Acción Ecológica, one of Latin America’s most well-known environmental groups, had led the fight against Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa’s plans to expand the mining industry. While the group’s legal status remains up in the air, its more than 20 years of work has had a palpable influence on the country’s socio-environmental movement. The group was founded in 1986, when two Ecuadoran university groups joined forces: one made up of three women majoring in communications, and the other formed by several biologists making a documentary about ecological problems. The organization began by mounting campaigns against the problems associated with oil drilling and, in the 1990s, against the destruction of the manglares (coastal forests). By 1993, their educational and lobbying efforts had grown to include legal action against oil companies.
Dallas Goldtooth, Keep it in the Ground Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network said: “As a movement to stop this dirty Bakken oil pipeline, we are demonstrating the inherent power of organized communities and mobilized citizens. We are showing Big Oil and government leaders that we know the power of our capital, and as such we collectively choose to invest in life and water, not death and oil. As first peoples of the land and in defense of our Indigenous rights, we will continue to rise, resist, self-determine and divest until the Dakota Access pipeline is nothing but the defeated aspirations of a Energy Transfer Partners’ dream.”
On 18th December, Ecuador’s most prestigious environmental NGO, Acción Ecológica, called for a Peace & Truth Commission to explore the attacks on indigenous and environmental rights. Two days later, the Government announced its intention to close the NGO, which has been operating in Ecuador for 30 years and is largely responsible for the country’s modern environmental movement. This is not the first time that the Government has closed an organisation for disagreeing with its extractivist policies. In 2013, Fundación Pachamama was closed for opposing the auction of 2.6 million hectares of virgin jungle to oil companies.
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.
Ecuador became an even more difficult place to be a defender of indigenous rights and the environment. You would think a country with constitutionally-enshrined protections for Mother Nature would support and encourage indigenous and environmental rights defenders, but sadly that is not the case, and it has implications for the global climate change movement.
Letter from the Churches and Mining Network concerning the Shuar Community and the decision of the Ecuadorian Government to close down and dissolve Acción Ecológica. 21 December 2016 (Available in EN and ES)
Members of one of Latin America’s most well-known environmental organisations, Acción Ecológica, are fighting for their survival against a controversial attempt by Ecuador’s government to shut them down.
DENUNCIATION BY THE WOMEN’S AND FEMINIST MOVEMENTS OF ECUADOR OF SEXUAL AGGRESSION AS A STRATEGY OF THE POLITICAL CONTROL OF WOMEN : THE CASE OF ACCIÓN ECOLÓGICA
As organizations and collectives that make up the Ecuadorian women’s and feminist movement, in solidarity with defenders of human rights and of nature, we express our support to the comrade of Acción Ecológica who suffered a sexual attack, and we denounce this which we consider this act as retaliation politics. Indeed, there is clear evidence that it was a planned aggression aimed at punishing, intimidating, and intimidating other activists who appear publicly as leaders who resist the expropriation and exploitation of natural resources on land of Indigenous peoples or peasants of high biodiversity.
The Shuar community of Nankints in Ecuador’s Southern Amazon region was evicted in August 2016 to make way for a Chinese copper mega-mining project. The mining company, through a court order, has claimed these indigenous territories without prior consultation or consent from the affected communities, who have lived there for hundreds of years. The land allocated for the project covers over 41,000 hectares and the forced evacuation of other Shuar communities is expected.
According to the notification of the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of the Environment (MDI-VSI-2016-00033), this administrative decision, was taken [because Acción Ecológica] disseminated “the serious environmental impacts and ecosystem that would result from the extractive activity” in the Cordillera del Condor and for denouncing the violation of human rights of the communities living in this area. We must say that it is precisely these objectives for which Acción Ecológica was established, as stated in Article 2 of our statute: “Promote the defense of the rights of Nature in order to ensure the preservation of a healthy environment and achieve the rights of the Good Living, promoting integral respect. “
“The UN Expert got it right,” said Tom Goldtooth, the Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “What the US calls consultation is not consultation but a statement telling people what they’re doing after millions of dollars have been invested, painting Indigenous Peoples as spoilers. The right of free, prior and informed consent begins prior to the planning process, not when their bulldozers are at your doorstep.”
Open Letter to President Obama: Halt Construction and Repeal Permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline Project
We write to you because we are deeply concerned by the Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of Dakota Access LLC’s construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the impacts of which have been highlighted by the growing public opposition to this project. The Dakota Access Pipeline project would extend 1,168 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, crossing through communities, farms, tribal land, sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat.
The United States via the Army Corps of Engineers is in the mist of moving ahead with an oil pipeline that officials are claiming is not potentially harmful to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. I am here to advise anyone that will listen, that the Dakota Access Pipeline is harmful. It will not be just harmful to my people but its intent and construction will harm the water in the Missouri River, which is the only clean and safe river tributary left in the United States. We been told by the officials that there will be breaches in the pipe line but they claim the situations are generally never really bad. This is unacceptable. Our Mother Earth is sacred. All things evolve and work together. To poison the water, is to poison the substance of life. Everything that moves must have water. How can we talk about and knowingly poison water?
I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations, ask you to understand an Indigenous perspective on what has happened in America, what we call “Turtle Island.” My words seek to unite the global community through a message from our sacred ceremonies to unite spiritually, each in our own ways of beliefs in the Creator. We have been warned from ancient prophecies of these times we live in today, but have also been given a very important message about a solution to turn these terrible times. To understand the depth of this message you must recognize the importance of Sacred Sites and realize the interconnectedness of what is happening today, in reflection of the continued massacres that are occurring on other lands and our own Americas.
We, the Indigenous defenders of the land and water within the traditional treaty lands of the Oceti Sakowin, make an urgent appeal to the international community to assist us in facing a human rights crisis. Dakota Access is trying to put a crude oil pipeline under the Missouri River. This is a dire threat to the drinking water and future generations of the Oceti Sakowin who have lived here for generations.
On 31 May 2016, five men sat outside the home of Ms Gloria Ushigua throughout the night, in what appeared to be an act of intimidation against the human rights defender. Gloria Ushigua is an Indigenous human rights defender and has been the target of increasing levels of harassment over the past month, as a result of her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of environmental rights and of her ancestral land. This follows another act of intimidation against her niece on 26 May 2016 and the killing of the human rights defender’s sister-in-law, Anacleta Dahua Cují, on 2 May 2016.
Des Moines, IA – The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has revoked its approval of a construction permit for the Dakota Access pipeline through the Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area in Northeast Iowa. This permit is called the Sovereign Lands Construction Permit and was revoked because a significant Native American archaeological site was discovered along its proposed path. Due to the permit revocation, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has ordered that Dakota Access LLC stop all construction work for its Bakken oil pipeline until a survey of the area is conducted and consultation with local agencies and tribes is completed.