MAC/20: Mines and Communities

ECUADOR

Published by MAC on 2006-07-18

ECUADOR

Support Anti-Mining Protesters / Ecuador

Global Response

18th July 2006

To: Members of Global Response's "Quick Response Network,"

This week, an estimated 700 people from a remote cloud forest region of Ecuador carried their anti-mining protests to Quito, the capital city.

They are asking citizens around the world to defend their rights and help them prevent the relocation of several communities and the destruction of a cloud forest region known for its biological diversity. Please support them at this crucial time by writing to the president of Ecuador today (see the model letter below).

The rural Intag communities have been resisting copper mining initiatives in their region since 1996, and Global Response has supported them with many rounds of letters since that time. Our first success came in 1997, when local and international opposition forced the Bishimetals mining company to withdraw from Intag.

Now the residents of Intag are battling for the life of their community against a Canadian company, Ascendant Copper Corporation. County governments in the region have passed laws prohibiting mining and other environmentally destructive industries, and thousands of people have engaged in protests, but Ascendant remains, with the acquiescence of the federal government. Community life has degenerated into violence, threats, fears and accusations so serious that a group of International Observers released a report this week stating, "we have observed a rapid escalation of paramilitarization in the area. We believe that there is the possibility for dangerous encounters, with the potential for violence or death in the following days."

In spite of these fears, around 700 women, men and children from Intag traveled to Quito on July 13, filled one of the main streets with their colorful signs and shouted anti-mining slogans. A participant wrote:

"The crowd demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Energy and Mines until the Minister accepted to meet with a delegation composed of Cotacachi's Mayor, presidents of the Local Parrish governments of Intag, and community activist Polibio Perez. The Minister pretty much accepted that Ascendant will have to go, in that he promised to strictly abide by the law, and said that if he discovered any illegalities, the company's concessions will be revoked. Since there's no doubt at all there are illegalities, in one month we should see an Intag free of Ascendant! The crowd also delivered a letter to the Ministry of the Environment urging them to take action to protect the area's forests and threatened wildlife imperiled by the project. Later, we continued to the office of Ascendant Copper, where the crowd continued their protest, and glued large red "Shut Down for Violating Community Signs" across the main entrances to the building and some windows. There were no arrests, and the crowd was at all times peaceful."

This is a crucial moment, when international support can tip the scales for justice and environmental protection in Intag. Please write your own letter, or send this model letter to the president of Ecuador today!

For more information and photos, see

http://www.decoin.org

MODEL LETTER:
Doctor Alfredo Palacio
Constitutional President
Republic of Ecuador
Plaza de la Independencia,
Quito, Ecuador

Re: Junín Mining Project (Ascendant Copper Corporation): Concern over Human Rights Situation

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing in support of Ecuadorian citizens of the Intag region who oppose copper mining in this area of extraordinary ecological value. As you know, hundreds of people from Intag travelled to Quito on July 13 and demonstrated for their human rights and their environment. In their meeting with the Minister of Energy and Mines, the Minister assured them that your administration would strictly abide by the law. The Minister said if any illegalities in the activities of Ascendant Copper Corporation are discovered, the company's concessions will be revoked.

I am concerned with threats posed by the Ascendant project to the human rights to food, water, housing and health, as well as the safety of those defending these rights in the Intag region. I am also concerned that decisions by democratically elected local and regional bodies are undermined by the actions of the company.

I urge your government to investigate the denunciations coming from the Intag area, its residents, and some of the Quito-based human rights groups regarding possible human rights violations of the company and its contractors, including Daimi Services. I also ask you, given the opposition of the democratically elected local and regional bodies to the mining project, to consider the revocation of any licences awarded to the company (in May of 2006, all of Intag's local governments publicly asked the company to leave). And I ask you to determine whether Ascendant Copper and the Ecuadorian government are complying fully with international treaties signed by Ecuador, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Thank you in advance for taking action to protect all human rights (civil, cultural, economic, political, social) as well as environmental rights in the Intag area. Please inform me about any action you have taken in this regard.

Sincerely,

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