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The town of Canton Limon Indanza and the entire province of Morona Santiago have been carrying out a long battle against the construction of an electric substation in the service of great mining exploitation that has been affecting the environment and the means of living of the population of the region.


 


Apart from attacks and intimidations by armed men on the payroll of building companies, the leaders of the mobilisations are suffering unfair prosecutions from the Rafael Correa administration: Ecuadorian justice has failed “preventive prison against comrades Franklin Reinoso Ruiz, Aida Astudillo Duran, Marco Ochoa Duran and the Town Councillor Tarquino Cajamarca Mariles” based on the false accusation of “sabotage” at a trial totally biased in favour of the building and mining companies, to which no witnesses for the accused were called to declare, If arrested, the comrades could spend anything between 3 and 5 years in prison, until the trial as a whole is over and then be convicted to several years more in prison. Tarquino Cajamarca Mariles is Councillor for Limon Indanza and, together with Aida Astudillo Duran, are members of MAS (Ecuadorian section of the IWL-FI)


 


In the face of such attack against the struggles of the Ecuadorian people we propose to start a strong international campaign among trade unions, social and political campaign to back the following demand:


We demand the sentence of Preventive Imprisonment against our comrades to be revoked and private mining and hydroelectric companies to be banned from the area for all they have caused is the rejection by the population to their authoritative and corrupt methods to force their own interests.


Letters are to be sent to the following e-addresses:


 


Ministro de Gobierno Gustavo Larrea: informacion@mingobierno.gov.ec 


 


Consejo Provincial de Morona Santiago: cpmorona@etapaonline.net.ec  


 


Ministerio de Minas y Petroleos (Ing. Jorge Alban Gomez): lbenalcazar@menergia.gov.ec 


 


Secretaria de Pueblos, Movimientos Sociales y Participacion Ciudadana( Sra. Manuela Gallegos): secretaria@secretariadepueblos.gov.ec 


 


Send a copy to: MAS: mas_ecuador@yahoo.com


 


What follows is a letter issued by the Canton Coordination of Limos Indanza and a report sent by the Ecuadorian MAS


 


COUNCILLOR AND CITIZENS OF CANTON LIMON INDANZA UNFAIRLY PERSECUTED FOR DEFENDING THE RIGHTS OF THE CITIZENS IN THE ENVIRONMENT.


 


2 800 000 hectares of the best land of Ecuador have been given away by the latest administrations to the mining multinationals, destroying the environment, health and peace of the population of the region.


 


The fighting resistance of the people and the workers against the mining companies have been growing lately. In the Province of Morona Santiago, canton Limon Indanza, NATIONAL COORDINATION FOR THE DEFENCE OF LIFE AND NATURE together with members of National Coordination, has been watching over and controlling the activities of the multinational mining companies. On 6th of March, the canton coordination organised a demonstration against SIPETROL and HIDROABANICO who had been building there a sub-station to reinforce the flow of electric energy required by the companies exclusively for the use of mining exploitation. These companies, in a most criminal manner, jeopardising the lives of the demonstrators, used paid toughs to produce a self-raid, blowing up with explosives part of the fittings so as to be able to blame the leaders of the march for TERRORISM AND SABOTAGE.


 


These companies, in complicity with the Fourth Prosecutor in Penal Cases of Mendez, Miguel Villamagua, during a previous inquiry, only took into consideration the versions of the workers and administrators of Sipetrol and Hidroaabanico and refused to listen to versions of the prosecuted and other citizens, in blatant breach of constitutional guarantees of A RIGHT TO FITTING TRIAL, Presumption of Innocence and the Right to Due Defence. To make things worse, the Prosecutor solicited Preventive Imprisonment against comrades Franklin Reinoso Ruiz, Aida Astudillo Duran, Marco Ochoa Duran and the Town Councillor Tarquino Cajamarca Mariles. In the same manner, Prosecuting Minister Rodrigo Eparza also solicits Preventive Imprisonment for the comrades without hearing the version of those unfairly prosecuted and refusing to let them declare in freedom in spite of all the insistence.


