Environment | Opinion | World

Peter d'Errico: Indigenous community battles invasion in Ecuador






Ana Segarra takes part in a march in Quito, Ecuador, to show solidarity with the Shuar people in their fight against a mining company and the government. Photo: CONAIE (La Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador)

It's not happening just at Standing Rock. Retired professor Peter d'Errico shares word of a struggle in Ecuador, where the indigenous Shuar people are facing threats to their homeland:
Al Jazeera reported on December 29 that the government of Ecuador has deployed thousands of military and police personnel to impose a “state of exception” across the Amazonian province of Morona Santiago—which encompasses the ancestral territories of the Indigenous Shuar People. The mobilization and “state of exception” were announced as a response to the death of a police officer during a Shuar attempt to take over a mining camp on December 14. No evidence has been provided to show the cause of death.

The Shuar are protesting an invasion of their homelands by a Chinese mining company—EcuaCobres SA (EXSA)—that would create the world’s second largest open pit copper mine, estimated to generate $1.2bn in annual profits. The company has already begun advanced exploration for gold and copper extraction.

The area planned for the mine lies within a 41,000 hectare “concession” (more than 100,000 acres) arranged by the Ecuadorian government to convert the legal status of Indigenous lands into private property owned by the company. Nearly 50% of the “concessions” are on Shuar homelands. Al Jazeera described the area as “the uniquely biodiverse Cordillera del Condor, a mountain range connecting Ecuador’s southern Andes with the Amazon.”

The Shuar, allied with mestizo farmers and environmental activists like the organization Accion Ecologica, have been protesting the mining plan since it was first proposed by a Canadian company in the 1990s. In 2006, they succeeded in expelling EXSA from the region and followed up by establishing settlements to maintain Shuar presence and assertion of ownership.

Read More on the Story:
Peter d'Errico: Indigenous Shuar People Need Stronger Legal Support In Fight Against Chinese Mining Company (Indian Country Today 12/31)