Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ecuador Anti-Mining March Heading Into Homestretch

In Ecuador several hundred demonstrators are nearing the end of their two-week march to protest against government-backed large-scale mining projects. Demonstrators, such as members of Ecuador's main indigenous organization (CONAI), alleged that the new mining would displace entire communities and cause deep environmental damage.

The march began on March 8th, days after President Rafael Correa signed a deal for the $400 million investment in a copper mining project near El Pangui. He has claimed that the project will help bring much-needed development for the region and that the marchers have the “aim of destabilizing” the government.

The protest is expected to finish on World Water Day, which is not a coincidence since critics against the planned project worry that water supplies could become contaminated. According to a report from the informatEcuador website (and translated via Global Voices):
The mining zone for this project is located exactly on one of the main water sources for the city of Cuenca and many other towns. Many inhabitants of these towns are protesting against this activity with very good reason.
The vice president of CONAI said that at least 20,000 demonstrators are expected to converge on Thursday in Quito.

It remains to be seen if the "March for water, life and the dignity of the people" will lead to policy changes. Yet the debate over water usage and control that has affected parts of Latin America in the past will likely continue to be a controversial issue.

Video Source – YouTube via TeleamazonasEC

Online Sources- The Nation, CRE, Global Voices Online, Reuters, BBC News

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