DECLARATION OF THE PEOPLE'S GATHERING FOR LIFEPublished by MAC on 2007-01-15
DECLARATION OF THE PEOPLE'S GATHERING FOR LIFE
Sigsig – Cuenca – Gualaquiza
ECUADOR, January 2007
(English version by David Modersbach)
"Each individual life is transitory, but the adventure of the living system and of the collective identities transcends time... The ethic of sustainability places the value of life above that of political-economic or practical-instrumental interests... It is an ethic for the permanent renovation of life, from where everything is born, grows, sickens, dies and is reborn. The preservation of this permanent cycle of life implies the knowledge of how to manage time so that the earth and land is renewed, life unfolds in all its forms, so that all people and cultures live in harmony with their worlds."
Manifesto for Life, May 2002
1. Our planet is passing through a great environmental crisis, a product of a predatory system, which under the pretext of macroeconomic growth, development, progress and other fallacies, has caused the massive impoverishment of the population, exclusion and social injustice, the destruction of ecosystems, the mercantilization of life, putting price on and appropriating of the biodiversity and the ancestral knowledge's, disrespecting our cultures, imposing their consumerist model and unsustainable lifestyle upon us.
2. Neoliberal globalization which has sheltered the greed of business corporations, has brought the great disparities to unsustainable limits: The concentration of riches in certain groups of power at a national and global level at the cost of the misery and lack of the basic needs at home and the ever-widening breach between rich and poor, through the persistent plunder of natural and human resources, the contradiction between the generation of high levels of science and technology, coexisting with hunger and the illnesses of underdevelopment.
3. Big economic interests linked to political power are subjugating the peoples and countries through the uses of international instruments and organisms, such as the OMC, which promotes the commerce of biodiversity, and international multinational finance organizations (World Bank, IMF, Inter-American Development Bank and others) who impose concessions for mining operations. This is the domain of the mining, petroleum, hydroelectric, lumber multinationals… who in their wake have left devastation, illness, death, appropriation of lands in few hands, exploitation of local workforces, child labor, unemployment and misery.
4. Large-scale mining – carried out exclusively by transnationals – causes grave and irreversible consequences to the environment and public health, undermining cultural values and ethics, destroying traditions vital for the maintenance of solidarity and unity of families and communities, generating conflicts and social problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, gambling, and domestic violence against women and children.
5. Nowhere in there world does there exist even one example of where, after mining operations are carried out, local populations have achieved progress, elevated their quality of life, and where promised environmental restoration is carried out. On the contrary: The only things that remain are the crumbs of the small handouts, and greater environmental and human impoverishment. When the mines are exhausted, the communities end up with their lands devastated, small sustenance economies are broken by the abandonment of agricultural and livestock livelihoods in favor of consumerist practices, the migration of rural workers returning to the slavery of mining, and the damaging of all the senses of the lives and homes of campesinos and indigenous persons.
6. The destruction generated by the transnational mining firms causes serious damages to sources of water resources and the appropriation of water to benefit precious few. The vital liquid is more and more necessary for the people, and cannot be continued to be handed over to the transnationals.
7. In the context of the devastation caused by large-scale mining, the situation of women is doubly affected by the unequal relations and the marginalization to which they are submitted by the displacement of activities such as producers and collectors of food and water, providers, caretakers and child raisers. The work of women becomes multiplied, which is the cause of more sickness, many women are forced into informal economies in order to find additional sources of income.
8. This whole panorama has generated resistance and protests of the communities and organizations who are defending life, promoting a new economic, social and environmental system, based upon sovereignty. As a response, the groups in power and the governments at the service of the transnationals have acted to militarize the mining areas, with forces consisting of army, police and mercenary operatives, carrying out all sorts of violations of human rights, including disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, murders and assassinations, rape, arson of buildings and crops, etc.
9. To break with this scheme of capitalist "civilization" in crisis: This is the imperative for the people. The necessary profound transformations should lead to a model of development based in authentic sustainability – economic and ecological sustainability, socially and politically just – in a form that enables us to preserve the cycle of life.
10. It is urgent to terminate the imperialist control over natural resources and heritage in order to create and maintain a healthy environment for everyone. Governments and multilateral organizations should cease to be accessories to the transnationals and imperialism. We demand the transformation of a world system of commerce which ceases to violate human, environmental, economic and health rights of people throughout the world, which compensates for the damages caused to the countries of the South. We urge the absolute nationalization of natural patrimony and resources.
11. The communities, organizations and citizen participants in the PEOPLE'S GATHERING FOR LIFE, united in this objective, demand from the State and Government of Ecuador:
To declare Ecuador as a COUNTRY FREE OF LARGE-SCALE MINING, which means the annulment of mining concessions and the immediate cease of mining operations by transnational firms and their subsidiaries, the ratification and suspension of large-scale mining activities in Morona Santiago, Zamora Chinchipe and Imbabura. We declare a robust NO to large-scale and open-pit mining. This position of the people is not negotiable! We demand as well a moratorium in the expansion in the petroleum exploitation. That companies, both transnational and international, the public institutions and the military become accountable and respond economically, socially and legally, for their destructive and risky activities which have had so much impact upon the health and environment of the population.
That all economic policies and development projects become subject to evaluation processes with respect to their impacts upon the health, environment, equity and gender, including regulatory mechanisms to insure their compliance, and that projects which have a large level of negative effects and impacts not be permitted. That restrictions and precautions be applied to all cases where any technology implies potential threats to health and environment.
To construct a new system of indicators of the integral well-being of the population which permit the measurement and social monitoring of the state of health and well-being of people and nature. Gross National Product as a principal indicator of well-being is merely the synthesis of a reductionist and unequal system under which foreign investment and extraction such as large-scale mining is promoted.
To strengthen small producers of agriculture and livestock within the framework of a policy of food sovereignty, which would guarantee the basic sustenance of our households.
To defend the right to water as a human right. To prevent all forms of appropriation of water resources on the part of the transnationals, including the construction of multipurpose dams which affect the community rights to water, and which should lead to the immediate suspension and annulment of these type of water-use concessions.
We demand the immediate withdrawal of armed forces, military and paramilitary, from the zones in conflict, as well as the investigation, identification and punishment of those committing violations of human rights.
We demand the immediate dropping of charges and judicial processes initiated against community leaders.
That truly participative community decision-making mechanisms be implemented for oversight and decision-making regarding the policies and programs involving communities.
We declare ourselves in rebellion and openly opposed to the theft and depredation committed the transnational mining firms. We call upon all the people and popular organizations of this country to unite in common struggle to stop this ecological, economic and social disaster, to defend life. In light of what we have stated, we constitute ourselves as a coalition of organizations and communities:
The COORDINATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF LIFE AND NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY
We exhort all peoples and communities to join and participate in the following political and organizational strategies to:
* Build networks of communities affected by mining operations, in alliance with other sectors and social organizations, maintaining our mobilization permanently in defense of the proposed objectives.
* Utilize mechanisms of political pressure so that local and national governments give priority to the interests of the majority of the population over the interests of transnational mining companies. Promote the investigation of viable development alternatives at a local and regional level, with the support and counsel of universities and centers of technological development.
* Diffuse information in a wide-scale and systematic manner, to share experiences over the different forms and strategies of struggle regarding large-scale mining issues.
* Promote conceptions and effective practices of respect of nature, cultural diversity and human rights, to be worked and carried out in formal and non-formal forms of education.
* Carry out educational campaigns to increase consciousness of communities regarding the impacts of the mining industry, globalization in general and the relation of these phenomena to their own situations.
24-27 January, 2007 COORDINATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF LIFE AND NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY