The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ecuador Indigenous Groups Threaten More Radical Protests

By Mercedes Alvaro, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

QUITO -(Dow Jones)- Indigenous leaders in Ecuador's Amazon region threatened Thursday to carry out more radical protests, after the death of a member of the Shuar native group on Wednesday in a clash between police and protesters.

President Rafael Correa is facing the worst protests since he took office in 2007.

While Correa called for dialogue to end protests, indigenous leaders are accusing him of declaring a "civil war" against them.

Since Monday, indigenous people have blocked various roads, especially in the Amazon provinces of Morona Santiago and Pastaza, protesting against a proposed law regulating water. They are also protesting against mining and oil activity on their lands.

Natives had said that government policies threaten the collective rights to their territories, resources and self-determination, rights which they say are guaranteed in the Ecuadorian Constitution and under international law.

They say that the proposal for the new law regulating water use is a step toward privatization of water resources. The government has denied this possibility.

Lourdes Tiban, a member of the National Assembly for Pachakutik, the political arm of the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, told Dow Jones Newswires that she will call various government officials for questioning in the Assembly.

These include the ministers of government and internal security as well as the head of the national police.

Indigenous leaders said that if Correa wants to carry out a dialogue, he has go to the Amazon region where the clashes took place.

Correa said Thursday that the violence came from protesters and denounced that a Shuar-language radio station on Wednesday was calling people to go out with poisoned lances.

"I am making a call for peace," Correa said. "The fight is against poverty, not against our Ecuadorian brothers."

Media reports on Thursday showed indigenous groups in Macas, the capital of Morona Santiago, blocking roads between Morona Santiago and Pastaza.

Tito Puenchir, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, or Confeniae, said in a statement that this group was demanding that the Organization of American States and the United Nations intervene "to monitor and observe the blatant violations of the rights of indigenous peoples."

Confeniae is the Amazonian arm of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or Conaie, a group that played an important role in the overthrow of former Presidents Abdala Bucaram and Jamil Mahuad.

The environmental group Amazon Watch called on President Correa and government security forces "to show complete restraint in the use of force against its own civilian population who may be exercising their democratic rights to peaceful protest and dissent."

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