Dozens of International Organizations and Networks Call for an End to State of Emergency and Militarization in Ecuador’s Southern Amazon

December 19, 2016

Today, nearly fifty international organizations and networks sent the following letter to Ecuadorian authorities urging an immediate end to the militarization and the State of Emergency that was declared in the southeastern Amazonian province of Morona Santiago last week. Instead of force, they urged for there to be openness to dialogue over the proposed Panantza-San Carlos mine project with the Shuar and campesino communities in accord with their constitutional and internationally recognized Indigenous and human rights. A joint communiqué translated to English from the National federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) can be found here.

Letter sent December 19, 2016:
Dr. Patricio Benalcázar Alarcón
Defensoría del Pueblo de Ecuador

Javier Felipe Córdova Unda
Ministro de Minería

Abg. Cristina Silva Cadmen
Directora Ejecutiva, Agencia de Regulación y Control Minero (ARCOM)

Dra. Inés Arroyo
Subsecretaría de Tierras y Reforma Agraria

Dr. Galo Chiriboga Zambrano
Fiscalía General del Estado

Esteemed authorities,

The below-signed international organizations write to express their profound concern about the militarization of the Shuar Indigenous communities of Nankints and the State of Emergency that has been declared in the province of Morona Santiago with the aim to impose the Pananzta-San Carlos mine project in the area.

The Shuar Indigenous community of Nankints was evicted by soldiers in August 2016 in order to make way for ExplorCobres S.A.’s Panantza-San Carlos project. When the community sought to recuperate their territory in late November, the area was militarized. Then, on December 14, when police and soldiers reportedly acted on an order from the District Attorney in Gualaquiza to enter the area, a violent confrontation took place that left one police officer dead and seven people wounded.

ExplorCobres S.A. is a subsidiary of the Canadian-registered companies Corriente Resources and CRCC-Tongguan Investment (Canada) Co., themselves subsidiaries of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan. CRCC-Tongguan purchased Corriente Resources and the Panantza-San Carlos project in 2010.

This company should have lost the mining concessions associated with the Panantza-San Carlos project for lack of compliance with the 2008 Mining Mandate, which remains in effect. According to this mandate, mining concessions that were granted without prior consultation of affected communities, or that overlap with sources of water, among other criteria, must be repealed without economic compensation. For these and other reasons, the Auditor General found that this copper, gold and molybdenum project does not meet the Mining Mandate. In addition to other issues, the Auditor General identified over 400 water sources vital to the life and culture of the Shuar people in the 14,000 hectares where the thirteen mining concessions that are part this project are located.

It is important to note that Canadian mining companies – among them Corriente Resources – and the Canadian Embassy in Quito share responsibility for the lack of application of the 2008 Mining Mandate. At the time that it was past, the Embassy and companies fought to defend the economic interests of industry against the rule of law in Ecuador and the negative impacts of these projects in ecologically and culturally sensitive areas, such as that affected by the Panantza-San Carlos project.

Another serious irregularity concerning this project is that the Ministry of the Environment granted it an environmental license in 2011 on the basis of an environment impact study carried out ten years earlier under a different constitutional framework, mining law and environmental legislation than are in place today.

This project does not only affect Nankints, but rather ten Shuar Indigenous Centres belonging to the Tariamiat, Arutam and Churuwia Associations, as well as numerous campesino families. Other Shuar Centres and campesino communities are also in the broader area of influence of the project.

We deeply regret the death of police officer José Luis Mejía Solórzano and express our solidarity with his family, as well as with the others who were wounded. At the same time, we believe that this violence could have been avoided.

In the interest of avoiding further violence and the wellbeing of the affected communities, we urge that you immediately lift the State of Emergency, withdraw the armed forces and the company from the area, and open a process of dialogue with affected communities that would be premised on full respect for their human rights, including to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as other international accords and jurisprudence.

Signed:

Alternatives au Développement Extractiviste et Anthropocentré (ALDEAH)
Amazon Watch, U.S.
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network, Canada
Bios Iguana, México
CATAPA, Belgium
Centro de Documentación e Información Bolivia (CEDIB), Bolivia
CEIBA, Guatemala
Censat Agua Viva, Colombia
Cercle des Premières Nations de l’UQAM, Québec, Canada
Colectivo CASA, Bolivia
Colectivo Voces Ecológicas (COVEC), Panama
Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida, Tolima, Colombia
Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL), Québec, Canada
Cooperacción, Perú
Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag (DECOIN), Ecuador
Defensa del Ixofillmogen – Vancouver, Canada
Delhiin Mongol Nogoon Negdel (DMNN), Mongolia
Earth Law Center, U.S.
Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC), U.S.
The Esperanza Project, U.S.
Friends of the Earth – Canada
Fundación Ecuménica para El Desarrollo y la Paz (FEDEPAZ), Perú
The Gaia Foundation, U.K.
GRUFIDES, Perú
Intercontinental Cry, Canada
Justiça nos Trilhos, Brasil
Justicia, Paz e Integridad de la Creación (JPIC), Chile
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment, Philippines
Kanaka, Ecuador
Listen To The Amazon, U.K.
McGill Research Group Investigation Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA), Canada
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network – Toronto, Canada
Mining Justice Action Committee – Victoria, Canada
Mining Justice Alliance – Vancouver, Canada
MiningWatch Canada
Movimiento Mesoamericano en Contra del Modelo Minero (M4), Regional
Movimiento Morelense Contra las Concesiones Mineras de Metales Preciosos, México
Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL), Regional
Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales (OLCA), Chile
Otros Mundos Chiapas, México
Procesos Integrales para la Autogestión de los Pueblos (PIAP), México
Red Muqui, Peru
Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA), México
Servicios Internacionales Cristianos de Solidaridad con America Latina – Oscar Romero (SICSAL), Canada
United for Mining Justice, Canada


For several commentaries and reports from Ecuadorian organizations (Spanish):

“Urgent: Panantza and San Carlos focus of military attack”
Author: INREDH

“About what occurred in Morona Santiago: We need a bath of peace and truth in concert with nature”
Author: Acción Ecológica

“The impossibility of dialogue led to violence in Nankints”
Author: Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU)

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