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Indigenous leaders say human rights report backs their claims of government violence during the October strike, plan legal action

The government used excessive force that resulted in “unnecessary deaths and injuries” to contain October protests, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The findings of the long-awaited IACHR report were applauded by leaders of Ecuador’s indigenous movements while they were attacked as “biased and unreasonable” by the government.

Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza praises the finding of the human rights report issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (El Comercio)

“Our cause has been proven correct in these findings,” said Jaime Vargas, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie). “We have maintained from the beginning that the government was the aggressor during the strike and used violence against the people. Now, we will proceed with legal actions to seek justice for the protesters who were murdered and injured during the conflict. We are grateful to IACHR for their work and research that confirm our allegations.”

Ecuador Interior Minister María Paula Romo, on the other hand, called the IACHR “short-sighted and incomplete.” At a press conference and in a radio interview, she maintained that the report did not acknowledge criminal acts committed during the strike. “Where is it referenced that protesters kidnapped soldiers and police? Where is it mentioned that journalists were attacked and injured and that public property was vandalized and destroyed?” she asked. “We are very disappointed by the glaring omissions in the report and reject its conclusions.”

Among IACHR recommendations are that the government provide reparations to victims, reaffirm the right to protest, improve its process of dialogue with various constituencies in making economic decisions and investigate the 11 deaths that occurred during the protests. The report also demanded that police and military personnel undergo “sensitivity training” to improve their performance during times of protests.

In its conclusion, the IACHR criticized the government for “poor planning” before it announced the elimination of fuel subsidies in early October, the issue that incited the protests.

At the Conaie press conference, Leonidas Iza, leader of the Cotopaxi Indigenous Movement, dismissed government claims about criminal acts committed during the strike. “It was the violent force used by the police and military that generated these acts,” he said. “It is the government that must be held accountable for the damage it calls criminal. Now that we have been proven right, we intend to demand justice from a government that was clearly out of control.”

Romo said she and her staff will respond to the IACHR report.

20 thoughts on “Indigenous leaders say human rights report backs their claims of government violence during the October strike, plan legal action

  1. Don’t worry guys, the govt. will do a much better job shortly with all that new ‘crowd suppression’
    equipment from the US..

    1. “crowd suppression equipment from the U.S.”….. oh… and from Israel, and France…..all non-lethal, and prescribed by the UN

      1. Yeah, there was an article last week about the 3.6 million dollar purchase of crowd suppression hardware from the US..I’ll see if I can search it out later…

      1. Toby, I think I lost my admiration of US foreign policy somewhere back during the Vietnam days. Today, it’s not high idealism, it’s smoke and mirrors you look at. Corporate business is the #1 product of the US and who is the best rep for that but our esteemed president, who is a fine representative of the billionaire class. The IMF, World Bank, many NGO’s, ‘war on drugs’ are all tools to be used against a restive population…Give it 6 months and we can have this discussion again when Moreno tries to remove the ‘subsidies’ then we will see if I’m only a hardened cynic or you are a little naive…ummm

        1. Switcho, chango! We call you out on your biased spin (and we back it up with one of the actual source news articles)…. and you respond with a diatribe on your political leanings and their origins (totally unrelated, and in which, we care not).

          Conversation in 6 months? I think not…. at least, not with you. Of course, by that time, our “esteemed President” will be well on his way to a second term….”ummmm”

              1. Yes, yes, I know toleration for anyone who would have the gall to disagree with you must not be tolerated

                1. Uhh…. who first called the other guy a name? Anyway, this banter is getting nowhere. So, on another issue; were you able to see the State of the Union Address? It was fantastic: Trump at his best. Then, there was the great news about the impeachment sham going down the tubes. “Four More Years”!!!!

  2. Honestly… Romo’s seemingly unimaginative/macho response deeply saddens me. Why couldn’t the ‘progressive’ government of Ecuador simply say ” We deeply apologize for excesses committed on our side during the conflict… We will pay reparations and do everything possible to be more measured in our future responses …. with the anticipation that the opposition will do the same”? Obstinance and an inability to accept any degree of culpability creates escalation that leads into tragedy. The other is road is called ‘peacemaking’!

    1. Naive to say the least; “…. with the anticipation that the opposition will do the same”…. did you ever hear of ANTIFA in the U.S.? Who is supposed to make the call to have Enforcement “stand down”, and allow law-breakers do their thing?

    2. Thanks for your thoughtful response to the government reaction to the IAHCR report. This report is a ”human rights” report, after all. The government statement by Minister Romo is unnecessarily defensive and unhelpful given the history of the protests, the clear mistakes made by the govt. last fall and it is not respectful of the peoples’ many other challenges in this country today . The approach in this reaction is to ask for more trouble in the future. Accepting responsibility, as you state, is grown-up and decent behaviour. It is not common for many so-called populist governments across the world. The people of Ecuador are suffering with high unemployment and rising costs. Where ARE the peace makers?

  3. Bull. If the government just lets the vandals run rampant, then they are accused (rightly) of not protecting the property of store owners and others living in the affected area. If the government does protect that property, the vandals scream “brutality!” and want to get paid compensation for being prevented from destroying the city.

    The government could have gone much further in stamping out the protesters. They showed tremendous restraint, using only the amount of force needed to protect themselves and property.

  4. If the IACHR wants them paid they should do it with their money from the UN. Why hasn’t the terrorist Jaime Vargas been locked up.

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