Carnivore ‘teddy bear’ emerges from the mists of Ecuador

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By , August 16, 2013

A new species of carnivore discovered in Ecuadorian Cloud Forests??

Enami-Codelco no logran apoyo en Intag

Cloud forests are one of the ecosystems where new species are more likely to be found… but a mammal?  a carnivore?   Recently, right here in Intag,  a biologist working on an Environmental Impact Study for the paving of the main road to Intag, captured a bat species that was not supposed to be anywhere these forests (not anywhere on this side of the Andes in fact).  It could easily turn out to be a yet a new species to science.  Ask yourself in how many of the world’s ecosystems can one discover a species like the Olinguito or a new species of bat within months of each other?  Now recall that cloud forests make up less than 2.5% of the world’s tropical forests and that,  in Ecuador, they are severely threatened.  

These are the same forests the Ecuadorian government has earmarked for sacrifice to feed the devouring vision of well-being involving open pit mining:  More roads, more clinics, more computers in schools, less forests, less clean water, less biological diversity; more climate and social upheaval.  Will we ever get over the economic-trumps-over-everything mentality??

And while on the subject, a few minutes ago President Correa announced the termination of the Yasuni-ITT initiative.  The decision clears the way for the exploitation of heavy crude lying underneath one of the most biodiverse forests on the fact of Planet Earth. Yasuni is also a national park.  The decision, I strongly believe,  is also a watershed decision, for it makes it much more likely that other protected areas will, sooner or later, be opened for mining and petroleum extraction.

This shines a dark light on a problem I’ve raised before on our site:  the problem with paper parks, those where communities are not directly and actively involved in their protection.   At least here in Intag, we can guarantee the protection of the overwhelming majority of protected areas, which we (Decoin)  made sure are in the hands of the communities and that the communities derive some tangible benefit from, such as safe water, or destinations for ecological tourism.  If you want to guarantee protection, tis the only way…

Now for the great article from the Guardian

Carnivore ‘teddy bear’ emerges from the mists of Ecuador

Olinguito is the first new carnivore identified in western hemisphere for 35 years, bringing 100 years of mistaken identity to an end

Fotografía cedida por el Instituto Smithsonian que muestra un olinguito (Bassaricycon neblina) la primera especie de carnívoro descubierta en Ecuador  los últimos 35 años. Foto: EFE.

A small, wide-eyed beast with luxuriant orange fur has been identified as a new species more than 100 years after it first went on display in the world’s museums.

The discovery brings to an end one of the longest zoological cases of mistaken identity and establishes the “olinguito” (which rhymes with mojito) as the first new carnivore recorded in the western hemisphere for 35 years.

The animal – which has been described as a cross between a teddy bear and a house cat – had been displayed in museums around the globe and exhibited at numerous US zoos for decades without scientists grasping that it had been mislabelled.

One adult female, named Ringerl, was kept at Louisville zoo in the 1960s, but was moved to Tucson zoo, to the Smithsonian’s National zoo, and to the Bronx zoo after keepers repeatedly failed in their attempts to breed the animal. The reason for that failure is now clear: it was a different species to the mates on offer.

The true identity of the overlooked beast only emerged after Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, launched a 10-year investigation into an obscure group of raccoon-like mammals called olingos. What began with a drawer-full of remains ended with a nighttime trek through the cloud forests of Ecuador, where scientists photographed the creature living in the trees.


“If you look up olingos in a book today, pretty much everyone says we don’t know quite how many species there are, what their ranges are, and which are endangered. I set out to resolve all that, I wanted to put olingos on the map,” Helgen told the Guardian.

“But in the process of trying to do that, and because we were the first group in generations to look closely at his part of the carnivore family tree, we revealed this incredible and beautiful animal that everyone had overlooked,” he said.

The moment of realisation came when Helgen was going through skins and skulls of mammals at the Field Museum in Chicago. “I pulled out a drawer and there were these brilliant, beautiful orange-red pelts with long flowing fur. It was nothing like olingo fur. I then looked at the skulls and the shape was very different. I wondered, ‘is this a mammal that’s been missed by every other zoologist?’ It turns out that it was,” he said.

The animal had been mistaken for an olingo because of some broad similarities, but these turned out to be superficial. Helgen’s animal was different on almost every measure: it was smaller, much furrier, had a shorter tail, different teeth, and smaller ears. “We are not talking about splitting hairs. If you saw the two animals side by side you would wonder how they could ever be confused,” Helgen said.

Convinced they had a new species on their hands, Helgen’s team arranged an expedition to the cloud forests of the Andes, where similar creatures had come from. Trekking at night through the dense vegetation, and accompanied by a chorus of frogs and crickets, they spotted other nocturnal beasts in the beams of their headtorches: kinkajous and porcupines.

“Eventually, there it was, an olinguito. We got it in the beam, running around, jumping from tree to tree, but getting close enough so that when it turned and looked into the beam we knew exactly what it was,” he said.

The olinguito is a carnivore, but the term has two meanings in biology. The most familiar is an animal that eats meat, but the other is any animal that belongs to the order Carnivora, which includes cats, dogs, tigers, bears and others. They are not all meat eaters, and the olinguito mostly eats fruit.

Working with local museums, the team later extracted DNA from animals on display and confirmed that some were olinguitos, a previously unknown relative of the olingo. They have since confirmed there are at least four sub-species of the animals.

The DNA evidence took the scientists back to the Smithsonian Institution. There they found that scientific databases already contained olinguito DNA that had been wrongly labelled as olingo. It also led them to tissues from a Colombian olinguito held in storage at the museum. They belonged to Ringerl, the unfortunate female that toured US zoos.

“We tracked down Ringerl’s keeper and asked why she moved her around so much. She said ‘we couldn’t get her to breed with any of the olingos.’ This animal wasn’t fussy, it just wasn’t the same species. It would have been impossible. It was a glorious case of mistaken identity,” said Helgen.

The name olinguito means small or adorable olingo, but writing in the journal ZooKeys, the team give the animal a formal scientific name too,Bassaricyon neblina. The species name, neblina, means “fog” or “mist” in Spanish, a nod to the cloud forests where the animal lives. But it also means obscured. “That’s exactly what the olinguito has been,” Helgen said. “Lost in the fog.”

Enami-Codelco no logran apoyo en Intag  Por favor ver este sitio de la Coordinadora Zonal de Intag



Flash Update, 14 July 2014,, Actualización Flash 14-07-2013

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By , July 15, 2013

Flash Update, July 14 2013

 June of this year saw the reactivation of the Community Development Council, which was the leading community organization involved in confronting Ascendant Copper Corporation during the years 2004-2008 in the Junín area.  As then, the president is Polivio Perez, and the organization saw fit to create three vice presidencies led by different community presidents from the mining project’s area of influence (the elected representatives include the presidents of Junín, Rosal, Cerro Pelado, Chalguyacu Bajo, and La Armenia).  Several Intag organizations also participated in the election process as observers and promised to support the community organization

 One of the first actions of the CDC was to stop some five vehicles from Enami the Ecuadorian mining company that were heading to Chalguyacu Alto for a meeting to socialize the decision taken without any community input to reactivate the Junín mining project.  About 30 community members met the Enami delegates in the Chalguyacu Bajo area (which included police) and asked them to respect the decision the CDC members had taken and not go to the meeting.  The community members, which later grew to between 80 and 100, argued that the communities did not want any more divisions and social conflicts due to the presence of the company.  Interestingly enough, the company complied, but not too long afterwards ,there were reports of five police squad cars in the town Garcia Moreno.  As of this post, no one knew what they were doing in Garcia Moreno.

