By Javier Rodríguez Pardo
It was held in Ibarra, Imbabura province, the Regional Forum "The Ecuador we want" with the participation of peoples affected by extractive activities. Representatives of the social movements of Chile, Peru, Argentina, the United States, Canada, and local environmental activists, converged in presentations that allowed a debate on the contamination, destruction and looting of the mining transnationals, among others.
In Ibarra, province of Imbabura, northwestern Ecuador, on November 19 and 20 the Regional Forum “The Ecuador we want” was held with the participation of peoples affected by extractive activities. We were specially invited to present our message and experience, we lived in historical conferences with the peasant, indigenous and non-governmental organizations of Ecuador. Representatives of the social movements of Chile, Peru, Argentina, the United States, Canada, and local environmental activists, converged in presentations that allowed to debate on the contamination, destruction and looting of the mining transnationals, the imposed economic model, and the document that they will present in the Constituent Assembly that will meet in the next few days in the town of Montecristi and that will define the new course of Ecuador. The document signed by half a thousand delegates, mostly from the northern region, the Amazon and the coast, literally says:
That the global environmental crisis of our planet, caused by the ecological devastation product of the economic model imposed by transnational capital, which prioritizes economic profitability, and which threatens the supply of essential common goods for the maintenance of life, such as water.
That Ecuador is going through a historical and transcendental political moment of defining the development model and the country that we want to build.
That the peoples have the right to live in a healthy environment free of contamination, to access, control and manage our common goods, misnamed natural resources.
That the activities of mining, oil, logging, hydroelectric, shrimp companies, among others, have violated constitutional precepts, human and collective rights in different provinces of the country, as we have found in this meeting.
That there is a constant and flagrant violation of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which guarantees the rights of indigenous and black peoples.
That the looting carried out by the mining transnationals in the sister countries of Chile, Argentina and Peru have only left environmental, economic, political, social and cultural impacts, and have not improved the economic conditions of the countries and much less of the communities, and that threaten the extinction of peoples.
That the transnational companies established in the countries participating in this meeting, as well as in Ecuador, have fostered criminalization strategies expressed in the persecution, intimidation, imprisonment, prosecutions, among others, with the sole purpose of accessing the areas where who intend to develop their projects.
That before the invasion of extractive projects, the communities have proposed alternatives, many of them already in execution, such as the municipal declaration of "Cantón Ecológico de Cotacachi," or the different low-impact activities managed and controlled by community-based organizations of the type tourist, productive, solidarity basket associations, or experiences of community life expressed in this event.
That we have maintained sustainable ways of life, we have developed and can carry out sustainable and sustainable activities that are currently threatened by mining, shrimp, hydroelectric, and logging companies, among others.
Recognizing the commitment of the communities and organizations, national and international present at this meeting, interested in defending our natural resources, sources of life and livelihoods against private and transnational business activities.
That we are the managers of the sustainability of our peoples, the same that is present in the peasant and indigenous communities, in the agricultural, fishing, collecting, shell, artisanal peoples and communities, etc.
That Ecuador is a country rich in natural (common goods) and cultural resources, which is about to enter the historical process of the Constituent Assembly, where we see the opportunity to think about what kind of country we want to build and sustain.
We are committed to:
Assume as a priority the existence and life of peoples in harmony with the environment. The defense of our territories and common goods and resistance to policies and projects that threaten our lives.
Ensure that the Constituent Assembly builds the Ecuador we want with the participation and contribution of the existing communities in all corners of the national territory. Well, the present and future does not depend only on 130 constituent assembly members.
Mobilize Montecristi to support our demands in the Constituent Assembly.
Strengthen the fight against mining companies, through the unshakable unity of the peoples so as not to let us take away the future.
Build endurance corridors across the country.
Articulate our struggles and participate in national and international networks for the defense of nature.
Strengthen the spaces of resistance in the northern region of Ecuador and articulate our struggles to support us, protect ourselves and propose joint development alternatives.
Socialize the knowledge acquired in other communities and spaces related to mining and other environmental problems.
Continue promoting initiatives such as moratoriums, municipal ordinances such as the one declared by the Ecological Canton of Cotacachi, ministerial decrees, popular consultations and others that allow us to protect our natural resources (common goods).
Defend and promote sustainable projects that improve the quality of life of local communities.
To recover the traditional practices of cultivation, consumption, and alternative forms of exchange, as well as the revaluation of our common goods and cultural values.
Participate and demand our local governments, actions that promote the defense of the environment, collective rights and sources of livelihood of the communities.
Solidarity with national and international struggles in defense of life.
Therefore we demand that:
Ecuador is declared A COUNTRY FREE OF LARGE-SCALE MINING
The Ordinance of Cotacachi Cantón Ecológico is respected by the central government.
The limits of the Cotacachi Cayapas Reserve in the Intag area are reformulated and expanded, including the eastern slope of the Cordillera del Toisán.
The Constituent Assembly declares national priorities the right to water, food sovereignty, and access, sustainable management and control of common goods (natural resources) by local communities or peoples, as opposed to other extraction activities.
The National Constituent Assembly declares amnesty for the leaders persecuted for the defense of common goods. There can be no constituent with persecuted.
Environmental protection laws are enforced for both small and large companies that extract natural resources.
Environmental crimes are penalized so that they do not remain in impunity.
The right of communities to disagree is respected, that is, the right to reject or say NO to mining projects.
Given in Ibarra, Ecuador, November 20, 2007. "
There was a large diversity of ethnic groups present in the forum, Afro communities and Chachi centers on the banks of the Cayapas River, such as the Kichwa people of Sarayaku and colonist groups from the Amazon, who had their voice. Countless resistance actions were narrated by "leaders" from different communities, such as the experience of the Intag people in Cotacachi, Imbabura province, who had the strength and decision to expel the transnational mining company Ascendant Cooper Corporation, despite the mercenaries. paramilitaries that it had hired “perpetrating attacks against the population, physical abuse, injuries, death threats and intimidation with firearms, persecution, slander, false cases against leaders, invasion of farms, illegal purchases of land, division of the population, etc. " part of the complaints registered by the Ecumenical Human Rights Commission, as occurs in communities in Peru, Bolivia or Argentina accustomed to the same operation of the mining companies, the transnational mafia.
Ecuador now has the possibility of a new National Constitution through the Constituent Assembly. The document that we anticipate here will form part of the discussions in pursuit of Ecuador that the people want.
* Chubut Antinuclear Movement (MACH). National Network for Environmental Action (RENACE). Union of Citizen Assemblies (UAC).