The Indians, most of them members of communal irrigation boards in the Andean provinces of Tungurahua and Cotopaxi, gathered before the building, where a police cordon prevented them from gaining direct access to it.
The demonstration was staged to protest the approval of a definitive report on the bill, which now will move to debate in the full Assembly and which, according to media accounts, does not include any of the proposals recently presented by the indigenous movement.
The demonstration on Wednesday is part of the ongoing mobilization announced by the indigenous movement in February and the process of “vigilance” being conducted with regard to several measures being promoted by the government of center-left President Rafael Correa.
Sources with the indigenous movement confirmed to Efe that a group of demonstrators received access to the Assembly to meet with the Food Sovereignty Committee, which is reviewing the bill.
The protest comes after one on April 8, when there were some minor scuffles because the Indians tried to gain access to the building by force.
Then, Assembly speaker Fernando Cordero authorized the entrance of a group of the demonstrators so that they could attend the debate in the section of the chamber reserved for the public and he decided to postpone the delivery of the definitive report to be able to take into account the requests of the Indians.
The indigenous movement fears that the bill will include articles that could allow a possible privatization of water, although this has been denied repeatedly by both the government and lawmakers.
Some leaders of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, or Conaie, the most important social organization in Ecuador, have warned that the protests will be increased gradually and they do not rule out a nationwide uprising against several government policies. EFE