 We are happy to announce the reactivation of the Intag Solidarity Network, which in the struggle against Ascendant played such an important role.  There are several International Observers in the Junín-Cerro Pelado area right now under the guidance of Cedhu, the prestigious Quito-based Human Rights Organization.  The observers are there as fair witnesses to record, denounce and hopefully avoid, any possible human rights violations.

 Actualización Flash, julio 2013

 Junio ​​de este año se reactivó el Consejo de Desarrollo Comunitario de García Moreno, que fue la principal organización comunitaria involucrada en los enfrentamiento Ascendant Copper Corporation durante el año 2004-2008 en el área de Junín. Al igual que en esos tiempos, el presidente es Polibio Pérez, y la organización tuvo a bien crear tres vicepresidencias encabezadas por distintos presidentes de la comunidad de la zona de influencia del proyecto minero (los representantes electos incluyen presidentes de Junín, Rosal, Cerro Pelado, Chalguyacu Bajo, y La Armenia). Varias organizaciones de Inteñas también participaron en el proceso electoral como observadores y se comprometieron a apoyar la organización de la comunitaria.

 Una de las primeras acciones de la CDC fue de conversar con los ocupantes de unos cinco vehículos de la empresa minera ecuatoriana- Enami- que se dirigían a Chalguyacu Alto a una reunión para socializar la decisión tomada sin ningún aporte de la comunidad para reactivar el proyecto minero Junín. Cerca de 30 miembros de la comunidad se reunieron con los delegados de Enami en la zona Chalguyacu Bajo (que incluía varios policías) y les pidieron respetar la decisión que los miembros del CDC habían tomado y no ir a la reunión. Los miembros de la comunidad, que luego creció a entre 80 y 100, argumentaron que las comunidades no querían más divisiones y conflictos sociales debido a la presencia de la empresa. Curiosamente, la empresa accedió, pero no pasó mucho tiempo antes de recibir informes de la presencia de cinco patrulleros de policía en la ciudad de García Moreno. Al momento de esta actualización, nadie sabía lo que estaban haciendo en García Moreno.

Red de Solidaridad de Intag

Estamos felices de anunciar la reactivación de la Red de Solidaridad de Intag, que en la lucha contra Ascendant jugó un papel tan importante. Hay varios observadores internacionales en el área de Junín-Cerro Pelado ahora bajo la dirección de la CEDHU, la prestigiosa organización de derechos humanos con sede en Quito. Los observadores están ahí como testigos para grabar, denuncian y ojalá evitar, posibles violaciones de derechos humanos.


Tweny-one Reasons Codelco Should Stay Away From Intag../ Veintiuna razones para que Codelco no se meta en Intag

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By , May 30, 2013
Twenty-One Reasons Why (Nortec,  Ascendant Copper)   Codelco Should Keep Away from Intag

After the communities kicked out Mitsubishi subsidiary, Bishimetals in 1997, mining has not gotten any easier for the companies.  Back when Nortec was showing interest in purchasing the shipwreck known as Ascendant Copper Corporation, I wrote the nineteen reasons to warn Nortec about some of the main problems they’d inherent in case the deal went through (it did not).   Then, the communities got rid of Ascendant Copper.  In the meantime, the list of reasons why any mining company should keep away from Intag grew and, though it’s really more like 42 reasons, twenty-one sounds better, and should more than suffice.

I think it disingenuous when companies say “we didn’t know”;; or “had we only known”, or even lamer yet:  “had the government made it clearer that…”  then they try to weasel out of assuming responsibility for their much ups.
Studies and more Studies.
To justify their existence in certain projects, mining companies, when  they can afford it, hire hot-shot NGO’s to carry out interviews and studies to ascertain popular perception on mining, identify key players, and confirm that they are loved. Then they actually go ahead and base their decisions on the study’s results!  As if an area’s complexity and attitudes could be studied in a few days or weeks. But, this is what the company and/or government apparently did last year when they went around asking some folks in Intag and Quito what they thought about mining in Intag. Then, when they tried to hold meetings in key communities, they were surprised that their presence was considered non-grata!
A Brand New Century.
If there’s anyone from Codelco reading this (as I’m sure there are), you probably know- or should know- as all responsible mining companies can attest to (as well as key players like the World Bank), that support from the Executive Branch of government is not nearly enough guarantee a project’s success. You need genuine (not manufactured or self-delusional) community and local government support.  In fact, national government support is no guarantee at all. So, do NOT bank on the government’s enthusiastic endorsement.  You’ll lose. Big time.
Why Bother?
Because I feel a responsibility to inform the good people of Chile, who have not the slightest idea of what their corporation is getting to here in Intag, that it’s a no-win situation for Codelco.  And, that in the process of trying to develop a mine in this minefield, their corporation will create utter and complete social chaos, and violate human and collective rights. And, if in spite of all the crystal-clear evidence that in the long run it’s a dead-end project, somehow Codelco is able to actually open the mine, it will be remembered as one of the biggest environmental nightmares of all time; right up there with the gold-copper Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea.
 I am positive that if most Chilenos find out about all the risks and obstacles facing the company’s expansion to Ecuador, they would firmly be against it.   This, then, is one more attempt to try to inform Chile’s population of the reality behind the lies and distortions being generated around the Junín mining project.
Here then, are the latest reasons why Codelco should not mess with Intag.
A. Based on the Bishi Metals Environmental Impact Assessment of mining in Intag, and on a small (450,000 ton) copper mine (a couple of years later they inferred 5x more)
1. Intag is no like the Atacama desert, where Codelco has its copper mines. Besides being super biodiverse, there are communities all over the place. According to the Study, the mining project would relocate hundreds of families from four communities.  Afterwards, the Japanese found more copper, which could increase the number of communities affected by two- at the very least.
Relocation of communities is more than enough to stop most extractive projects.
2. It would impact primary cloud forests.  What’s so special about cloud forests?  Less than 2.5% of the world’s tropical forests are cloud forests. They are not only exceptionally biologically diverse- as well as severely threatened-  but they play an outsized role in protecting important headwater watersheds.
3. The project would cause massive deforestation (their words, not mine). The small mine would directly impact 4,025 hectares.
4. The deforestation, according to the Japanese, would lead to drying of local climate, affecting thousands of small farmers (the EIA used the word desertification)
5. Intag’s forests belong to the world’s top Biodiversity Hotspot; the Tropical Andes. The scientist working on the study identified 12 species of mammals and birds facing extinction that would be impacted by the project, including jaguars, spectacled bears, mountain tapirs and the brown-faced spider monkey. (Based on incomplete studies, Decoin identified more than 30 species of threatened or endangered plants and animals, and there could be dozens more).
6. There are pristine rivers and streams everywhere within the concession.  The EIA predicted they would be contaminated with lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium and other toxic substances.
7. The project would, unquestionably, destroy pre-Incan Yumbo archeological sites.
8. It would impact the Cotacachi-Capayas Ecological Reserve (one of the world’s most biologically diverse protected areas and the only large one in all of western Ecuador).
Besides these very worrisome impacts identified in the Study (for a mine a fraction of what it could end up being)…  there are other significant hurdles.
B. Legal hassles
9. Large-scale mining would violate the legally-binding Cotacachi County Ecological Ordinance created in 2000.  Only the Constitutional Tribunal can rule on the validity of the Ordinance in light of the new Constitution. And the Tribunal has not.
10.  Ecuador’s new Constitution demands that communities be consulted before any project impacting their social or natural environment takes place; a Constitutional guarantee that has been disregarded from day one. The Constitution also grants nature rights, and the people right to Sumak Kawsay, or Harmonious Life.  Good luck trying to convince a decent government and world opinion that open pit mining will not violate these two fundamental rights.
11. In 2008 the Cotacachi County government created an 18,000 hectare municipal protected area right on top of the mining site. Mining is one of the activities prohibited within the protected area.
C. Opposition. There is widespread opposition to the Intag mining project. This includes:
12. The Parish township governments the concession is located at, plus County-wide indigenous and campesino organizations. The new threat has actually mobilized more organization  at the local, county and national level, than ever before.
13. Community Opposition. Most communities surrounding the mining project are still, after all these years, opposed to the project. Eighteen years of resistance has honed their skill in resisting (the right to resist is now a right protected by the Constitution)
14. 90% of NGO’s in Cotacachi County and Intag oppose the project. Late last year, the most important  civil society organizations in Intag wrote a letter to Chile’s president to make sure he understood that the organizations would again rise to defend the area if Codelco went ahead and tried to revive the project.
D. Exaggerated Copper Claims
15. In 2007, Micon International, the entity contracted by Ascendant Copper to evaluate the Junin copper deposit, said that it could not confirm their earlier estimates due to degradation of samples. Copper Mesa had been saying all along that the Junin copper deposit had four times more copper than what the Japanese inferred after years of exploration.   In all, 2.26 million tons were inferred by the Japanese, which is a little less than 1/10th of what the world consumes annually (and it would take decades to mine it all out).
E. Further environmental challenges
16. The area receives between 3000 and 4000 millimeters of annual rainfall. Heavy rainfall, abundant underground aquifers, and heavy metals in the ore make for a deadly mix.  Not only that, but they raise the price of mining considerably, while greatly increasing the risks of man-made disasters, such as landslides.     For an idea of what a landslide can do in an open pit mine, go here:
17. The ore contains toxic heavy metals and sulfur (which will cause Acid Mine Drainage).
18. There is a superabundance of underground water (according to Japanese EIA). This is bad news for mining companies and even worse news for the environment.
19. The area where they found the copper is exceptionally steep and mountainous, making mining very difficult and expensive
20.  There are clear indications that Junín’s copper is very deep, making mining much more environmentally destructive and economically risky.
21. The Toisan Range has many geological faults, posing significant earthquake risks.
Truth be told, there are more than 21 reasons, but 21 sounds better than 43 or 31.
Further Reading

