Urgent Action Appeal: Government responds harshly to indigenous communities on water issue (Ecuador)


The government is responding with repression towards the indigenous Plurinational Mobilization and is neglecting to incorporate proposals from organizations for the Water Law project.

The situation in Ecuador requires us to put our foot down in support of our indigenous brothers in the struggle for the defense of life and the implementation of an authentic plurinationality.  The debate over the Water Law is the catalyst for conflict as the government of Rafael Correa persists in maintaining a neoliberal extractivist model in direct contradiction to its own constitution which proclaims the principles a plurinational state and “El Buen Vivir” or “The Good Life.”

The massive National Mobilization for the Defense of Water, Life, and Food Sovereignty was brutally repressed last night in front of the National Assembly.  Leaders have been detained in the province of Azuay(Cuenca).  One of those leaders, Carlos Perez, was beaten by the police and is accused of terrorism and sabotage.  However, the repression could not stop the indigenous mobilization which has rallied at the headquarters of the National Assembly in Quito while continuing its marches and highway blockades in the rest of the country.  One group of leaders including Marlon Santi, president of CONAIE and Delfin Tenesaca, president of ECUARUNARI, managed to enter the National Assembly and are expected to be expelled at any moment.

The indigenous proposals against the Water Law were presented with sufficient time but the organizations (CONAIE and its regional chapters, in particular ECUARUNARI) that joined in dialogue with the government were not heard.  The government of Rafael Correa, despite his speeches, seems increasingly like the governments of its neighbors Colombia and Peru where neoliberal policies are imposed and protest is repressed and criminalized.

The Constitution of Ecuador, as well as proclaiming the principles of a plurinational state and “The Good Life,” specifically establishes water as a human right and requires that its management remain public and within the community.  However, the project that was debated by the National Assembly insists on concentrating the management in only one sector instead of accepting the proposal of indigenous organizations to create a Single Water Authority of plurinational and multicultural character, a proposal which was reiterated yesterday in front of the Assembly by Delfin Tenesaca, president of ECUARUNARI.

Additionally, the project does not guarantee the redistribution of the water concentrated in the hands of large landowners and as such, this water continues to be privatized.  Neither does the project prioritize water use for agriculture nor establish a minimum rate that ensures water reaches all Ecuadorians.

What the indigenous organizations are demanding is compliance with the Constitution in an effort to truly construct a plurinational state and “The Good Life.”  They demand that the management of natural resources be in the hands of all sectors, without exception.  They demand that the government respects life.  While indigenous peoples are constructing a plurinational state and “The Good Life,” the government and its assembly members insist on imposing standards that undermine its structures.

The struggle of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador is the struggle of all peoples of the world.  Just like in their country, the whole continent and many parts of the world, privatized concessions of water in the hands of few is provoking conflicts that will very soon explode one after another.  This is because water is not just a resource, it is the blood of Mother Earth, the source of life and all living beings – men and women, animals and plants – have the right of access to it and the duty of care for it.  What is being defended in Ecuador is life, the rights of Mother Earth and the declarations of its Constitution.

Today more than ever, our indigenous brothers and sisters of Ecuador and their organizations need our support.  We are calling on all indigenous peoples organizations and social movements in the region and around the world to express their solidarity through concrete actions:

  • Mobilize to confront Ecuadorian diplomatic missions in all countries
  • Issue statements in defense of life
  • Send letters of protest to President Rafael Correa (refer to the sample letter below)

What is at stake in Ecuador is the defense of life and to this, we are absolutely committed.

In solidarity,

Marcela Olivera
Coordinadora Latinoamericana/Latin American Coordinator
Water for All Campaign, Food and Water Watch
Email: molivera@fwwatch.org
Tel/Fax: +591-4-4504620
Casilla 1099

Cochabamba, Bolivia

web: www.foodandwaterwatch.org


To download the sampler letter, click here