(Amazon Watch, 8.Oct.2019) — In response to economic austerity measures announced by Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno on October 1, Ecuador’s National Indigenous Movement, represented by CONAIE (National Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador), announced a national strike, bringing the country to a halt from the Andes to the Amazon.
The government declared a state of emergency on October 3, resulting in arbitrary detentions of indigenous leaders, hundreds of arrests throughout the country, and multiple reports of excessive use of force by the military and police in the streets and in indigenous communities. Indigenous peoples from all regions are marching to the nation’s capital Quito for a massive protest tomorrow.
Thousands of indigenous people have already taken to the streets, and CONAIE and CONFENIAE (National Confederation of Ecuador’s Amazonian Indigenous Peoples) are calling on the Moreno administration to rescind the austerity measures and end new oil and mining extraction, among other demands.
Amazon Women Defenders of the Rainforest issued their own statement calling for peace during this political and ecological crisis. They also demand an immediate response to their declaration presented to President Moreno over a year ago calling for an end to industrial extraction – including oil and mining concessions on indigenous territories of the Ecuadorian Amazon – and an end to the violence and persecution of indigenous leaders.
In response to the national strike by Ecuador’s indigenous movement currently underway throughout the country, Amazon Watch issues the following statement:
“Indigenous peoples are calling for an end to neoliberal economic reforms based on the extractive industry, austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and for an economic model that respects human rights, nature, and the well-being of its people.
Over the last two years, the administration of Lenin Moreno made dozens of agreements and promises with the indigenous movement, including commitments to cease all new oil and mining concessions, investigate rights abuses associated with the extractive industry, and clean up contaminated lands, among others. He broke them all. The indigenous movement engaged in dialogue in good faith with the government for over a year, with scant results. This strike should not have come as a surprise to the Moreno administration. With little recourse left, the indigenous movement is exercising its constitutionally guaranteed right to resistance, to ensure their rights, cultures, forests, and territories are respected and protected.
The country’s announced plan to leave OPEC reveals the government’s economic vision for the future: more oil extraction, which, after five decades, has failed to become the promised economic panacea for the country. Instead, it has devastated indigenous territories, violated rights, and trapped the country in a downward spiral of debt and dependency.
We express our concern, support their demands, and denounce the excessive use of force and violation of basic human rights by the Ecuadorian military and police during the state of emergency. Indigenous peoples and civil society across Ecuador are calling for peace, respect for life, and a restoration of democracy, not the heavy-handed response from the government and state of emergency which has led to violence.
This moment of crisis presents Ecuador with a unique opportunity to heed the call of its people, support indigenous-led solutions, begin a transition to a post-petroleum economy, and put into practice the visionary concepts guaranteed by their Constitution, including the rights of nature and ‘buen vivir‘ (living well), as well as respecting national and international laws on the rights to indigenous peoples. Now is the time to protect and defend the Amazon, indigneous rights, and the climate for all of our collective future.”