Diecinueve Veintiuna razones por qué NortecAscendant Copper, Codelco no debe meterse con Intag

Carlos Zorrilla

(English Below)

Después que las comunidades expulsaran a Bishimetals, filial de Mitsubishi, en 1997, el ambiente no ha mejorado para las empresas en Intag. Hace unos años, cuando Nortec estaba mostrando interés en adquirir el desastre conocido como Ascendant Copper Corporation, escribí las diecinueve razones para advertirle a  Nortec sobre algunos riesgos, y principales problemas que heredarían en caso que la compra se concretara (por suerte, fracasó). Poco después, las comunidades expulsaron a Ascendant Copper. Mientras tanto, la lista de razones ha venido creciendo y, a pesar de que realmente es más como 42 razones, veintiún suena mejor, y además, debería ser más que suficiente. Es un poco ingenuo cuando las empresas manifiestan que “no sabíamos;” o  “si solo hubiéramos sabido “, o incluso más bobo aún: “si el gobierno nos hubiera advertido que…”   Bueno, por si acaso, aquí están, en blanco y negro, algunos de esos obstáculos y dificultades que, en su conjunto, hace inviable a este proyecto minero.
Estudios y más estudios.
Para justificar su existencia en proyectos mineros conflictivos, las empresas manufacturan información para demostrar que la gente está de acuerdo con su presencia.  Si lo pueden financiar, contratan a prestigiosas ONG para llevar a cabo entrevistas y estudios para supuestamente determinar la percepción popular sobre la minería, identificar los principales actores, necesidades, problemas, etc..  Posteriormente basan sus decisiones en los resultados de los estudios! Como si la complejidad y las actitudes de un área podrían ser estudiados en unos pocos días o un par de semanas. Sin embargo, esto es fue lo que la empresa y / o el gobierno aparentemente hicieron el año pasado cuando entrevistaron algunas personas sobre la minería. Luego, cuando intentaron reunirse con comunidades claves, se sorprendieron que su presencia fuera consideraba no grata!
Un nuevo siglo.
Si alguien de Codelco lee esto (como estoy seguro de que lo harán), probablemente sabe, o debe saber, algo que todas las empresas mineras responsables pueden dar fe (así como los principales actores, como el Banco Mundial):  el apoyo del Ejecutivo de un gobierno no es suficiente para garantizar el éxito de un proyecto. Se necesita el verdadero apoyo de la comunidad (no fabricado o imaginado), al igual que de los gobiernos locales. De hecho, el apoyo del gobierno central no garantiza nada en absoluto. Por  tanto, NO     confíen demasiado en el entusiasta apoyo del Gobierno actual.
¿Por qué escribir esto?
Porque siento la responsabilidad de informar al pueblo chileno, que no tiene la más mínima idea de el lio en el cual su empresa se está metiendo acá en Intag, y que es una situación sin salida para Codelco. Adicionalmente, que en el proceso de intentar de desarrollar una mina en este campo minado, se creará un caos social total, y será responsable de violar derechos humanos. Y, si a pesar de toda la indiscutible evidencia que a largo plazo es un proyecto sin futuro, de alguna manera Codelco logra abrir la mina, será recordada como una de las mayores pesadillas ambientales de todos los tiempos, al igual de la famosa mina de oro y cobre Ok Tedi en Papúa Nueva Guinea.
Estoy seguro de que si la mayoría de los chilenos se enteraran de todos los riesgos y obstáculos que enfrenta la expansión de la compañía en el Ecuador, con firmeza lo rechazarían. Esto, entonces, es un intento más de tratar de informar a la población chilena sobre la realidad detrás de las mentiras y engaños que se han generado y se generarán en torno al el proyecto minero Junín.
He aquí pues, veintiuna razones por qué Codelco no se debe meter con Intag:
A. Los impactos identificados en esta sección son los impactos ambientales y sociales pronosticados en el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental para una pequeña mina de cobre en el proyecto Junin, (450.000 toneladas de cobre); elaborado por profesionales japoneses.
Hay que tomar en cuenta que un par de años después de su publicación, se descubrió 5 veces más cobre.
1. Reubicación.   Intag no es como el desierto de Atacama, donde Codelco tiene sus minas de cobre. Aparte de ser rica en bosques super húmedos y biodiversos, la zona tiene comunidades por todo lado.
Según el Estudio mencionado, el proyecto minero reubicaría a cientos de familias de cuatro comunidades. Posteriormente, los japoneses encontraron más cobre, lo que aumentaría el número de comunidades afectadas.  La reubicación de comunidades en sí, es suficiente para terminar con casi todo proyecto extractivo.
2. Impactaría bosques nublados primarios.  Solo 2.5% de los bosques tropicales son bosques nublados, y aparte de su importancia en la conservación de la biodiversidad, juegan un papel indispensable en la protección del agua.
3. El proyecto causaría una “deforestación masiva” (sus palabras, no las mías). La pequeña mina afectaría directamente 4.025 hectáreas.
4. Esa deforestación masiva, de acuerdo a los japoneses, sequaría el clima local, lo cual afectaría a miles de pequeños agricultores (el EIA utilizó la palabra desertificación)
5. Los bosques nublados de Intag pertenecen al más importante Hotspot de biodiversidad del mundo, los Andes Tropicales. Los científicos que realizaron el estudio identificaron 12 especies de mamíferos y aves en peligro de extinción que se verían afectados por el proyecto, incluyendo jaguares, osos de anteojos, tapires de montaña y el mono cabeci-café. (Basado en estudios incompletos, Decoin identificó más de 30 especies de plantas y animales amenazadas o en peligro de extinción, y podría haber decenas más).
6. En el área minera hay ríos prístinos y arroyos por todas partes. El EIA predijo que estos serían contaminados con plomo, arsénico, cromo, cadmio y otras sustancias tóxicas.
7. El proyecto, sin lugar a dudas, destruirá sitios arqueológicos preincaicos de la cultura Yumbo.
8. Afectaría la Reserva Ecológica Cotacachi-Cayapas (una de las áreas protegidas de mayor diversidad biológica del mundo).
Además de estos efectos muy inquietantes identificadas en el Estudio (para una mina de una fracción de lo que podría llegar a ser) … hay otros problemas y obstáculos importantes.
