Rafael Correa

Two killed during protests against water laws in Ecuador.

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Ecuador is currently seeing another indigenous uprising in response to the proposed Law of Water (amongst others). Yesterday, a group indigenous protesters (mainly from the Shuar nation) in the Amazon were shot at from a helicopter, leaving two dead and nine other wounded.

colonos is replicating here briefly a statement of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and providing some links to further sources.

The proposed Law of Water is said to be in violation of the Ecuadorian Constitution, which prohibits all forms of privatisation of water. The law would allow for privatisation of water through the back door and prioritise needs of big developments (hydropower and mining) over those of the people. Moreover, in its article 43 it allows for the use of the Armed Forces in situations of protest and conflict around water use (such as when people would protest the diversion of community water for use in mining).
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Rafael Correa: A Flattering Mini-Bio

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This is a rather flattering, brief, misleading look at Rafael Correa’s public life and his rise to political power in Ecuador, which, once again, positions him as  “radical, single-minded” (sometimes called a “socialist”) and which, once again, ignores his dubious environmental politics. Readers of colonos will know better. It has been pasted from openDemocracy.

Rafael Correa: an Ecuadorian journey

The impressive political rise of Ecuador’s economist-turned-president is about to face its greatest test so far, says Guy Hedgecoe.

Rafael Correa’s landslide election victory on 27 April 2009 makes him the first candidate since Ecuador’s return to democracy in 1979 to win a presidential vote outright in the first round. With the opposition divided and the resounding vote confirming his already formidable control of the Andean country, this left-leaning nationalist is the most dominant figure Ecuadorian politics has seen for decades.

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ETC Group: Terminating Food Sovereignty in Ecuador?

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colonos is here reproducing a news release from the ETC Group. President Rafael Correa has proposed several changes to the Law on Food Sovereignty which dangerously weaken the legislation and open the door to Terminator seeds.

ETC Group
News Release
April 17, 2009
www.etcgroup.org

Terminating Food Sovereignty in Ecuador?
President opens door to Terminator seeds

On February 18, 2009, the Ecuadorian Congress approved a new Law on Food Sovereignty, which, among other important points, declared the country “free of transgenic crops and seeds.” However, in spite of vocal popular opposition, the legislation left the door open to approvals of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in “exceptional”
cases. Now, President Rafael Correa has proposed several changes to the legislation – in what is known in Ecuador as a partial-veto – and sent it back to the Congress. The president’s changes dangerously weaken the law and open the door to Terminator seeds.

Terminator technology is designed to make “suicide seeds,” genetically engineered to be sterile in the second generation. The technology has been widely rejected around the world by farmers’ movements, governments, research institutions and UN agencies as dangerous, immoral and undesirable.

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Indigenous Mobilisation for Life – CONAIE Communiqués

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colonos is here reproducing two CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) updates in Spanish on the ongoing “mobilisation for life” which has brought thousands of indigenous activists, peasants and their allies onto the streets, walking from all over the country to the capital, Quito, in protest against the new Mining Law. As was to be expected, the demonstrations have been violently repressed, and at least four people, including a journalist, have been arrested in the North of Ecuador where clashes are said to have been most aggressive.

Please see the preceding post in this blog for an action alert.
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Mining Action Alert

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Action Alert: Ask the Ecuadorian Government to Protect Human Rights During Upcoming Anti-Mining Demonstrations

The Ecuador Solidarity Network, an organization based in Canada and the United States, is joining human rights and indigenous peoples organizations in calling on President Rafael Correa to respect human rights during nation wide protests against large-scale mining that will begin on Monday January 19th.

The protests will spread from the Amazon and reach Quito, Ecuador’s capital, on January 20th. Anti-mining protests earlier this month were met with police violence in the Southern provinces of Azuay, Loja, Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago. A number of activists were beaten and detained, and one leader was critically injured after being shot in the head.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and a number of farmer and environmental organizations are protesting against the recent approval of a mining law by Congress, opening the country to large-scale metal mining. Canadian mining companies would benefit from many of the concessions. The CONAIE and other organizations contend that the new law will allow large-scale mining in protected areas and contaminate critical community water supplies. The CONAIE is also protesting against government plans to drill for oil in the Yasuni National Park, the rainforest home of two indigenous communities in voluntary isolation.

