Conaie plans anti-mining protest Friday, announces opposition to all referendum questions

Mar 20, 2024 | 0 comments

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) announced Tuesday that it will stage a protest Friday at a mining site east of Quito. “We are forced to confront all mining activity that affects indigenous territory, and we will do this through confrontation and resistance, if necessary,” Conaie President Leonidas Iza said.

Conaie President Leonidas Iza

Conaie objects to new Mining Ministry guidelines it claims make it easier for mining companies to begin operations in Ecuador. On March 7, the organization filed a lawsuit in the Constitutional Court challenging the rules, claiming they violate the constitutional right of “prior consultation” by communities affected by mining.

“These new rules are clearly designed to favor mining companies and the economic groups that profit from extractive operations,” Iza said. “We will bring together indigenous and social organizations opposed to mining Friday, at Conocoto. The protest will include a convention to plan future uprisings throughout the country.”

Iza said he is not concerned with government warnings that the protest could violate rules against mass gatherings during the current emergency decree period. “Our voices will not be silenced by the authorities,” he said, adding: “In his meeting with mining companies in Canada last week, the president said the ‘door is open’ for new projects in Ecuador and that is why the [Mining] Ministry has issued its new manual making it easier for them to begin operations. We intend to shut that door.”

Also on Tuesday, Conaie said it would oppose all 11 questions on the April 21 national referendum. “We categorically reject the intention of using this popular consultation to incorporate the hourly contract in the labor regime, as it means a regression of rights and job insecurity. The consultation also seeks to recognize international arbitration tribunals and this poses a serious risk to the security and legal sovereignty of the Ecuadorian state, especially to indigenous nationalities,” a Conaie statement said.

Iza demanded that indigenous organizations “get in line” with the Conaie position, responding to suggestions by some leaders that their members should approve questions aimed at strengthening law enforcement activities against narco crime. “No, this is not the correct position. We want a total ‘no’ vote and a total repudiation of this government and its neoliberal plans,” Iza said.

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