribid al Ministro de Gobierno y Policia, Antonio Andretta A., enviando copias a las otras personas mencionadas a continuacion, expresando vuestra preocupacion de que se utilicen acusaciones dudosas y no verificadas para intimidar y difamar a un reputado y destacado dirigente comunitario, y urgiendo que se investiguen completa y rapidamente las circunstancias relacionadas con la acusacion y la incursion policial.

Direcciones de contacto:

Abogado Antonio Andretta Arizaga
Ministro de Gobierno y Policia
Calle Benalcazar y Espejo
Quito – Ecuador
informacion@mingobierno.gov.ec
fax +593 258-0067

Dr. Claudio Muecay Arcos
Defensor del Pueblo
Av. de la Prensa N54-97 y Jorge Piedra
Quito – Ecuador
fax +593 2 330-1841
contacto@defensordelpueblo.gov.ec

Ingeniero Ivan Rodriguez
Ministro de Energia y Minas
Juan Leon Mera y Av. Orellana, Ed. MOP
Quito – Ecuador
e-mail via www.menergia.gov.ec/secciones/extras/contacto.aspx
Fax: +593 2 290-6350

Su Excelencia Fernando Ribadeneira
Embajador en Canada
Embajada de la Republica de Ecuador
50 O’Connor Street, Suite 316,
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L2
Canada
Telefono (613) 563-8206, 4286/1-866-204-1735 (24h)
Fax (613) 235-5776
e-mail: mecuacan@sprint.ca

Hna. Elsie Monge
Directora Ejecutiva
Comision Ecumenica de Derechos Humanos CEDHU
Carlos Ibarra 176 y 10 de Agosto
Quito – Ecuador
fax +593 2 258-9272
e-mail: cedhu@cedhu.org

Boletin de Prensa sobre este aconteciiento:
http://www.cedhu.org/html/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=360

Christian Lapointe
Canadian Ambassador to Ecuador
Embajada de Canada
Av. 6 de Diciembre 2816 y Paul Rivet
Quito, Ecuador
P.O. Box 17-11-6512
Tel: (011 593 2) 2232-114/2506-162
Fax: (011 593 2) 2503-108
e-mail: quito@dfait-maeci.gc.ca

Gary E. Davis
President and CEO
Ascendant Copper Corporation
10920 West Alameda Avenue, Suite 201
Lakewood, CO 80226
USA
Tel: (303) 824-0271
Fax: (303) 297-0538
www.ascendantcopper.com
e-mail: info@ascendantcopper.com

Sasha Angus
Director, Enforcement Division
British Columbia Securities Commission
701 West Georgia Street
P.O. Box 10142, Pacific Centre
Vancouver, B.C. V7Y 1L2
Canada
Telephone: 604-899-6500
Fax: 604-899-6506
www.bcsc.bc.ca
e-mail: inquiries@bcsc.bc.ca

Mary Ellen Fieweger
Editor
Periodico Intag/Intag Newspaper
Casilla 211
Otavalo, Imbabura
Ecuador
www.intagnewspaper.org

Silvia Quilumbango
President
DECOIN (Defensa y Conservacion Ecologica de Intag)
P.O. Box 144
Otavalo, Imbabura
Ecuador
Phone/Fax: (5936 648 593)
e-mail: decoin@hoy.net e intagcz@yahoo.com
www.decoin.org
http://www.counterpunch.org/zorrilla10262006.html

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