Quito in Flood- March 22nd. Mining leading issue for marchers.
(petición de 19 puntos de la marcha más adelante)
In spite of the childish claim by government officials (including President Correa) that the march was a total failure; in spite of countless obstacles the marchers had to overcome to reach Quito, including police checks and constant rains since the start of the March two weeks ago, as well as ridiculous accusations of intent to destabilize the government, tens of thousands of marchers opposed to the Correa regime’s policies arrived safely in Quito, and were joined by countless thousands of Quito residents who enthusiastically supported the marchers.
At this moment, the marchers are walking to the National Assembly to present their legislative representatives a 19-point petition for the government to act to resolve the issues that sparked the march (see below). Mining, as you can see, continues to be a main factor in the march. However, it is not at all likely that Correa will change course regarding mining. A little while ago he again- and vociferously- defended mining in front of his supporters. What a guy!
The strength of the march took Ecuador by surprise. Correa on the 8th of March said that if the marchers came with 500, he and his followers would be 50,000. Seems he got the numbers backwards, though he claimed today that it was just a few hundred!! Thousands did come to cheer Correa, but many were paid bureaucrats who were pressured into showing their spontaneous support for the president. Luckily, as of the time of writing, the two groups have not confronted each other.
These 19 points that will be presented to legislators today are (Spanish follow)
- We demand full respect for the Constitution and the repeal of unconstitutional laws and regulations.
- No to large-scale mining. Repeal of the mining law as unconstitutional, and the signing of the contract with the mining company ECSA, on March 5.
- Not to the extension of the petroleum fronteir. Respect the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples.
- Suspension of operations in blocque 31.**
- No mega hydroelectric works that generate social and environmental impacts.
- Approval of the Water Act for the “good life” (Sumak Kawsay) that includes respect for, and guarantee the right to water.
- Approval of the Lands and Territories Act providing for an agricultural model that ensures food security.
- No to the signing of the free trade agreement with the European Union.
- Effective protection against taxes of popular and campesino economies.
- Recognition of community transport, reform of the Land Transport Traffic and Road Safety law. Strengthening of the IESS and require the State to pay back the debt that it has with this entity, as well as equip hospitals.
- Respect for labor rights; respect the guarantee of job security and union rights.
- Respect and guarantee of the right to education.
- Repeal of the Unified General Baccalaureate and the National System of Equalization and Admission.
- Respect for sexual and reproductive rights. Equality between women and men.
- Real democratization of information and respect for the professional practice of journalism.
- No criminalization of the social protest, elimination of the court cases against leaders.
- Fulfill the right to prior consultation of Ecuador’s communities.
- Respect for the judicial functions of the administration of indigenous justice, and respect for community governments. Respect for the autonomy of (indigenous) nations and nationalities.
- No verbal aggression against (indigenous) nations, nationalities and social organizations
*Ecsa is the chinese-owned mining company ready to open up the country’s first open-pit mine in the south of the country
**Bloque 31 refers to a petroleum extraction site within the Yasuni Park.
- Exigimos la plena vigencia de la Constitución y de la derogatoria de normas y leyes inconstitucionales.
- No a la minería a gran escala. Derogatoria de la ley minera por ser inconstitucional y de la firma del contrato minero con ECSA del 5 de marzo.
- No a la extensión de la frontera petrolera. Respeto a la autodeterminación de los pueblos.
- Suspensión de las operaciones del bloque 31.
- No a los megaproyectos eléctricos que generan enormes impactos sociales y ambientales.
- Aprobación de la Ley del Agua para el buen vivir que contemple el respeto y garantía del derecho al agua.
- Aprobación del al Ley de Tierras y Territorios que contemple un modelo agrario que garantice la seguridad alimentaria.
- No la firma de acuerdo de Libre Comercio con la Unión Europea.
- Protección efectiva de las economías populares y campesinas frente a los impuestos.
- Reconocimiento del transporte comunitario, reforma a la ley de Transporte Terrestre Tránsito y Seguridad Vial. Fortalecimiento del IESS y exigir el pago de la deuda que el Estado mantiene con esta entidad, además del equipamiento de los hospitales.
- Respeto a los derechos laborales, exigir la garantía de la estabilidad laboral y derecho sindical.
- Respeto y garantía del derecho a la educación.
- Derogatoria del Bachillerato General Unificado y del Sistema Nacional de Nivelación y Admisión.
- Respeto a los derechos sexuales y reproductivos. La igualdad entre mujeres y hombres.
- Democratización real de la información y respeto al ejercicio profesional del periodismo.
- No a la criminalización de la protesta social, eliminación de los juicios a los dirigentes.
- Cumplimiento del derecho a la consulta previa en las comunas y comunidades del Ecuador.
- Respeto a las funciones jurisdiccionales de la administración de la justicia indígena y respeto a los gobiernos comunitarios. Respeto a la autonomía de los pueblos y nacionalidades.
- No a la agresión verbal de los pueblos, nacionalidades y organizaciones sociales
I felt the need to address all Ecuadoreans in a fraternal dialogue, not onlyto explain our reasons for taking part in the “Plurinational March for Water,Life and Dignity of the Peoples of Ecuador” but also to encourage social dialogue between everyone in the country, especially among all those who are fighting for a different world, a better world, a more humane world, respectful of the Life of our Pacha Mama (Mother Earth), a world without borders, because if we destroy it with the capitalist extractivism, we destroy ourselves, and condemn our children to live in a world torn apart by the greed for power and wealth of politicians, insensitive to planetary life.
So begins Conaie’s very eloquent letter to the people of Ecuador (link below), that aims at motivating massive participation in tomorrow’s national protest against Correa’s extractive, and other policies.
CONAIE will not be alone in the protest. In fact, unlike other indigenous people’s marches, this time CONAIE is heavily backed by a wide-spectrum of organizations and groups (overwhelmingly from the left), ranging from environmentalists and women’s groups, to teachers, students, and campesino organizations. Hundreds of organizations have joined CONAIE, and are taking the opportunity to express their dismay and outright rejection of many of the current regime’s policies, as well as denouncing what they see as his racists attitude. I cannot recall a anti-government protest having a more broad-based support in Ecuador in the 34 years I’ve been living here.
The concern about mining’s impacts in Ecuador’s biodiverse Condor Range might have sparked the the March, but it has grown much bigger than anyone expected, picking up support from most of the country’s leftist circles, and incorporating the concerns of people from all walks of life.
As a consequence of the march, Correa’s mining agenda will never be the same after the 22nd.
Unfortunately, and reflecting the government’s dismal confrontational style- which is one of the reasons people are on the streets- President Correa called for pro-government marches on the same day, alerting his loyal followers that the marchers are trying to destabilize his government. This, in spite of the fact that CONAIE has repeated over and over again that there is no intent whatsoever at destabilizing the government.
In order to secure “enough bodies”, government officials have resorted to very sleazy tactics of forcing bureaucrats from all over the country to be in Quito on the 22nd. There will be police checkpoints to stop buses carrying protesters, but will let pass government supporters. At the same time, government loyalist have already occupied key gathering places in Quito to prevent marchers from occupying them, in what is seen as a clear provocation. . Over 100,000 people are expected to take part in the different marches, and classes have been suspended in Quito.
And, yes, Intag will be participating in the march! In fact, Intag folks have accompanied the marchers since it started, on March 8th.
KEEP TUNED, this is going to be interesting
The link to the CONAIE letter (in Spanish only for now) Keep tuned