Chinese Mineral Extractions are causing gross infringements of Human Rights & the Rights of Nature violations in Ecuador. Campesinos and Indigenous came together today in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador to speak out at a Public Tribunal to tell of the violations and concerns of indigenous people for contamination of the rivers, air and soil in the affected communities by Chinese owned Mining Company ‘ExplorCobres-Ecuacorriente,’ (Tongling).
Among the speakers who organized the event were Lina Solana and Georgina Gutama who represent the Women’s Front & Defenders of Pacha Mama (Freunte de Mujeres Defensoras de Pachamama),
Other speakers who participated, represented The Coordinadora Campesina Popular, Asociacionde Campeinos de Limon Indanza and Bloque Peoltario Ecuador, the motive of the tribunal was to publicly request the government to suspend mining activities in Río Blanco and Panantza-San Carlos.
The Tribunal was also motivated to raise awareness of the brutal eviction of the Shuar community of Nankints, San Carlos Panantza, who three weeks ago were violently evicted by several groups of armed military soldiers for Chinese Mining interests to have access to their land. Gross violations against Indigenous Rights and the Rights of Nature are being ignored by International laws and the continued exploitation of imperialist Chinese mining companies in the Andean and Rain forest biomes of Ecuador continue to be exploited.
The above map is courtesy of Ecuacorriente, showing the industrialization and mining takeover of the Ecuadorian countryside, you can see over eight mining areas in San Juan Bosco, Limón and Gaulaquiza and more are being proposed.
Speakers in the People’s Tribunal examined the current unfolding invasion of Imperialist commercialism and how it is affecting the local campesino economies, destroying the lives of indigenous people in the rain forests and rural agricultural areas of Ecuador at such a large scale and rapid pace.
Indigenous groups in Ecuador have been recognized under the United Nations to which there exists a non-binding agreement, which gives indigenous groups the chance to defend their lives, land, and culture. Guaranteed throughout the Declaration is the right to a process of “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” for indigenous peoples when faced with decisions, projects, or legislation by corporations or government that may affect their people and/or territory. Article 57. 7 of the 2008 Constitution of Ecuador guarantees free, prior and informed consultation, within a reasonable period; however, this does not require consent (and is not binding). Article 82 refers explicitly to environmental consultation, in the case of a state decision which might affect the environment, and specifies broad and timely information for those affected. However, even if there is a majority opposing the project in question, it may still be carried out on the condition that the impact on those affected and the ecosystem is minimized.
On the morning of Thursday, August 11 2016, a military operation of 2000 soldiers proceeded to evict the residents of the Shuar community of Nankints, in the south of Ecuador, so mining could go ahead. This is just one incident among many in the area where soldiers and Caterpillar diggers were deployed to destroy people’s houses in the area. The Chinese Mineral Company heading this project has violated the right to consultation, enshrined in Article 57.7 of the Ecuadorian Constitution, in Articles 6 and 15.2 of Convention 169 of the ILO, and Article 19 of the Declaration UN Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This occurred because the Ecuadorian State gave consent to Corriente Resources, now owned by Chinese transnational corporations and Tonglin CRCC to extract a deposit of 3,200 hectares of copper, gold and molybdenum. The company plans to build two open pit mines in which it will process 90,000 tons of copper per day, generating large amounts of waste, using thousands of liters of water every day. The project has a lifespan of 21 years, which will extract a total of 678 million tons of ore. Upon completion of operations, the company proposes that the two opencast mines will be filled with fresh water.
Previously, the Mirador project which is less than half the size of the Panantza-San Carlos project was estimated that only 54,000 tons were extracted, the amount of waste after 17 years will reach 325 000,000 tonnes, about 4 times the volume of Cerro Panecillo Quito. Prior to this, military operation, harassment, threats of eviction were made by the police along with the mining company and government officials against the Shuar Indians, who were eventually evicted on the 11th of August without ever having received any notification or prior consultation with respect to the Declaration under Article 57 .
The People’s Tribunal said that there were 10,000 AK47 riffles provided to the Ecuadorian Military and Police courtesy of the Corriente Explore Corbres, Chinese Mining company Tongling. The Ecuadorian army is facilitating the mining invasion by attacking and forcibly removing the indigenous campesinos from their land
The list of violations continue to pile up each year that betray the Ecuadorian Constitution for the Rights of Nature, Indigenous People’s Rights and the Right to Resistance, Human Rights to clean water among other violations continually ignored by the Ecuadorian government. While the use of armed forces with the aim of displacing indigenous people from their communities are international violations, so that Transnational mining projects can continue to exploit the unique biomes and ecosystems of Ecuador.
This mining project is under control of Explorcobres S.A (EXSA), a subsidiary mining company Ecuacorriente, Chinese-funded and affiliated with Canadian interests under “Project Panantza-San Carlos” the mining projects cover an area of 14,000 hectares located in the areas of Limón Indanza (San Miguel de Conchay) and San Juan Bosco (Santiago de Panantza and San Carlos de Limón ) in the province of Morona Santiago which is an area of tropical forest being systematically destroyed by mining and oil companies. These same companies control the Mirador project and are known by the abuses committed against residents of Zamora Chinchipe, where there have also been systematic violent displacements of indigenous people forcibly removed from their land, an all too common theme with Trans National Corporations in South America.
In November 2015, the Ministry of Environment granted the renewal of the environmental license number. 986 for the exploitation phase metal ore mining in Rio Blanco. In the same month the National Water Secretariat issued the resolution authorizing the use and exploitation of water to the Rio Blanco mining project. The Secretary of State added that these investigations are the basis of environmental impact studies and environmental management plan for the project and “where it is determined that there is no affectation water sources on the mining project that might harm communities. ”
The above map courtesy of Ecuacorriente, shows the affected areas, as you can see they are along many important river systems that indigenous people rely on for farming and fishing, they also use the water for domestic purposes, use the rivers as part of their daily lives.