Following recent statements from the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH) and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), the Ecuador Solidarity Network calls on activists around the world to support the human rights of protesters demonstrating against large-scale metal mining in Ecuador. The CONAIE emphasizes that the demonstrations will be peaceful and calls on President Correa to not use police or military forces against protesters.

E-mail President Rafael Correa and President of Congress Fernando Cordero and ask that the government take preventative action to ensure that protesters’ human rights are respected. We also denounce any attempt by right-wing organizations in the U.S. or Canada to opportunistically use the upcoming mobilizations to attack President Correa for motives that have nothing to do with indigenous rights or environmental protection.

Please send emails to:

Presidencia de la República, Presidente Rafael Correa:

presidencia @ presidencia . gov . ec

Presidencia Legislativa, Presidente de la Comision Legislativa y de Fiscalizacion, Fernando Cordero Cueva:

presidencia @ asambleaconstituyente . gov . ec

Please send a carbon copy of the messages to

ecuadorsolidarity @ gmail . com

Media Contacts:

Ecuador: Jennifer Moore, Ecuador Solidarity Network (593) 8-877-8928 / jenmoore0901 @ gmail . com

Canada: Jamie Kneen, Mining Watch (613) 761-2273

Correa’s Idiosyncracies, Ecuador’s Collectivities & Pachamama at Winter Solstice

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There has been a lot of talk around the world and colonos even get emails from students studying the “very interesting environmental aspect” of the new Ecuadorian Constitution, which gives (human rights-like) rights to Pachamama, which is an Andean (and in some part of the Amazon) term for Mother Earth. (It is derived from Aymara and Quechua.)

Inside Ecuador, however, there is a growing resistance to the project of Correa’s government, largely due to a lack of environmental sensitivity as perceived by the social movements – the environment is systematically subordinated to capital interest – and a lacking recognition of collective rights. Indeed, the new constitution stresses the sacred nature of private property, as has previously been quoted in a post in this blog about the ways in which the constitution was presented in a misleading (half arsed) manner by The Guardian (which should be an autogenerated links below if we’re lucky!?).

In other words, there is a large discrepancy between how foreigners, especially opportunist socialists and social-democracts, perceive and, importantly, choose to represent the politrix of Rafael Correa and his government and how social movements, from peasants through urban anarchists to the people of Amazonia, perceive and resist the programmes of Correa.

As noted again and again – central to much of the criticism we’ve been on about all along – the new constitution also weds Ecuador to the IIRSA project, which is a World Bank project for the integration of infrastructures in Latin America to make it easier for global capitalism to move resources (out), goods (in), labour (around) and people (out if they complain) for the purposes of profit maximisation, asphaltation, bridge building hysteria and river way raping. The Ecuadorian part of IIRSA is first and foremost the Manta-Manaus/Manaos corridor or node in the IIRSA network of commodity trails that threaten to severely further disfigure the Andes and put an end to the world’s largest rain forest, the Amazon or Amazonia.

Anyway, there are a few current articles that make for interesting reading to keep up to date on the Ecuadorian developments, led by the idiosyncratic Correa:

According to several current and former officials, Correa often makes impulsive decisions in isolation and is reluctant to listen to dissenting views.

“This government is all about Correa and he has closed all space for debate, leading many of us no choice but to leave,” said a close ally who still supports Correa but quit a top post over policy disagreements. “He is ending up alone surrounded only by people who tells him what he wants to hear.“”

Another article deals with financial issues, such as dollarization and the price of oil and how it all hangs together from the perspective of (wanker) financial science:

“Ecuador needs an oil price of $95 to cover all the spending in its budget, according to Barclays. The government had a surplus of $508 million in the first half of the year, Correa said Sept. 20.

“Correa’s only choice for growing the economy is the public sector,” said Bernal at Bulltick. “The lower the price of oil goes, the more the need for Correa to deliver on the fiscal front. Ecuadoreans will only live with Correa as long as they have expectations of growth.”

