An Open Letter to His Excellency Dr. Rafael Correa Delgado
President of the Republic of Ecuador
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Garcia Moreno 1043 Quito, Ecuador
Minister of the Environment
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Minister of the Interior
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RE: Acción Ecológica and the Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador
Dear President Correa,
The Indigenous Environmental Network, its members and affiliates, strenuously protest Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Internal Security’s request that the Minister of Environment close or annul the highly respected Acción Ecologica and terminate its right to operate legally in Ecuador. Ironically, or cynically, the Vice Minister’s actions apparently were prompted precisely because Acción Ecológica was complying with its charter to defend the environment, the rights of Mother Earth and the human and indigenous rights of Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador.
Several years ago I was invited by your government to attend an international event in Quito. I gladly went, knowing that Ecuador recognizes Indigenous languages as official languages of the country and that the Rights of Nature and Mother Earth are consecrated in the legal framework. These facts and the commitment to living in harmony with nature, or “buen vivir” inspired my solidarity. But now, those who defend the Rights of Mother Earth and buen vivir are somehow seen as a threat by the Minister of Internal Security. Worse, Indigenous peoples now directly suffer violations of their individual and collective rights. We cite your granting of oil concessions in the indigenous peoples’ territories in the Ecuadorian Amazon, including in the Yasuni National Park, one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically significant places on Earth and home to indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation. We are also informed of military and police intimidation of Indigenous Peoples who oppose oil and mineral extraction on their lands and territories.
We are equally dismayed that the Ecuadoran government allowed Explorcobres SA to begin a mega-mining project in Indigenous Shuar territory without the communities’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent. We have been informed of your government’s forced relocation of the Shuar Nankints community in the Morona Santiago province in order to install a mining camp for this Chinese company.
These severe and apparently unconstitutional actions by your government are recent examples of the violations of human rights including indigenous rights by Ecuadoran agencies. It is clear to us that the threatened action against Acción Ecológica is retaliation for their defense of the environment, the rights of nature and of the collective rights of indigenous peoples.
We urge you to recall and annul the Minister of Internal Security’s request to revoke Acción Ecológica’s legal charter. We also urge you, in most urgent terms to cease military and police actions and intimidations against indigenous Peoples in Ecuador and unwanted exploitation on their lands and territories.
Indigenous Peoples, particularly in Ecuador, have a right to live Ecuador’s promise of “buen vivir”. They also have a right to legal assistance if this and other rights are violated or threatened. As President,you are entrusted with the responsibility to protect the wellbeing of all Ecuadorans, including indigenous peoples and their allies. I call upon you to do so.
Mitakuye Owasin, We are all related
Tom B. Goldtooth
Indigenous Environmental Network
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