News, Dec 2010
Four years of impunity.
This month marks the fourth anniversary of the paramilitary attack on the Junin community paid for by Copper Mesa Mining Corporation. It is four years and one month since the paramilitary incursion into the Barcelona and Cerro Pelado communities. Also paid by the mining company. Four years and two months since the trumped up charges and illegal lawsuit against Carlos Zorrilla that led to
the police raid to his home and the planting of a gun and drugs inside his house by a police. FOUR YEARS OF IMPUNITY. No one has been arrested, or even investigated. None of the prosecutors or judges that allowed the outrageously illegal judicial set up has been suspended, much less charged with crimes. None of the paramilitaries or the companies that hired them were ever charged with anything. In other words, nothing happened in Intag. Nothing happened in the Canada, where the lawsuits by the three Junin community members suing the Toronto Stock Exchange and the mining company, who paid for all this illegality and outrage, was thrown out. The decision was appealed, but only after the law firm in Canada working pro-bono put up $12,000 for the appeal to go ahead (a final decision is expected by January or February)
Forests and reforestation:
We’ve been buying hundreds of hectares of forests for the communities and the Cuellaje Parish government reserve. About 1200 hectares in the past few months.
Thanks to Geo schutzl den Regenwald, in November of 2010, DECOIN published a full-color community reforestation manual with valuable information on setting up community nurseries and working with the native tree species. In the next few months, reforestation with 16,000 trees will start up again.
On September of 2010, we received news that the government had put aside $180,000.00 to reactivate the Junin mining project (since then, the information was withdrawn from the government site). This news was followed by a newspaper report on the government’s plans to develop seven mining project, including Junin.
This time, the project would be developed by the State-owned, National Mining Company, Enami, and with public funding. However, on the ground we’ve not seen any signs of the company’s presence. What we have seen is strong presence of government agencies (as many as five Ministries) offering communities and campesinos families all kinds of housing and credit subsidies; especially around the mining area. This could very well be part of a long-range campaign to get support for the government’s intent on reactivating the Junin mine.
Lawyers and more mining hassles. During the past six months, DECOIN has been assisting the community of Barcelona (in the Selva Alegre municipality), with legal support to help them close down a limestone mine that has caused a lot of environmental and social problems. The mine has been illegally operating for years without proper permits, but the government refuses to close the mine or fine the owners. Eight campesinos are facing charges in court related to the peaceful protests, and they are being defended by two lawyers that DECOIN hired.
• El Rosal. The community group from El Rosal produces soaps, shampoos and cream, and is one of the more solid groups in the area. They asked DECOIN to help them stop a new mining company that wants to develop another limestone mine close to their community, and which would impact the community’s water source. We’ve hired the services of a lawyer to try to stop this illegal mine from opening.
El Paraiso. El Paraiso is a community west of Junin and bordering the Chontal Protected Forest. People from that area have asked us for legal support to denounce the apparent illegality of the gold exploration, and ask the owners of the mining concession to present all legal permits. One of the worrisome aspects of this new company is that the owner of the concession- a private individual- is working with engineers from Codelco- the world’s largest copper producing company (owned by the Chilean government). We hired the same lawyer representing the campesinos in Barcelona for legal assistance in this case.
Carlos’ lawsuit against Ecuacorriente. Im happy to report that the lawsuit I presented against Ecuacorrientes, a Corriente Resources subsidiary (Canadian mining company), has been accepted as valid by the court. I am suing the company for libel in relation to a documentary they helped produce in which I they portray me in very unfavorable light (by which i mean that they imply that I am responsible for the anti-mining movement in the south of Ecuador).
Information on mining. We’ve created seven radio messages with mining information for communities which will be broadcasted in Intag and other areas of Ecuador (in Dec it started on two radio stations). This activity also includes buying air time in two, and possibly four radios. We have also made these radio messages available for free to other communities in Ecuador for their use. Carlos has also written two essays on mining in Ecuador, one of which was published in a book form by FLACSO, one of Ecuador’s most prestigious university. The other is set to be published next year (also by Flacso).
Water and Biodiversity Forum.
In spite of rainy weather, this past November 19th, we held the V Water and Biodiversity Forum in Pucará. Approximately 130 representatives from communities and showed up from all over Intag to attend the most popular environmental gathering in the area. This is the fifth year Prodeci, a local development organization, has helped us carry out the forum. One of the more worthwhile news to report from the gathering is that Karen Knee, a Fullbright Phd student, reported the findings from her analysis of the water in community reserves to date. She reported that the water from the community reserves is comparable to the water coming out of natural forested areas. That is, very clean, and potable!! That, of course, made us all at DECOIN very happy and extremely proud to be involved in the community watershed project (which, unfortunately, is currently not being funded).
We helped 15 groups of high school kids pay for the part of the transportation costs so they can attend the three normal high schools in the area (Peñaherrera, Apuela and Garcia Moreno). In addition to this, and as reported elsewhere, we helped the Chalguyacu Bajo distance high-school education group (around 55 students) build their classroom, which is nearly finished. They are accepting donations to complete the building and furnish it.
We also distributed the Great kapok tree to 1,500 second grade kids in I can’t remember how many grade-schools. It was a huge hit. (please see our web site for more details on our activities).
We also plan to produce children’s programs on the environment, and will be buying air time on Radio Intag to broadcast the programs. DECOIN’s support for Radio Intag has been essential to keep the radio from going bankrupt. We believe it is absolutely essential to keep the radio in the hands of communities and organizations. Unfortunately, no other organization has helped in any meaningful way to keep the radio afloat.
This is a brief summary of our current work- please see our web site for more information.