Then a really useful overview of things provided by an uncommon bed fellow of colonos, Socialist Worker:

“A MORE serious conflict is developing over government environmental policies that benefit mining companies. To crack down on anti-mining protests, Correa has ordered the use of brutal military force, a move bitterly condemned by the social movements.

Even Correa own coalition, Alianza País, is having internal contradictions. Recently, he issued a warning by declaring that he will dissolve the party if more internal infighting continues. He also took the opportunity to define his political project as “an ideological project of the nationalist left.”

But Correa’s nationalism is in opposition to indigenous people’s conception of their own nation, one that stretches across national boundaries from the Amazon to the Andean region. To the extent that indigenous people assert their historic claims to their lands, they are seen as a political threat by both multinational corporations and Correa.

The stakes in this conflict were raised on October 12–Columbus Day, traditionally seen as day of resistance by the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In neighboring Colombia, indigenous groups staged a levantamiento (uprising) to protest government repression and demand more cultural and political rights. The uprising in Colombia inspired indigenous people and their allies throughout the region–including in Ecuador.”

There is also a short piece on Plan Colombia, which is part of the War on Drugs by the Evil Empire and therefore, one might hope, will face some sort of reforms under Obama bin Ltd., and, then, finally some sort of list by Reuter’s, who as usual has been pasting capitalistic-financial propaganda about all the horrible and out of order things anyone left of Henry Kissinger might dare to think or, God help it, act. Just read it in the inverse, as it were :)

Happy Winter Solstice!

winter_solstice

The revolutionary struggle and social reform in Ecuador: an anarchist perspective

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This a reposting of an interview with a comrade from the Grupo Anarco-Comunista “15 de Noviembre” (originally in Castellano)

The following interview was made in July and August 2008 with a member of the “15th November” Anarchist Communist Group, a recently-formed libertarian group in Ecuador, which among other things publishes the magazine “Chasqui Anarquista” with other anarchists, of which two issues have so far come out. In this interview, we tried to find out a little about the origins of the libertarian movement in Ecuador and understand how anarchist communists feel about the social reforms being carried out by Rafael Correa’s government.

The revolutionary struggle and social reform in Ecuador:
An interview with a comrade from the Grupo Anarco-Comunista “15 de Noviembre”

To begin with, comrades, can you tell us about the 15th November Group and how it was formed?

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Correa condemns the people to suffering and the climate to change

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Here is an article in English that mentions some of the sources referred to by colonos when noting that Rafael Correa don’t give a toss about the indigenous people and campesinos whose self-described saviour he likes to present himself as in the global media’s corporate eye – something which he to quite some extent share with his Bolivian partner in populistic crime, Evo aMoralas, who:

“…rejected oil and gas expropriation, supports Big Oil interests, and embraced business as usual policies. Under nationalizations Morales-style, current contractual arrangements are effectively intact, and the country’s mineral resources have been sold off to the greatest ever number of foreign investors.

In addition, Morales broke his promise to triple the painfully low minimum wage, increased it 10% instead, and maintained previous neoliberal fiscal austerity and economic stability policies. He also tolerates the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s intrusive presence and the Pentagon’s Chapare military base; appointed hard right economic, defense and other ministers; opposed agrarian reform; supports large landowners; provides them large subsidies and tax incentives; and backs the Confederation of Private Businessmen in Bolivia by promoting foreign investment, social spending cuts, prioritization of exports, and other pro-business policies above the interests of the people who elected him. Petras says Morales “excels in public theater” by combining “political demagogy” to his base while backing neoliberal IMF austerity and business-friendly policies”. (Read more about forgotten promises here.)

We’re much too busy to translate, sooo many documents floating about these days, so here goes from Upsidedownworld.org, beginning with a highlight:

According to the CONAIE declaration, “We reject President Rafael Correa´s racist, authoritarian and antidemocratic statements, which violate the rights of [Indigenous] nationalities and peoples enshrined in international conventions and treaties. This constitutes an attack against the construction of a plurinational and intercultural democracy in Ecuador. Correa has assumed the traditional neoliberal posture of the rightist oligarchy.

