Blog Entry

Persecution of Indigenous Leaders Persists in Ecuador

Jen Moore

Latin America Program Coordinator / Coordinadora del programa para América Latina, 2010-2018.

With deep concern, we share the following statement from the Ecumenical Human Rights Commission of Ecuador (CEDHU its initials in Spanish) denouncing the arrest of a Shuar Indigenous leader in southeastern Ecuador. This is part of an ongoing campaign of militarization, criminalization and forced displacement of the Shuar people and affected campesino communities in order to proceed with a large scale, open-pit copper and gold project without consent, which we first denounced in December.

The company involved, 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.

It is also important to note that the Canadian Embassy in Ecuador worked with Canadian companies, such as Corriente Resources, to lobby against the implementation of a constitutional decree, known as the 2008 Mining Mandate, which remains in effect and which should have led to the cancellation of the mining concessions associated with this project.

The Quito-based collective Minka Urbana has produced a short video that is subtitled in English and French illustrating the situation that the Shuar and affected campesino communities are facing.  

Vice President of Interprovincial Shuar Federation Detained

February 21, 2017

Source: Ecumenical Human Rights Commission of Ecuador (CEDHU its initials in Spanish)

On Tuesday, at approximately 11:40am, Claudio Washikiat, Vice President of the Interprovincial Federation of Shuar Centres (FISCH) was detained together with another citizen whose name is not yet known. The two were reportedly detained in the town of Sucúa, outside of the FISCH office in the province of Morona Santiago, and taken to the city of Gualaquiza for a hearing where they would learn what charges they are facing.   

Despite an end to a two-month long State of Exception (the imposition of martial law) in the province on February 15th, the national government has continued to repress and persecute Shuar leadership. This is yet another detention among others who have already been detained and subjected to legal processes in an attempt to hold them responsible for state-provoked violence in this territory, including the President of the FISCH Agustín Wachapá who has been jailed in the regional prison in Latacunga in the central highlands.

While media attention in Ecuador is focused on the elections waiting on the final results (of the national elections on Sunday), we denounce the national government for continuing to persecute human rights defenders opposed to mining and the militarization of Indigenous territories and campesino communities. To date, this has meant the forced displacement of two Shuar communities, Nankints and Tsuntsuim, to benefit the mining activities of ExplorCobres S.A. (EXSA), subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan Investment.

It is important to recall that this company has not undertaken prior consultation in Indigenous territories, that it does not have social legitimacy with affected Indigenous and campesino communities, and does not comply with the 2008 Mining Mandate on which basis its mining concessions should have been canceled, including for the overlap with water supplies and for having title to more than three concessions.

We hold the Ecuadorian state responsible for the physical integrity of Claudio Washikiat and the other person who was detained. We also denounce the irregularities in the process of detention of Indigenous leaders who are defending their territorial rights.