 


On the 6th July 2007, the three minister Judges of the Sole Hall of the High Court of Justice in Morona Santiago, ratify preventive imprisonment. The courtroom where the process continued for the resolution of the Preventive Measure, due to the fact that the comrades appealed from the unfair order of imprisonment, within case Number 02.2007, that SIPETROL posed for TERRORISM AND SABOTAGE. This is how a background of persecution of fighters and defenders of human rights has been set up through judicial mechanisms pretending to stifle the social protest by means if criminalisation of popular struggle and jeopardy of their lives, harassing and campaigns of slander and with full support from local authorities. This social protest has received massive support from the population, who have been taking active part in it for it is the outcome of the accruing of the awareness in the canton. In spite of this total resistance of the canton and the Province of Morona Santiago, the companies insist on carrying out their purposes and on carrying out their projects.


 


We demand that the order of Preventive Imprisonment against the comrades be revoked and the private mining and hydroelectric companies be banned from the area for they could only cause the population to reject them because of the authoritative and corrupt methods of trying to force their own interests.


 


CANTONAL COORDINATION OF LIMON INDANZA IN DEFENCE OF LIFE AND NATURE


Limon,  8th July 2007


 


A MAS REPORT


 


Antecedents


In 2002, works were started on the construction of a hydroelectric dam Hidroabanico over the river Abanico, in the province of Morona Santiago. This company is misleading the population making them believe that these works are meant to improve electric light in the canton and the province when the real intention is to transfer the energy to the mining companies Lower Mineral Exploration, Billington and, essentially, Corriente Resources Inc.


PRODEMICA (Project of Mining Development and Environmental control) informs us that in the 16 deepest pits in our country 700 tons of gold can be found, 1600 ton of silver and 1 500 00 tons of copper, equivalent to approximately 8 600 million American dollars.


In Morona Santiago people speak of 246 concessions of non-metallic minerals out of which it is said that about 20 are under concession in Limon Indanza. Consequently, all the energy produced by Hidroabanico is definitely for the mining companies that are looting on us, on our natural resources, and leaving us destruction havoc and impoverishment.


Authorities as well as the company have been failing to comply with – or rather violating a series of agreements, commitments and resolutions made up in assemblies held in the Limon Indanza canton in the struggle of social organisations, such as OCCE (Peasants Classist Organisation of Ecuador), the UNE, the youth, social and popular organisations, the Social Pastoral o Limon, women’s organisation and leaders such as our Councillor for MAS, Traquino Cajamarca, who has spent years in this struggle.


For the past two years, together with other activists of Limon, an important piece of work is being done among the grassroots of the parish gatherings participating in the Cantonal Coordination for Life and Sovereignty, holding lectures in defence of the environment for the construction of the hydroelectric plant on the Abanico river has spawned, right from the very beginning, a serious impact o the communities that depend on it, for its course vas deviated towards the territories where the mining companies operate, leaving these communities without a river and altering the microclimate of the region.


In 2007, the situation became more serious and the population started acting against the mines:


·                                            Eviction of the Lower, owner of 35 000 ha in Huarin (45 km from Limon) by the Shuar natives (1/11/2006)-


·                                            Eviction of the campsite of Curigens in San Carlos (San Juan Bosco canton)


·                                            Confrontation in Rosa de Oro (Curigens campsite) defended by 150 military men against 500 commoners     


 


THE 6TH MARCH 2007 DEMONSTRATION


 


Interview to Tarquino on the latest demonstration against the pillaging of our resources


What were the facts about this latest demonstration?