B. Inconvenientes legales
9. La minería a gran escala, violaría el carácter vinculante de Cotacachi  como Cantón Ecológico creado en 2000. Sólo el Tribunal Constitucional puede pronunciarse sobre la validez de la ordenanza a la luz de la nueva Constitución. Y el Tribunal no lo ha hecho.
10. La Nueva Constitución le otorga derechos a la naturaleza y a las personas el derecho a Sumak Kawsay o vida armoniosa. Suerte cuendo intenten convencer a un gobierno decente o a la opinión pública mundial de que la minería a cielo abierto no violará estos dos derechos fundamentales.
11. En 2008, el gobierno del Cantón Cotacachi creó un área protegida municipal 18.000 hectáreas que incluye el área minera. La minería es una de las actividades prohibidas en el área protegida.
C. Oposición. Hay una amplia oposición al proyecto minero de Intag; incluyendo:
12. Los gobiernos Parroquia donde se encuentra la concesión, además de parte de organizaciones indígenas y campesinas en todo el Cantón. La nueva amenaza ha movilizado otras organizaciones a nivel local, cantonal y a nivel nacional que antes no estaban involucradas.
13. Oposición de la comunidad. La mayoría de las comunidades aledañas al proyecto minero siguen, después de todos estos años, oponiéndose al proyecto. Dieciocho años de resistencia ha perfeccionado sus habilidades a, legalmente, seguir resistiendo (el derecho a la resistencia es ahora un derecho protegido por la Constitución)
14. 90% de las ONG en el Cantón Cotacachi e Intag se oponen al proyecto. A finales del año pasado, las organizaciones de la sociedad civil más importantes de Intag le escribieron una carta al presidente de Chile para asegurarse de que entienda que las organizaciones defendarán la zona si Codelco sigue adelante y trata de revivir el proyecto.
D. Yacimiento exagerado
15. En 2007, Micon International, entidad contratada por Ascendant Copper para evaluar el depósito de cobre de Junín, dijo que no podía confirmar sus estimaciones anteriores debido a la degradación de las muestras. Copper Mesa había estado diciendo que el yacimiento de cobre de Junín tenía cuatro veces más cobre que lo que los japoneses deducieron después de años de exploración. En total, 2,26 millones de toneladas fueron inferido por los japoneses, lo cual representa un poco menos de una décima partede lo que el mundo consume anualmente (y lo cual tomaría décadas para explotar).
E. Otros desafíos ambientales
16. El área recibe entre 3.000 y 4.000 milímetros de precipitación al año. Las fuertes lluvias y abundantes agua freática, y el contenido de metales pesados en el yacimiento son una mezcla mortal. Esta situación incrementa considerablemente el precio de cualquier proyecto minero, al tiempo que aumenta en gran medida los riesgos de desastres antropogénicos, tales como deslizamientos de tierra.
Para tener una idea del desastre producido por un deslizamiento en una mina a cielo abierto, le recomiendo que visite este sitio:
17. El yacimiento contiene metales pesados y azufre (lo que causaría Drenaje Ácido de Mina).  La contaminación producto del DAM es eterna.
18. Según el EIA japonés, hay una sobreabundancia de agua subterránea en el área minera. Esto es debería ser muy preocupante para un proyecto minero, ya que encarece mucho la minería y causa enormes problemas ambientales.
19. El área es topográficamente muy accidentada, lo cual también contribuye para encarecer toda minería a gran escala.
20. Hay claros indicios de que el cobre de Junín se encuentra muy profundo. Esto hace la minería mucho ambientalmente más destructiva, y la extracción del cobre económicamente mucho más caro.
21. La Cordillera de Toisan, donde se encuentra el yacimiento de cobre, contiene numerosas fallas geológicas, lo cual representa significativos riesgos de terremotos (y mega desastres)
En verdad, existen más de 21 razones, pero 21 suena mejor que 43 o 31.
Sitios de interés

Mining Paradise: Codelco tries to set the stage (and fails)

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By , May 11, 2013

Intag news, 11 May 2013

 Mining Paradise:  Codelco Trying to Set the Stage

Ecuador’s Doublespeak

And More


   Contaminated water welling up from one of several exploration wells drilled in the 90’s in Junin   

and still  contaminating the Junin river 

 Codelco has been busy of late.  Last Monday they, along with Enami functionaries were allowed to give a hour-long presentation to the illustrious leaders of the Cotacachi government about the Junin project.  Not one or two employees, but 10 of them converged on the local government and espoused their brand of doublespeak about the mining project.  This and other measures taken lately by Codelco points to them wanting to start their environmental impact study soon.  They may attempt it, but there is no coordination with the communities and local governments.

 The Municipal presentation was a flashback to the good ol’ Ascendant Copper Days.  I’m referring the omission of information and outright distortion, but yet mixed with a couple of hard facts.  Like for example, denying that Codelco only has experience with large scale mining in the driest desert in the world.  They went out of their way to disprove this by saying that they have experience with the Andina mine,  a mining project in another area of Chile that is not the Atacama Desert, while skipping over the fact that except for this mine, all their other mines are in the Atacama, the planet’s driest desert.  Trying to compare the ecosystem where their Andina mine to the Toisan Range is ludicrous, unless you didn’t know that it rains less than 10% of what it rains in the Toisan, that there are no communities directly affected by the mine (as in having to relocate), and that of course, it is a high-alpine impoverished ecosystem without any forests, and whose biodiversity can’t hold a candle to the biodiversity of a neotropical cloud forest. The government officials listening also didn’t know that there is a growing opposition to the expansion of the Andina mine due to water issues, and that the mine’s expansion will impact several glaciers (see links below).  What were these guys thinking, that no one would check their assertions???

