Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Indigenous Protests in Ecuador Yield Promise of Dialogue



Posted at 3:10 p.m.

Hundreds of Indigenous people staged protests in several provinces across Ecuador on Monday, voicing concerns over what they perceive to be increased privatization of national resources. The catalyst for the protests is a bill being considered by Congress that indigenous groups say will allow transnational mining corporations to exploit water reserves close to their lands.

In northeastern Ecuador, police intervened to stop the protests, resulting in two injuries.

Leaders of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), who had called for the protests two weeks ago, agreed to suspend the demonstrations Monday. Marlon Santi, president of CONAIE, confirmed Tuesday morning that his group would temporarily halt demonstrations to meet with the government of President Rafael Correa.

But Security Minister Miguel Carvajal said Tuesday that protests in some parts of the country had continued, and that the government would not meet with indigenous representatives until all demonstrations stopped. Nevertheless, the demonstrations have not reached the scale of the CONAIE-organized uprisings that contributed to the fall of President Jamil Mahuad in 2000 and Lucio Gutierrez in 2005.

The proposed water bill is widely expected to pass in the legislature, where Correa enjoys majority backing. Correa has accused indigenous leaders of misrepresenting the bill, which he maintains does not seek to privatize access to water.

Ecuadors indigenous peoples make up some 30 percent of the country’s population.

 

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