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UNASURrender to global capitalism

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Rafael Correa is the poster boy of neo-socialism – he wears Quechua shirts and bathes himself in the limelight of indigeous peoples’ struggle in the global media, makes promises to the poor and the illiterate (and also delivers on some of his promises) – but more than anything he is increasingly despised by the indigenous peoples and the campesinos “who mean nothing to him” and who he represses violently if they organise against the foreign companies that Correa contracts their land away to. Also known in international socialist and even environmental circles as the saviour of the Yasuni national park. But nothing could be further from the truth – as has been reported by the colonos blog since before Correa entered office.

I have just returned from a meeting where yachaks (shamans) from various regions of “el Oriente” (basically the Ecuadorian Amazon) have gathered all weekend to discuss, among other things, Correa’s rejection in the constituent assembly processes of collective rights and a range of specific demands made by the indigenous movements as part of the rewriting of the Ecuadorian constitution. Talks are of strikes and some suggest that another uprising is brewing – at any rate Rafael Correa is very unpopular with indigenous people and campesinos, because he arrogantly have stated that he cares not about their demands since “they only constitute a few percent of his voters“.

So what does Mr. Correa care about – well, like the Clintons he seems mostly fascinated by inscribing himself into the white man’s history of conquest of the world through an industrial economy that is essentially based on exploitation of labour and pachamama (mother earth).

Unasur to boost financial self-sufficiency in S America:

BRASILIA, May 23 (Xinhua) — Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said here Friday that the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) will boost programs to help realize financial self-sufficiency in the region.

After signing the bloc’s constitutive agreement in the Brazilian capital, Correa said it was “a historical day for South America, which brings great expectation and hope.”

“We can do like the European Union (EU). As the EU has to explain why they united, we will have to explain to our children and grandchildren why we took so long to do it,” he told a press conference.”

Correa’s vision and that of UNASUR is about entrance into an economy that many ever since its inception – with the conquest of new worlds and the industrial production apparatus that makes wars for more profit possible – have been fighting. And for quite some years it has been quite clear that it is a very unsustainable economy that the planet cannot sustain.

Of course it is the rich and the powerful who mostly have to change their wasteful ways, but to happily join that horrible economy that Correa is so blinded by and which accelerates climate change and destroys civilization is plain stupid. However, the middle classes who get better roads (this, the year where it seems like we have to take drastic measure and actions to counter climate change, is the year of asphalt in Ecuador), nicer cars to drive them on and bigger supermarkets to park them by and shop in, and of course the capitalists that exploit the natural resources that he so happily gives to foreign and private interests are laughing all the way to the bank while the earth cries.

The rest of the chinese article follows.

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Corridors of destruction and other neo-socialist “progress”

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Six months before the colonos blog came into being the article below – here translated into English – was written in Castellano. It is about what we have been labelling corridors (or interoceanic corridors) or the Manta-Manaus commodity highway. In this article a much more comprehensive perspective is offered – and shows how big, concerted and damaging to the continent and the rest of the world that this global capitalist project is.

Get the whole article in .pdf format.

Re-mapping Latin America’s Future

IIRSA: Integration Custom-Made for International Markets (#1)

Raúl Zibechi | June 13, 2006

Translated from: IIRSA: la integración a la medida de los mercados
Translated by: Nick Henry

Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)

The project for Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA, by its initials in Spanish), is swiftly but silently moving forward. IIRSA is the most ambitious and encompassing plan to integrate the region for international trade. If completed in full, the project would connect zones containing natural resources (natural gas, water, oil, biodiversity) with metropolitan areas, and both of these with the world’s largest markets.

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Marlon Santi on Correa’s government and the Constituent Assembly

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Interview with Marlon Santi, New President of Ecuador’s Indigenous Confederation
Written by Patricio Zhingri T.
Thursday, 17 January 2008

And so it goes, that history repeats itself and the day after the revolution anyone is a conservative, I think Hannah Arendt once wrote. The morning after in Ecuador – after the floods – and we know which way the wind blows. For that we don’t need a weather man.