 But the above distortion and slip ups were only the beginning.  When asked how many wells would be drilled and their depth during the exploration phase, they avoided answering by lying.  They claimed that they didn’t know and that perhaps Enami knew, and that  anyway that data will be established in the Environmental Impact Study, when in fact, it needs to be precisely established before the Study is undertaken in order to understand the potential impacts, and try to avoid or mitigate them.  Codelco, it should be pointed out, is the “expert” mining company; Enami hardly knows where the hell they are standing.

 Incredibly, they started the meeting by treating the Municipally officials like a bunch of sheep when they avoided mentioning that the authorization they needed (and received back in Feb.) from the Municipality was based on two criteria. They only mentioned the one criteria which calls for the local government to disclose whether the mining concessions affects populated centers.  They conveniently omitted to mention that the other, more important criteria, bases approval on how mining affects the development plans of the County.  Mining is prohibited in the local government’s development plans and by a local Ordinance that prohibits affectation of native vegetation by industries, these being the main reasons why it was so outrageous that the local government  didn’t oppose Enami’s miming plans, and the legal reason it was opposed by the four of the nine Council persons.

 The mining officials also implied that the phase they want to undertake is prospection, not exploration.  There is a world of difference between the two and the impacts they create. Prospection is basically taking rock samples from the surface, and water and sediments from rivers and streams.  There is no drilling or digging; no use of chemicals, and no machinery involved.  Exploration includes slashing new trails or roads into pristine forested areas to transport the drilling equipment in order to drill 4-6 inch diameter wells hundreds of meters deep all the while diverting water from the streams to mix with chemicals to keep the drill bit from overheating and mucking up.  The damage can be severe, as in the case of the Junín river which is still being contaminated by arsenic welling up from deep underground aquifers courtesy of wells drilled by the Japanese in the 1990’s (see image above).    Of course, they also threw in their bit (as all mining companies do) of using the latest technology, and that this is the mining of the new century, and so forth and on.  One of the more laughable parts of the presentation came when they tried to sell the idea, over and over again, of Responsible Mining and that they were different, and would be absolutely transparent, etc.  Well, so be it; the government of Cotacachi got an eye and earful of the Transparency that the new Responsible Mining is pushing.   Oh, I forgot to mention that we heard about the presentation only a couple of hours before it was scheduled, thus no representative from Intag was able to rush out there to question the content of the presentation.  DECOIN did send a quickly prepared PowerPoint presentation highlighting the risks of exploration, and showing the contamination at Junín, but it was not allowed to be presented.

 So much for transparency.

 Next steps?  Codelco trying to replicate their B.S. in the communities and local government before starting the EIA (Environmental Impact Study).  Community reaction?  If history is any guide, more of the same.

 EIA Approval a “done deal”.

If history is any kind of guide, there is no question the EIA will be approved.   I recall the ridiculousness of the EIA for El Palmar (Mandariyacos area) exploratory project in which Codelco was directly involved.  This concession lies fairly close to Junín, and its EIA was approved in record time spite of outrageous mistakes and made up information, and in spite of solid opposition painstakingly argued and turned  in on time by  DECOIN and Quito-based human rights organization, CEDHU. We expect the same for this new EIA, quite possibly also done in record time, and the approval also in record time.

 I have to admit that it’s absurd to the point of hilarity when, after so many Shenanigans*, the government gets bent out of shape when the locals get pissed off and show their anger at this brand of unbelievable injustice.  The more so when mining in these areas so clearly violates fundamental human, collective and Nature’s rights enshrined in the Constitution.  Who, then, one might wonder, are the real victims of terrorism?                           (*Secret or dishonest activity or maneuvering)

 Ecuador’s Doublespeak

Now, we all know governments indulge in doublespeak, lies, distortion, shameless propaganda and outright undiluted bullshit.  Tis their nature. But this government could be raising the bar.  I was reading today how the Correa government is dead set on changing the country’s productive matrix and how they want to transform their commodity-exporting economy to one focused on providing services.  President Correa and his newly elected vice president, George Glas, have repeatedly spread this interesting bit of, well you fill in the blank: ……..


This comes out of one side of the mouth, while from the other comes out marching orders for the large-scale (Chinese owned), copper mine in the biodiverse Condor Range to go ahead, and starting orders for the Junín mine as well as gold mining in the nearby and equally diverse Noroccidente (across the river from Junín in Pichincha Province).  All three sites are exceptionally biologically diverse; all three rich in water resources, all three have several local communities around the mining sites, and all three have dozens of protected species facing extinction and huge ecological tourism potential.  And, yes, there is firm opposition in all three; the more so in Intag and the Noroccidente. This is just one very specific example of the New Order of Doublspeak,, for more you can check out my article, Green Washing Run Amok in the Andes at:

 More next week-



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By , April 7, 2013


 Parte de los 190 asistentes de 16 comunidades que asistieron a la Asamblea de Comunidades realizada en Junin este sábado 6, y convocada por las comunidades de Junin y Chalguayacu Bajo, en la cual expresaron su rechazo a la presencia de la minería en territorio inteño en las siguiente declaración:

Intag, 06 de abril de 2013; las comunidades de la zona de intag

  • Nuestra historia de lucha sostenida frente a la pretensión de explotación minera en nuestro territorio
  • Nos reconocemos como parte de un estado plurinacional donde se debe respetar las distintas formas de vida
  • Nuestras formas de vida representan el buen Vivir enmarcado en la Constitución
  • Que la discusión no es si la empresa minera es estatal o empresa transnacional, la discusión es el despojo de nuestro pasado, nuestro  futuro y nuestro presente
  • Que no estamos solos, las expresiones de solidaridad y apoyo para detener de manera conjunta a la amenaza minera nos anima y fortalece.
  • Reafirmamos la defensa de nuestros derechos y los derechos de la Naturaleza
  • La  decisión de no renunciar a nuestras tierras y a nuestras fuentes de Vida
  • Nuestra voluntad de declararnos como Custodios de nuestro patrimonio natural, cultural y hacer prevalecer la  razón en función del bien comunitario

Nos comprometemos a

  • Continuar fortaleciendo nuestra lucha, a articularnos y vincularnos con las luchas      y resistencia nacionales e internacionales
  • A Blindarnos con una organización eficiente
  • Tomar control sobre nuestra zona con acciones de vigilancia comunitaria
  • Estar abiertos al dialogo
  • Desarrollar una efectiva comunicación
  • Informarnos para trasmitir las consecuencias de la explotación minera para      convencer al país y al mundo de las desventajas de la explotación minera.
  • Comunicar de nuestras experiencias de lucha y las  alternativas generadas con esa lucha
  • Declararnos como una zona en pie de lucha

Que la minería responsable no existe, hemos constatado la práctica de despojo contaminación y violacion de las empresas mineras en los países mineros existentes, y en nuestro propio país como el caso de la empresa Selva Alegre (Lafarge)

 Demandamos  Una forma propia de
  • Que los jovenes conscientes  hagan un recorrido para convocar a otros jóvenes a trabajar con ellos
  • Llamar al dialogo a los Presidentes de las juntas parroquiales
  • Realizar recorridos de puerta a puerta
  • Poner controles de ingreso a las comunidades por la seguridad de las mismas
  • Trabajar con jóvenes mujeres y hombres en una reflexión integral y construcción un posicionamiento firme desde el arte y la cultura.
  • Que se haga una caravana cultural aprovechando el dia de la tierra o el dia de la digidad intena
  • Celebrar el 15 de mayo EL DIA DE LA DIGNIDAD INTEÑA
  • Consulta
  • Realizar caravanas artísticas de pueblo en pueblo con difusión de información (sábado 26 de abril)
  • Realizar un foro en Ibarra y exposición de fotografía sobre la actividad de Codelco
  • Recolectar firmas para las acciones legales y grabaciones en contra de la actividad minera.

