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High court denies mining referendum request

By a five to two vote, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court rejected a request to allow a public referendum on mining in Azuay Province. The request had been submitted by Azuay Prefect Yaku Pérez who favors banning most mining in the province.

Azuay Prefect Yaku Perez

In its ruling, the court said that “the question regarding the request of the citizen initiative to request a popular consultation, entered to this court by Mr. Yaku Pérez Guartambel, does not guarantee the full freedom of voters and is not supported by the constitution.”

The court also said that a vote to restrict mining would jeopardize a number of large projects that are already in progress or are in exploratory stages in the province. According to the mining ministry, Azuay Province contains more gold and silver reserves than any other province in the country. In total, 812 mining concessions have been granted in the province with more than 200 within the municipal boundaries of Cuenca, most of them in the Cajas Mountains.

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The referendum was opposed by the national chambers of mining and commerce which argued that mining should be administered at the national, not the local level. Following the court decision, Perez said he would lead a national campaign to allow a popular vote on mining.

8 thoughts on “High court denies mining referendum request

  1. I am no fan of referendums. They make a joke of democracy. They are merely a way to pass the buck from representatives elected to make decisions to an electorate without much clue on what they are voting for.

    Taken to their logical conclusion, why not do away with elections completely, and merely have the electorate vote and decide everything through their Iphones or ‘puters. We would all give up our day jobs to be properly informed.

  2. Democracy can only work to the full extent of its original intent, if and only if, the electorate is educated. Today, do we have that anywhere in the world, including the U.S.?

    1. Romulo, You are sadly right. Not because everyone is stupid but rather because government has become a super complex business with issues that take years of study and experience to master. We all have day jobs.

      The only way government can work well is with people trained to do it well. We should be voting for candidates with the proper training and skills to run, maintain and expand the shared infrastructure. Instead we vote for celebrities, good campaigners, or those who pretend to espouse the same “values” as we profess. Frankly, what does espousing the same values as I like have to do with picking up the garbage on time or clean water?

  3. Cuenca’s water supply comes from the very area that over 800 mining concessions have been granted…sludge, ore waste, mercury…All will be dumped into the nearest stream…a disaster ready to happen….

  4. This is actually a victory for Carlos Perez Guartambel, the mestizo turned self-appointed spokesperson for the indigenous community. Had this gone to a referendum and been approved by the voters (or even rejected), he wouldn’t have anything to run on in the next election. Banning mining is literally his only issue. Now that Moreno’s handpicked Supreme Court has kept the issue alive, this nascent demagogue will have something to distract from his forthcoming abysmal record as prefect.

    1. Yes. Partisan-appointed judiciary is a signature characteristic of presidential republics, monarchies, dictatorships and other forms of non-democratic regimes.

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