May 11, 2010
Hundreds of Ecuadorian natives blocked on Monday several highways to protest against the Water Law being discussed at the National Assembly.
President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) Marlon Santi said the blocking began on Monday in many zones, mainly in the Andean mountain range, the provinces of Azuay, Canar and Tungurahua. The CONAIE, which is one of the most important organizations in the country, said the protest will not end until Tuesday.
However, the government said it will not allow the blocking of highways or any disturbance of the public order.
The police have "the obligation to safeguard the rights of the Ecuadorian people to move around the country with freedom", and if the native groups want to block roads, the police will take measures to stop it, Ecuadorian Interior Minister Gustavo Jalkh said.
Commander-in-Chief of the Police, General Freddy Martinez said the police have the obligation of "avoiding any movement against the people's security" and it will make efforts to maintain the order of the country.
The Ecuadorian natives are worried about the bill that allows the privatization of water resources and gives private companies, mainly the mining ones, a privilege to use the water. They consider it a violation of their ancestral rights on the management of the water.
However, the government has rejected all those accusations.