Most of these mines are along rivers that support thousands of indigenous communities. The Panantza-San Carlos project affects multiple communities of at least 10 Indigenous Shuar Centers of Tariamiat Associations, Arutam and Churuwia, as well as numerous peasant campesino families. In the area of influence of the project are the Shuar Kupiamais, Waakis, Ayantás, Piunts centers, which belong to the Shuar Associations and Arutam Bomboiza. In this area there are farms affected at: Rocafuerte, Santa Rosa, La Delicia, San Miguel, 27 and other localities. The Panantza-San Carlos project is located in south-east province of Morona Santiago, which is the territory of the Shuar people, historically known as “the people of the sacred waterfalls”.
These Mafia mining projects are the largest threat to the life of indigenous Ecuadorians and their local economies and ecosystems that are vital source of Ecuadorian farmers and indigenous peoples. As we are seeing a global movement of mining giants operate via several conditions to take over:
- Neo-colonial and semi-colonial parasitic states are criminalizing legal systems with the assistance of armed police and military and puppet media services;
- Imperialist government strategies are implemented to help facilitate weaponization and assault of mining companies on local indigenous people and to help remove indigenous people from their ancestral territories by using the military and police as Corporate soldiers, this is an echoed story and sad reality of hundreds of thousands of communities throughout Latin America and the world over, where transnational mining companies are present with government support to exploit, threaten, harass and kill local peasant and indigenous communities defending their ancestral territories, rivers and ecosystems from being contaminated. Transnational mining is rapidly destroying ecosystems, polluting water, soil, air, and destroying the self sustainable way of life for indigenous people and farmers as well as destroying the small family economies, which in turn generates violence and breeds crime.
The People’s Tribunal Stated–
We reject the project Pananza- San Carlos and the militarization of the area:
The Coordinadora Campesina Popular CCP, the Association of Campesinos in Limon Indanza ACLI, the Women’s Front & Guardians of the Amazon and the Proletarian Block Ecuador united to create a people’s tribunal to protest against these violations against Indigenous Peoples Rights and against the Rights of Nature.
- Those that are directly affected by the mining activities reject, once again, the mining invasion of Explorcobres-Ecuacorrientes (transnational China, Tongling) south of Morona Santiago, (an area of uniquely biodiverse rain forest, Savanas and rivers continuously being contaminated by mining activity and forest being destroyed).
- Human rights violations need to be addressed by international human rights tribunal for the forced and violent eviction by the military and police (for Explorcobres Ecuacorrientes) which occurred last Friday, August 11, 2016 to the Shuar community in Nankints, Ecuador.
- We adamantly reject the militarization and occupation by Jose Serrano, by deploying hundreds of soldiers and police to repress and intimidate the rural indigenous community of Pananza, San Miguel de Conchay, the area of which has been invaded by the Chinese Corporation, Tongling.
- Human rights violations using arms of 10,000 AK47 riffles deployed and provided to the Ecuadorian Military and Police courtesy of the Corriente ExplorCorbres Chinese Mining company Tongling, during the assault on local indigenous people in Pananza. The Ecuadorian army is facilitating the mining invasion by attacking its own people the campesinos and indigenous of the forest.
The struggle endured by the people
In these times of such battles between the people and corporate transnational imperialism, the invasion of mining companies in Ecuador and the run up to next year’s presidential election of 2017, is of great concern to the Ecuadorian people most affected by these violations. There is a great deal of exploitation against human rights and the rights of nature due to political corruption and propaganda that the West is unaware of as international corporations enjoy protection privileges provided under the Trans Pacific Partnership. The campesinos and indigenous people of Ecuador are aware that some who claim to represent the people and fight against the mining companies are only using this as an excuse to gain support with no real plans to defend the cause when they are in for a cut of the mining profits and sadly some non profit organizations and politicians have stakes in the destruction yet they pretend to be resistant. With this, we hope the message of today’s People’s tribunal will encourage awareness and to strengthening grassroots organizations who have true motives to protect Nature and people to stand strong against the imperialistic deception and raise awareness to human rights violations and the environment to the global communities.
All in the name of development for the people:
The mining companies use a public campaign to deceive and coerce local communities and workers by saying that they mine responsibly, without using chemicals and with advanced technology that will not harm wildlife or rivers, that the mining companies will benefit the locals communities by creating jobs, however, most of what they promise are empty dreams and after they have raped the land of minerals and gold, they leave a trail of ecocide and irreversible damage, killing the fish in the river and irreversible damage of chemicals in the soil, causing cancer in local communities, destroying local waterways, polluting the rivers as they have in Peru with toxic chemicals, so that people can no longer live off of their land.
ExplorCobres- Ecuacorriente use misleading slogans in their advertising campaigns in order to attempt to gain support and workers from the local indigenous communities. As a consequence developing countries globally have opened doors to the Trans national mining industry and have been converted into becoming even more dependent as slave countries to Western domination; so that nature can be raped of raw materials to supply Western and Asian governments with all their needs at the cost of ecocide and destruction of the livelihoods of poor farmers and indigenous people having their ancestral lands decimated in the process, bypassing international laws under the United Nations for the Rights of Nature and Indigenous people to be consulted before forcefully taking their land away. We need to strengthen international laws to stop Ecocide, or most South American countries like Ecuador will be turned into an open industrial wasteland at the consequence and livelihoods of rural indigenous people and the loss of over 50 percent of the world’s biodiversity that resides in parts of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
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 Pink Dolphin” were taken by Mr. Schafer.