This march, organised by both indigenous people and Ecuadorian social rights groups, was named ‘The March for Water, Life and Dignity’ because, first of all, mining threatens watersheds, notably in the south of the country, where most of the mining is set to take place. This march is also about life and dignity, because the indigenous populations run the risk of having to leave their lands.
The march was very difficult for the protesters. Local authorities along the way did all they could to stop them from reaching Quito. For example, those on foot were forbidden to walk through certain towns. Other activists who were heading to Quito by bus to join the rally were forced to stop outside the city and continue on foot.
This project is anti-constitutional, because the right to clean water and the protection of our ecosystem is written into our constitution. [Correa initially won support from indigenous people in large part by including the “Rights of Mother Nature” into the country’s constitution. This stipulates that citizens have a right to healthy and ecologically-balanced environments.] We’re determined to stop this project, because we’ve already seen what awful effects mines can have on the environment. Oil mining by Chevron
in the north of the country, which lasted for four decades, not only contaminated watersheds but also forced indigenous people to leave their lands. One tribe, the Tetetes
, has entirely disappeared. And it’s no coincidence that the cancer rate
in that area is much higher than the national average.
President Correo has promised that 10 percent of the revenue that comes from mining will go to help indigenous populations, but what is this money worth to a population if it has to leave its land? Those of us who stand with the indigenous people won’t let ourselves be intimidated by the government. We will fight this with all the legal means at our disposal, and will call for civil disobedience if necessary. In fact, civil disobedience is also protected by our constitution.