Resolutions taken by the 190 participants from 16 Intag communities that met this past April 6, 2013 in Junin

Intag, April 6, 2013, the communities of the Intag


We recognize

Our history of sustained struggle against the intention of carrying out mining in our territory

We recognize ourselves as part of a plurinational state that respects different ways of Life

Our ways of life is an example of the “Harmonious Life” recognized in the Constitution

That the issue is not whether the mining company belongs to the state or is a transnational corporation; the issue is the theft of our past, our future and our present

We are not alone, the expressions of solidarity and support to jointly put an end to the mining threat encourage and strengthen us.

We reaffirm the defense of our rights and the rights of Nature

The decision has been taken not to give up our lands or our livelihood

Our willingness to declare ourselves as custodians of our natural and cultural heritage, and make reason prevail based on the community’s common well-being.

We are committed to

Continue to strengthen our struggle, to join together and become involved with national and international struggles of resistance

To protect ourselves well with an efficient organization

To take control of our area via community vigilance

Be open to dialogue

To develop efficiente means of communication

To inform ourselves in order to better point out the consequences of mining  to convince the country and the world of the disadvantages of mining.

To inform of our experiences of the struggle and alternatives generated as a consequence of the struggle

To declare ourselves in permanent state of alertness and resistance


We Denounce

That responsible mining does not exist, we have experienced first-hand the pillaging, contamination and violation by mining companies  such as companies like Selva Alegre (Lafarge) here in Intag

We demand

That aware young people travel to motivate their peers to work with them

Call all Parish Government Presidents to a dialogue

That door to door visitations take place

Establish controls at the entrance to the communities for their own safety

Work with young men and women in motivating integral reflection, and build a firm perspective using art and culture.

Carry out a cultural caravan on the Day of Intag Dignity or Earth Day,

Celebrate May 15th as the DAY OF INTAG DIGNITY


Undertake an artistic caravan visiting communities to disseminate information (Saturday April 26)

Organize a forum, and photography exhibit in Ibarra on Codelco’s activities

Collect signatures to undertake legal measures,and make recordings against mining.



MINING PARADISE: Intag mobilizes / Intag se moviliza

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By , April 4, 2013

 April 2013


In light of the announced reactivation of mining activities.

This Saturday April 6, the community of Junín will host a meeting of Intag’s communities. The Assembly seeks to inform villagers about recent decisions taken on the mining project known as Llurimagua, currently being promoted by the government of President Rafael Correa. Several delegations from Cotacachi, Quito and the northwest of Pichincha Province have confirmed their participation.

 In July 2012, the government signed an agreement with Codelco, Chile’s state mining company to start advanced exploration work together with the ENAMI, the National Mining Company in the Llurimagua concession. The exploration is supposed to commence during the second semester of 2013.  The communities consider the agreement illegitimate because they were never consulted, thus violating Ecuador’s Constitution. With a global production of 11% of the world’s copper, Codelco is the largest producer of the red metal in the world.

The communities of the area have been resisting Intag copper mining since the 1990s, when Bishimetals, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi found a significant copper deposit. During that time, civil society organizations and communities have expelled two transnational, and have built a sustainable economy based on solidarity and respect for human rights, and nature. Different kinds of nature-based tourism, shade coffee production, and many other economic alternatives have emerged in response to the devastation that represents large, open-pit mining in areas such as Intag.



Ante la anunciada reactivación de la minería en la zona

 Este sábado 6 de abril, se llevará a cabo una asamblea zonal de comunidades en la comunidad de Junin, Parroquia García Moreno.   La Asamblea busca informar a los y las comuneros de la zona de influencia sobre recientes decisiones tomadas en torno al proyecto minero conocido como Llurimagua, el cual está siendo promovido por el gobierno del presidente Rafael Correa.  Varias delegaciones de Quito, Cotacachi, y del noroccidente de Pichincha, han confirmado su participación.

En julio del 2012, el gobierno firmó un convenio con CODELCO, empresa minera estatal chilena para iniciar labores de exploración avanzada juntamente con la ENAMI- Empresa Nacional Minera en la concesión Llurimagua.  Las actividades de exploración deberían iniciar durante el segundo semestre del 2013.   Las comunidades consideran el convenio ilegítimo ya que nunca se consultó con las comunidades, como exige la Constitución del Ecuador.  Con una producción del 11% del cobre mundial, Codelco es la productora de cobre más grande del mundo.

Las comunidades de la zona de Intag han venido resistiendo la minería de cobre desde los años 1990, cuando la subsidiaria de Mitsubishi encontró un importante yacimiento de cobre. En ese lapso, la sociedad civil organizada y comunidades han expulsado de Intag a dos transnacionales, y han construido una economía sustentable basada en la solidaridad y el respeto de los derechos humanos y  de la naturaleza.  El turismo de aventura, ecológico, de convivencia, la producción de café bajo sombra, y muchas otras alternativas económicas han surgido como respuesta a la devastación que representa la minería a gran escala y a cielo abierto.

DECOIN        Defensa y Conservación de Intag


UPDATE Like veritable thieves in the night / ACTUALIZACIÓN Como verdaderos ladrones en la noche

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By , March 2, 2013


Update, Sunday NOON:  people from the communities have been unable to find any trace of the persons who snuck into the Junin area on Friday night.  HOWEVER, we do have confirmed reports that ENAMI will soon start work on  the Environmental Impact Study, out of their field office in Villadorita, about 20 kilometers from JUNIN.  In meantime, people are starting to react.  

 More news soon

On Saturday, we received non-confirmed reports that ENAMI snuck into the area of the area of the Junin community reserve last night,  like veritable  thieves in the night.

They couldn’t do it in plain light,transparently, much less with the community authorization, or with the Ok of local governments, so they forced their way in.

CODELCO, are you listening?  Is this is the way you want to start a project?? Is this what you mean when you say that you always work in full collaboration of the communities?