The March for Dignity and Life was organised for the 6th March summoned by the Committee for Defence of Life, the communities of the canton and other organisations in order to head for the premises of the substation of Hydrabanico to demand a statement from the authorities of the company about the agreements signed with the population since December 2006. About 150 people marched peacefully. Starting at 15.30 we arrived at the campsite at 19:00. After demonstrating outside the premises until midnight we withdrew . That was the moment when the workers of Hydroabanico shot at us threw dynamite at us. In the middle of this attack, comrade Aida was wounded in her arm. We asked the police to stop the attack, but they refused to do so saying that the substation was private property so they could not intervene. The, just after midnight, we threw the doors down and we confronted them in a man-to-man combat and leaving casualties on both sides. Not satisfied with that, the workers of Hidroabanico paid me and several other comrades a visit at home trying to lynch us.”


 


After that difficult episode, what is the situation of the demonstrators and the leaders?


Now, Hydroabanico, with the cooperation of bourgeoisie parties of the area and the agents of the law have unleashed a persecution emitting arrest warrants for alleged “terrorism” for seven of the leaders (.) Luz Maita and her daughter Gladis Maita (from the organisation Women for Life), Manuel Torres, inhabitant of the area and a Shuar native. But even more serious than this is the abuse the private guards of Hidroabanico, who go about invading the homesteads of the demonstrators in order to turn them over to the police and all this under the tolerant eye of the governor of Limon Indanza. Population fears for their lives.


 


What are the bourgeois parties involved in the persecution?


We hold the following to be responsible for the persecution: councillor Fidel Valverde of the DP (UDC), Alejandro Gomez candidate for mayor or the PSC in the past elections, councillor Tarquino Gomez of the PSC and Edmundo Oleas of the ID. They are economically interested in the conclusion of this project. We hold Hidroabanico responsible for everything the workers may do against us, because this company has bought them for crumbs.”


 


AFTER THE DEMONSTRATION


 


The direct persecution by the company and the scarce guarantees for the life of the comrades, forced them to leave Limon and seek asylum in Cuenca. Indignant, the population soon issued a statement and Traquino was invited to a cantonal Assembly held at mid March, where Hydroabanico was repudiated and he received support for his anti-mining struggles. This meeting finished in a 2000-man strong march. The movement gained strength and made headway towards an Indefinite-time strike in Morona receiving support throughout the province.


 


The posture of the government


Faced with this, the Rafael Correa adopted a posture of indirect support for the mining companies. He did not make any public statements in their favour but, at a post 6th March meeting between a Limon commission and the Secretary of the Government, his answer left no doubt: “The dam and the mining companies go, because they go.”


After the great demonstrations in the province the discourse changed. A commission was sent consisting of the sub-secretaries of Mines, Environment and Government to the great province assembly of March 3oth. The sub-minister of government, Eduardo Paredes, declared: “my words are serious,” he said. “We have not come here to deceive anybody. We cannot see any terrorists or subversives here; we can only see patriots.”. So far, however, no material or machinery has been taken away from Sipetrol and Hidrobanco.


In the month of May, the discourse of the government changed once more while, by the minister of the government, Gustavo Larrea, they continued conversations with the mining companies and with the characters that supported this activity in the province. This became evidenced when all the representatives of the national executive in the province (governor and mayors) who were in favour of the activity of the population were replaced by agents of the company. At present, the governor of Morona is Marcelo Valencia, principal defender of the mining company against the population.  (.)


Even Rafael Correa, in a totally demagogical attitude stood in Macas saying that his government pretended to obtain the best benefits of the mining concession while, at the same time, he never gave a clear answer to the popular petition to put an end to the mining in the province.


 


CURRENT SITUATION OF THE COMRADES


 


From the juridical point of view, the current situation has worsened for the comrades have been served an arrest warrant for the sake of enquiry (Aida, Astudillo, Tarquino Cajamarca, Marcos Ochoa and Franklin Reinoso). The warrant was emitted without listening to the testimony of the defence or evidence favourable to the accused. If they are arrested, they might remain in jail for between 2 and 5 years while the trial follows all the legal procedures. There are 202 people willing to declare in favour of the accused but, so far, the prosecutor has not acknowledged them and the entire trial is based on declaration of the personnel of the Hidrobanco. Juridical actions are on the stage of previous inquest and that may last as long as three months and it is necessary to force the prosecutor to listen to the testimonies.