Here is, however, what CONAIE’s new president, Marlon Santi, reckons about the Correan revolution and the reconstructive Constituent Assembly – well no news there, really, it is business as usual:

“PZT: As the new president of CONAIE, how would you evaluate the first year of this government?

MS: Proposals from the Indigenous movement and other social sectors from the coast, highlands, and Amazon are not present on the national government’s political agenda. Nor are they on the agenda of the Constituent Assembly. The government says a lot and they say that they are going to open petroleum explorations, that they are going to privatize water, rivers, páramos (high communal grasslands). Nothing has changed. The only change is when the Indigenous movement rises up, because even in light of this we have made some advances in Collective Rights and other demands. Rafael Correa has not recognized the demands of Indigenous nationalities and peoples, and he should do so.

PZT: How will the government of Indigenous Nationalities and Peoples act with the current government of Correa?

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More repression in Ecuador..

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When Rafael Correa came into government he soon announced that he was investing more powers in the police and the military to repress popular protests, which is one of the main means of political expression for many largely illterate indigenous and campesino communities; and those powers are “well” used, Upside Down World writes:

The peaceful demonstration began at 5am was met with state repression around noon, leading to the arrest of 17 protestors, which include the parish priest of Victoria del Portete, dairy farmers, and University of Cuenca students. Approximately 80 soldiers blasted tear gas into to the crowd of protestors— around 300 strong. Female students report that they were later taken to a casino for police and forced to undress.
“We are here to defend the right to pure and clean water,” declared Miriam Chuchuka, a 36-year-old dairy farmer from Victoria del Portete. Small farmers fear that cyanide and mercury related to gold mining and production will pollute local water sources.

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Current political crisis in Latin America: Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela.

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There has been many news reports – often tied to the terms “terrorism” and “weapons of mass destruction” (dirty bomb, for instance), does that ring any bells? The issue is basically that:
Colombia’s commando raid into Ecuadorean territory Saturday killed rebel leader Raul Reyes and 22 other guerrilla fighters, who had crossed the border to hide from the Colombian military.

Correa and Chavez are gesturing and posing, moving troops to the border with Colombia, and condemning the attack in which several laptops belonging to FARC were seized from rebels shot dead in their sleep, on Ecuadorian soil, that contained details of relations to Ecuador and Venezuela. That makes it possible for the war on terror coalition of the willing to lump Ecuador and Venezuela together with Iran and FARC with Al-Qaeda; and, then, all that is needed is a paragraph circulating with the words “weapons of mass destruction” before the whole world knows that we are talking about “the evil ones”.

“Ahmadinejad and Chavez have called themselves the “Axis of Unity.” Some security experts call them something else: a potential threat to American security.”

But who is who and what’s the history?

Consider first the credentials of the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, who is accusing Ecuador and Venezuela of aiding terrorists and drug dealers:

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Abducting and torturing: Carrying out the orders of Rafael Correa?

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This is a shocking story – if it is not an ultra right wing conspiracy to discredit Correa it ought to be the end of any support for the Correan experiment:

Via Ukhamawa noticias/23 February 2008

“The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador CONAIE announces its objection, before the country, public opinion, international agencies, and the media, to the abduction, and psychological and verbal assault committed against Compañera Miriam Cisneros 28 years, spouse of President Marlon Santi.

While Compañera Miriam was prepapring to travel to Puyo, she was intercepted by two men in civilian clothes at approximately 4:30 pm, Friday 22 Febryuary, 2008, and immediately carried in a van heading south of Quito, where she was repeatedly interrogated with 5 questions:

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Correa threatens to resign

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If the Ecuadorian president won’t get his way with regard to the recent protests, repression and arrests in the province of Orellana, he will resign. At least he threatened to do so a couple of days ago.

On December 7, relatives of the 22 arrested during the recent raid of community-in-protest Dayuma made their way to Montecristi on the other side of the Andes where the Constituent Assembly is currently meeting to rewrite the constitution. They plead to release the detained and lift the state of emergency in Orellana.

President Rafael Correa stated the next day on the radio that the detained would have to face charges of “sedition” – terrorism and sabotage. He declared furthermore that should the Constituent Assembly decide to grant the prisoners amnesty, he would resign.

That much for blackmail.