You sow winds, you will harvest storms


ACTUALIZACIÓN, domingo al mediodía:      la gente de las comunidades no han podido encontrar ningún rastro de las personas que se colaron en el área de Junín en la noche del viernes. Sin embargo,  se ha confirmado de que en estos días ENAMI  comenzará a trabajar en el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental desde su oficina de campo en Villadorita, a unos 20 kilómetros de Junín. En tanto, la gente está empezando a reaccionar. Más noticias en estos días

El sábado recibimos  informes no confirmados de que ENAMI se había colado en el área de la Reserva Comunitaria de Junín comunidad anoche, entre gallos y media noche.

No pudieron hacerlo en plena luz, de forma transparente, y mucho menos con la autorización de la comunidad, o con el visto bueno de los gobiernos locales, por lo que ingresaron a la fuerza.

CODELCO, ¿estás escuchando? ¿Esta es la forma que desean iniciar un proyecto?  ¿Es esto a lo que se refieren cuando alegan que  siempre trabajan en plena colaboración de las comunidades?

Si siembras vientos, cosecharás tempestades



Codelco, Enami exploration project in Ecuador faces bumpy future, possible failure – Ecuador

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By , February 21, 2013

Foto of primary forested area where Junin copper lies (as soon as i can get it to upload!)

Junin’s primary Cloud Forest where the copper lies


(español a continuación)


Business News Americas

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 17:15 (GMT -0400)

Despite receiving municipal approval to begin exploration, Chilean state copper producer Codelco and Ecuador’s state miner Enami EP should brace themselves for failure in developing the Junín deposit in the Toisan mountain range in Cotacachi municipality’s Intag area in Ecuador, according to a spokesperson from local grassroots environmental organization Decoin.

 The companies got the green light to go ahead with exploration on February 13, but that decision is being questioned by community members on several points. According to the spokesperson, the 5-4 approval violates legally binding land use and development plans for the area as well as a local ordinance designating the region as a protected area.

 Furthermore, no prior consultation process was carried out, violating communities’ constitutional right to be consulted on any decision that could impact their environment. “That has been violated from day one,” the spokesperson said.

 When contacted regarding the latest development, a Codelco spokesperson told BNamericas that the company could not comment on the matter. Referring in general to Codelco’s work in the country, the spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company “carries out exploration in Ecuador in accordance with its status as a world leader in mining that respects the communities where it operates, fully complies with local regulations and applies the same standards and values that it keeps in Chile.”

 Enami did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.


 The Junín deposit was first discovered in the ’90s by Japan’s Mitsubishi, which met enough community resistance to lead it to abandon the area following the completion of an environmental impact study for a mining project that identified deforestation and the drying up of the ecosystem as likely impacts, the Decoin spokesperson said, noting that the area’s cloud forest ecosystem is one of the most biodiverse on the planet.

 To continue reading, click here for the full text from BNamericas.


Proyecto de exploración Codelco – Enami  en Ecuador enfrenta futuro lleno de dificultades, posible fracaso

A pesar de recibir la aprobación municipal para iniciar la exploración, la cuprífera estatal chilena, Codelco y la minera estatal ecuatoriana Enami EP deben prepararse para el fracaso del desarrollo del yacimiento de Junín en la Cordillera Toisan, zona de Intag, ubicado en el Municipio de Cotacachi, Ecuador, según un portavoz de la organización ambientalista de base Decoin.

Las empresas recibieron la luz verde para seguir adelante con la exploración el 13 de febrero, pero la en varios puntos de la decisión están siendo cuestionada por miembros de la comunidad. Según el portavoz, la aprobación 5-4 viola uso de la tierra y planes de desarrollo para la zona, que son legalmente vinculante, así como una ordenanza local que designa a la región como un área protegida.

Por otra parte, ningún proceso de consulta previa se llevó a cabo, violando el derecho constitucional de las comunidades a ser consultados sobre cualquier decisión que pueda afectar su medio ambiente. “Eso ha sido violada desde el primer día”, dijo el portavoz.

Cuando fue un portavoz de Codelco fue contactado en relación a los últimos acontecimientos,  el portavoz manifestó a BNamericas que la empresa no podía hacer comentarios sobre el asunto. Refiriéndose en general a la labor de Codelco en el país, indicó el vocero en un comunicado por correo electrónico que la empresa “lleva a cabo la exploración en Ecuador, de acuerdo con su condición de líder mundial en minería respetando a las comunidades en las que opera, cumple con las normativas locales y aplica las mismas normas y valores que mantiene en Chile “.

Enami no respondió de inmediato a las solicitudes de comentario.

El resto del artículo (en inglés) aquí: for the full text from BNamericas

Traducido del ingles

Cotacachi approval of Codelco – Enami mining project sets the stage for widespread conflicts

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By , February 15, 2013

Cotacachi approval of Codelco –  Enami mining project sets the stage for widespread conflicts

 The main issue on the agenda of the official Municipal session this past Wednesday the 13th, was a vote on awhether to approve or deny a permit needed by the government mining company to continue with its plans to start exploratory activities in Intag’s Toisan range.

 It was a total disgrace.   Seeing the four councilpersons and the indigenous mayor of Cotacachi, Alberto Andrango, trying to justify the reasons why they were, essentially, giving the green light for Codelco and the Ecuadorian mining company, ENAMI, to begin mining activities in Intag.  For those present, the decision reeked of political complicity, given that the five who approved the resolution were members of President Correa’s party, or close allies.

 The consequences, given Intag’s long history of violent conflicts and human rights violations spawned by mining, and the area’s successful resistance, are not very difficult to imagine.

 The appalling action will, I’m sure, come to haunt the Cotacachi Municipal government and undoubtedly, impact the feasibility of the proposed mining activities.  The reasons are simple.  The decision  completely overlooked civil society concerns and clear legal and Constitutional issues that were so eloquently expressed in the session by the three opposing councilmembers and one civil society representative with voting privileges. These issues were supported by the 15 leaders of Intag’s communities, organizations and Township governments who were present at the meeting (see photo below). The legal issues include, but are not limited to, the Constitutional right to prior consultation, which was flagrantly violated, as well as the right of Ecuador’s citizen to live in a culture of peace.  The Constitutional right to Sumak Kawsay, or a good or harmonious life, also stands as a main obstacle for the project to overcome.

 Economic and land development plans, both at the Township and Municipal government levels, were also outrageously violated.  Nowhere do the plans contemplate mining as a driver of the economy.  In fact, the Plans openly support tourism, sustainable agricultural and ranching as well as small scale business enterprises.  The civil society members also pointed out that the mining concessions are within the Municipality’s own protected area. Mining would violate the protected area’s mandate.  Additionally, mining activities would be in clear violation of the Ecological Ordinance, approved by the Cotacachi Municipal government in the year 2000. Until the Constitutional Tribunal rules otherwise, the Ordinance is a valid local law.

 By so outrageously disregarding valid civil society concerns and Constitutional and other legal issues, the decision will not only fuel the ever present indignation, but will reawaken and strengthen the opposition. The 5 to 4 decision will give communities even more reasons to oppose a project that they’ve always seen as illegal, and which betrays fundamental political, environmental and human rights directives as set forth in local and national legislation, and the country’s own Constitution.

 Given the above scenario, there is no way that civil strife will be avoided.   In other words, CODELCO’s first mining project in Ecuador is off to a very rough start… say the least.

