Government of Ecuador Must Reinstate Environmental and Indigenous Rights Group

THE AMAZON PINK DOLPHIN’S VOICE

SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras:09/12/2013

Government of Ecuador Must Reinstate Environmental and Indigenous Rights Group

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The Ecuadorian government should immediately reverse their illegal and arbitrary effort to dissolve Fundación Pachamama, the organization’s San Franciscobased sister group said today.  Yesterday, December 4th, plain-clothes police officers in Quito, Ecuador, appeared at the offices of Fundación Pachamama and proceeded to shut down their facilities. The action was backed up by a resolution from the Ministry of Environment ordering the dissolution of the organization for “interference in public policy” and “threatening the internal security and peace” of the country.

The government’s action comes on the heels of indigenous protests last week against Ecuador’s plans to open some 2.6 million hectares of rainforest to new oil drilling.  The oil auction only received three offers, and was widely deemed a failure.  President Correa lashed out in a weekend television address, falsely accusing Fundación Pachamama of fomenting violence during a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons, though no members of the organization were involved.  Fundación Pachamama plans to appeal the government’s decision before the Ministry of the Environment.

“The real reason the government has targeted Fundación Pachamama is because of the effectiveness of their work,” said Bill Twist, CEO and co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance, their sister organization based in San Francisco.  “This is an attempt to keep them from doing their work, and chill their rights to free speech and assembly,” he continued.

This dissolution is considered an arbitrary act that seeks to repress Fundación Pachamama’s legitimate right to disagree with the government’s policies, such as the decision to turn over Amazonian indigenous people’s land to oil companies, in direct violation of their constitutional rights.

For 16 years, Fundación Pachamama has worked in solidarity with indigenous organizations of Ecuador’s Amazon to defend their rights and their homelands.  It played a fundamental role in the establishing of the Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s constitution.  It also works to present a new, sustainable vision for development in Ecuador’s Amazon and the country as a whole.  The foundation also established the first solar boat transportation system for indigenous peoples in Ecuador’s Amazon, and is working with healthcare professionals to train women and communities in safe birth practices.

Nonprofit organizations throughout the world are calling for the reopening of Fundación Pachamama, denouncing efforts of the Ecuadorian government to repress civil liberties, and but also for the good of all social organizations, indigenous and educational, that are at risk in Ecuador.

 

SOURCE The Pachamama Alliance

Ecuador shuts down nonprofit environmental group

 

Martin Jaramillo, File/Associated Press – FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS – FILE – President Rafael Correa gives a thumbs-up as he leaves a polling station after voting in Quito, Ecuador, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. Ecuadoreans were electing president, vice-president and National Assembly members with Correa highly favored to win a second re-election.

QUITO, Ecuador — President Rafael Correa’s government has shut down a nonprofit environmental group that opposes Amazon rainforest oil drilling, alleging it was involved in disturbing public order.

The closure Wednesday is the first of an advocacy group by Correa’s government, which has been criticized as hostile to free expression and has broadened state authority over nonprofits by decree this year.

More than a dozen government agents descended unannounced on the Quito offices of the Pachamama Foundation and shut it down.

“We consider it an act of violence,” foundation director Belen Paez said. “That is not how one notifies a legally constituted organization that it is being shut down.”

She says the group did nothing illegal and will file suit in Ecuador and an appeal to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights.

Correa had accused Pachamama of participating in the physical harassment last week of Chile’s ambassador and a Bielorussian businessman after they left a presentation on Amazon oil concessions.

In a Saturday TV appearance, Correa showed photos of protesters and fingered some as Pachamama members. The Interior Ministry accused the nonprofit via Twitter of “straying from its statutory objectives” and endangering “internal security and public peace.”

Paez denied any Pachamama activists were involved in the harassment.

“What angers President Correa is that we are at the front lines in a conflict over this country’s economic development. We oppose the expansion of the frontier of oil exploration into the Amazon,” said Paez.

Her organization works closely with Achuar indigenous people, who oppose the exploration, said Patricia Usner, special projects director of the Pachamana Alliance, a San Francisco-based sister organization.

Pachamama means “Mother Earth” in the native Quechua and Quichua languages. The foundation says it has eight workers in Ecuador and an annual budget of $800,000 from donors including Germany, Finland, Norway, Holland, Italy and Belgium.

The protest last week followed the government’s auction of 13 oil concessions in the provinces of Pastaza and Morona Santiago on the Peruvian border.

The nonprofits say they oppose the drilling because the government has not sought the approval of natives living in the region.

Correa has been at loggerheads with environmentalists since announcing in August plans to extract oil from the pristine Yasuni National Park. An initiative he announced in 2007 failed to persuade rich countries to pay Ecuador not to drill there.

 

Associated Press Writer Frank Bajak contributed from Lima, Peru

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: The Washington Post

Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Selvavidasinfronteras.wordpress.com

Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Frank Brouwer

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 

 

 

~ by FSVSF Admin on 9 December, 2013.

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