Ecuador police cracked down on protesters against the mine project At payment from the Palo Quemado region this Tuesday (26). Rural and indigenous workers are against the Daniel Noboa government’s initiative to grant the exploration of gold, copper, silver and zinc to the Canadian company Atico Mining.

Continues after advertising

According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), more than 500 police officers are in the region. According to the organization, they work with the support of helicopters and military teams.

The Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment attempted to carry out an environmental consultation to authorize the exploration of the mine. Popular movements in the region had taken a stand against the government’s action. The mayor of the city of Sigchos filed a protection action against the consultation and judge Darwin Paredes, from the state of Cotopaxi, ordered the temporary suspension of the government’s measure. He also asked the Ministry of Defense to withdraw troops in the region.

The Cotopaxi government published a statement stating that the police and military did not use firearms in repressing the movements. According to authorities, only tear gas was used to disperse the protesters. According to the government, three people were injured in the actions, but all injuries were the result of the use of homemade weapons by the protesters themselves.

The police action was justified by the head of the Armed Forces Joint Command, Jaime Vela, based on the state of exception signed by President Daniel Noboa. According to him, the country is subject to a measure that “limits the right to freedom of assembly, among other guarantees”. He also stated that there are groups there that could be “equipped with highly dangerous weapons”.

However, the state of exception was signed in January 2024 to combat the escalation of violence in the country following the death of Fernando Villavicencio, candidate in the 2023 elections, and a series of prison riots after Adolfo Macías Villamar, known as ” Fito”, leader of the criminal group Los Choneros, escaped from prison.

Vatican offers solidarity

The Vatican issued a statement, through the Panamazonian Episcopal Network, denouncing the situation of the Palos Quemados protesters. The organization says it is in favor of those “criminalized for exercising their right to raise their voice and defend peace and justice for families living in the villages of Palo Quemado and Las Pampas”.

“We stand in solidarity with those who suffer for justice and in defense of nature and their land”, states the statement.

The document also asks that the government “respect the lives and rights of the inhabitants” and “not impose the ambition of a few by force, mutilating the will of the majority of the population”.

Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *