Government to make second attempt to capture fugitives in the jungle

May 11, 2014

President Rafael Correa says that national police and military personnel will make a second attempt to capture a fugitive national assemblyman and two associates believed to be harbored by the Sarayaku community, an indigenous tribe in Ecuador’s Amazon region.

chl sarakuya1Two weeks ago, a government helicopeter was forced to leave the area when it was surrounded by Sarayaku villagers, many wearing traditional warrior body paint and carrying spears and firearms.

The government’s objective is the capture of Assemblyman Cléver Jiménez, his advisor Fernando Villavicencio and physician Carlos Figueroa. The three were convicted in a libel case against Correa and have been sentenced to prison in absentia.

Besides taking the three fugitives into custody, the police operation will attempt to collect firerms owned by members of the Sarayaku community. The Sarayaku say the firearms are needed for hunting but Correa says their possession is a violation of the law.

During the dispute, Sarayaku leaders have claimed that they have sovereignty over their ancestral lands while Correa says the tribe is bound by the laws of Ecuador.

Correa said that he would declare a state of emergency if the Sarayaku do not cooperate with law enforcement personnel.

 

Photo caption: President Correa says he wants to disarm Sarayaku warriors like these.

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