Session Gob Cotacachi 13-2-13

                                                           Polibio Pérez expressing Intag’s communitie’s concerns at the Feb 13 session



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By , January 2, 2013


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Forest Protection
Environmental Education
Casa de Intag
Irubí Project
The Resistance Continues!
Looking Ahead

Tis that time of year: What DECOIN has managed to get done this past year, and a quick round up of main achievements to date.

Before continuing, we would like to thank Rainforest Concern, The Threshold Foundation, Rettet den Regenwald, Geo schutzt den Regenwald and Lichtblick, The Sloth Club, as well as the individuals like David Walstrom and the students at Connecticut College, who actively support our work.



Wathershed and Conservation.
The Cuellaje Integral Conservation Project, with help from “GEO schützt den Regenwald e.V.” (Germany), is a holistic conservation project in the Cristopamba watershed that encompasses support of productive activities, conservation and environmental education aimed at protecting the Cristopamba river, one of Intag’s most beautiful and clean rivers.  In the Cuellaje area, to date (June 2013), the project has acquired 2639 hectares of mostly primary cloud forests bordering the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and handed them over to the Cuellaje government and its communities for administration. In other sub-watersheds in Intag, several other reserves covering a total of 2213 hectares  are in the hands of the governments of Apuela,  Peñaherrera and García Moreno.  This project started in 2005 and is ongoing.

“This year, with the support of  “GEO schützt den Regenwald e.V.” we were able to add 887 hectares of a very important patch of cloud forest to the new Peñaherrera local government reserve. This gives us a total of 1,534 additioal hectares that as of 2013 are being protected.  With Rainforest Concern, we purchased a total of 647 hectares to add to the Neblina Reserve. Armando Almeida’s and Silvia Quilumbango’s work in purchasing and legalizing the land was nothing short of extraordinary; the bureaucracy has gotten nightmarish for land acquisition: One land deal took about 4 months to complete and more than 10 trips to Cotacachi to deal with the municipality and the land registrar.


If you are looking to support or reproduce elsewhere the most effective conservation initiative, look no further. 37 communities have hydrological reserves protecting just over 1000 hectares of forests and wildlife. The community reserves also are providing thousands of Intag residents with safe water. I suspect the number of people now drinking safe water in Intag is now over 5,000. Earlier in the year Karen Knee, did her PhD. thesis on the quality of Intag’s drinking water. DECOIN published the report and is in the process of getting it to health, community and local government officials. One of the main findings: the water coming from the community reserves are equal in quality as that coming from fully forested protected areas. I honestly do not know a more effective conservation initiative than this one. Reason? Communities have a direct and vested interest in protecting their sources of drinking water. It opens a door to transmit important messages on the ethics of conservation. People experience firsthand the importance and practicality of conserving forests and biodiversity. Where laws often fail (nearly always) to protect protected areas in countries like Ecuador, communities will not let “their” community reserves be degraded….


37 community Reserves 1,100 hectares (see list of communities below)
JUNIN Community Reserve,, 1,500 hectares
Cuellaje Parish Government Reserve 2,731 hectares
Apuela Parish Government Reserve 1,074 hectares
Peñaherrera Parish Government Reserve 903 hectares
Garcia Moreno Parish Government Reserve 66 hectares
Neblina Reserve 1,676 hectares
Flor de Mayo 120 ha
Pajas de oro 150 ha

Total: 9,412 hectares, or 23,906 acres

If you take into consideration another 1,500 hectares that are now part of the Chontal protected forest, but which was once part of the Junin Community Reserve, made possible by the support of Rettet den Regenwald, the real total that we have helped conserve is 10, 912 hectares., or 27, 716 acres!!

REFORESTATION: To date, we have helped the communities reforest 83,400 trees, reforesting a total of about 50 hectares (all part of the community hydrological reserves). Of the about 30 species used, about 75% are native. One of the more important achievements related to the reforestation work is the generation of valuable information on reforestation with native species in cloud forests. Several students from the U.S. and Canada have helped gather, validate, and organize the information (Thank You Sarah Wilson!), and we managed to publish a pretty complete manual on the topic to help communities here and elsewhere, with this very important work.

In the long run, without folks understanding why we are conserving large swaths of forests, there is no way they will be conserved (this holds true for all of the official government reserves, by the way) This is why protection without education is bound to fail. And it is why we are spending more and more time and energy and funds on it. Lately Milton Arcos and our secretary, Wilian Navarrete have been giving a series of workshops on environmental concepts in 10 schools (thank you Angela!!). It’s a start, but there are more than 80 schools in Intag, and the official school curriculum sucks when it comes to Environmental Ed. LOTS of work ahead.

The Fair-trade store that DECOIN opened in Otavalo about 4 years ago to sell goods made by local groups in Intag is still going strong. In fact, it’s still the only Fair Trade store in Otavalo. Besides selling sisal and Tagua handicrafts, hand-made soaps and shampoos, and luffa goodies, the store offers cafeteria service, including freshly brewed RIO INTAG coffee. Next time you are in Otavalo visit us at Calle Colon 4655 and Sucre.


We have been working with the community of Irubí during the past year and more. The project established a community fruit and forest tree nursery and includes reforestation with native species, as well as training local community members in fruit tree and forest tree production.


Besides the book on Intag’s water quality, we are distributing Earth Economics “An Ecological Study of Ecuador’s Intag Region”. The book includes very sound economic arguments showing why mining is less economical than preserving the area’s forests, rivers and biological diversity. The book is already in the hands of dozens of Assembly members, well-known politicians, academics and other influential actors. We are also in the process of distributing it to local governments, organizations and key community members here in Intag (download it here:


FUNDING::: Sorry, but I have to mention that funding was low to very low this past year; especially to cover administrative costs. A lot of the ongoing work above depends on DECOIN having enough funds to pay our people a decent wage- and this is increasingly becoming more difficult. Some of those wages (including administrative costs) are not directly connected to a specific project, yet are absolutely essential to sustain organization like ours. In the past, the Threshold Foundation was instrumental in seeing and helping out with this essential need; however, and as we all know, all good things eventually come to an end, and Threshold will not be able to fund DECOIN this year. We hope that will change next year, but until then consider increasing your support.

MISC:  This is by no means all we’ve accomplished.  Also, there’s no time to go into the details of the many other activities we are working on and will be working on during 2013; such submitting observations to the Provincial Government highlighting the more obvious (very grave) errors with an environmental impact study for the paving of the Intag road that may impact several protected species, including within the Neblina Protected Forest.

2013 promises to be one of the most difficult years for Intag- especially if the Ecuadorian government decides to reactivate the Junin mining project. Therefore, I suspect we will spend a lot of time on mining again, unfortunately. This includes, among many other things, holding a lot more meetings, conferences and workshops on the issues; expanding alliances, producing and/or distributing more educational information (posters, brochures, videos), and seeking legal remedies to the mining curse.

However, we are also looking to expand both the number of community protected areas, and expand existing ones. We also hope to be able to continue and expand our environmental education work in schools, as well as keep supporting the Irubí community. In other words, full speed ahead as usual!  We will also try, as in years past when we created the Rio Intag coffee project and helped develop the Junin ecotourism initiative, to look for and develop economic alternatives to mining.

IF you appreciate what we have managed to do so far, and value what we are currently doing, please dig in your wallets and give us a hand in 2013

Thank you

Carlos Zorrilla
Executive Director
Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag


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