Ecuador: Indigenous Tribes’ Militant Resistance to ‘left’ Correa Government

Feb 10, 2013

“To get the gold, they will have to kill every one of us”

The most-storied warrior tribe in Ecuador prepares to fight as the government sells gold-laden land to China

By Alexander Zaitchik,

Photographs by Beth Wald

Of the thousands of “Avatar” screenings held during the film’s record global release wave, none tethered the animated allegory to reality like a rainy day matinee in Quito, Ecuador.

It was late January 2010 when a non-governmental organization bused Indian chiefs from the Ecuadorean Amazon to a multiplex in the capital. The surprise decampment of the tribal congress triggered a smattering of cheers, but mostly drew stares of apprehension from urban Ecuadoreans who attribute a legendary savagery to their indigenous compatriots, whose violent land disputes in the jungle are as alien as events on “Avatar’s” Pandora.

The chiefs — who watched the film through plastic 3-D glasses perched beneath feathered headdress — saw something else in the film: a reflection. The only fantastical touches they noticed in the sci-fi struggle were the blue beanstalk bodies and the Hollywood gringo savior. “As in the film, the government here has closed the dialogue,” a Shuar chief told a reporter after the screening. “Does this mean that we do something similar to the film? We are ready.”

Three years after “Avatar’s” Quito premiere, declarations of martial readiness are multiplying and gaining volume throughout the tribal territories of Ecuador’s mountainous southeast. The warnings bare sharpest teeth in the Shuar country of the Cordillera del Condor, the rain forest mountain range targeted by President Rafael Correa for the introduction of mega-mining.

In recent years, the quickening arrival of drills and trenchers from China and Canada has provoked a militant resistance that unites the local indigenous and campesino populations. The stakes declared and the violence endured by this battle-scarred coalition is little-known even in Ecuador, where Correa has made muscular use of state security forces in arresting activists and intimidating journalists who threaten his image as an ecologically minded man-of-the-people. This repression has only intensified in the run-up to Correa’s expected reelection on Feb. 17.

[Domingo Ankwash, a Shuar leader and president of the Asociacion Bomboiza, is leading the fight against proposed large scale mines in the Cordillera del Condor.]

My guide to this simmering “Avatar” in the Amazon was a 57-year-old Shuar chief named Domingo Ankuash. Like many elder Shuar, Ankuash does not appear to be blustering when he says he will die defending his ancestral lands in the province of Morona-Santiago, which borders Peru. Early in my month traveling the Condor, he took me deep into the country for which he is prepared to lay down his life. After a steep two hours’ hike from his village, we arrived at a forest clearing of densely packed earth. Through the trees and hanging vines, a 40-foot waterfall replenished a deep rock-strewn lagoon. The cascade is one of thousands in the Condor cordillera, a rolling buffer between the cliffs of the eastern Andes and the continental flatness of the Amazon basin. Continue reading

Interview with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy

August 31, 2012 by thisdayinwikileaks

Uruguayan journalist Jorge Gestoso interviews Julian Assange from within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.In this extensive interview, originally aired on GamaTV on August 30, they talk about the UK government’s threat to extract Assange from the embassy, the nature of his relationship with the Ecuadorian government, the secret charges drawn up against him by US prosectors and the allegation of sex crimes in Sweden.

“What are you going to say if you have to give your side of the story to the investigation in Sweden?” Gestaso asks Assange.

“The UK courts have admitted that no woman went to a police station in Sweden to complain about me. This is something that the police decided to do,” says Assange.

Originally aired on GamaTV, August 30, 2012.

Original link:
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Ecuador: Indigenous movements challenge Correa government

President Rafael Correa

Upside Down World, October 26, 2010

Benjamin Dangl

The recent right-wing coup attempt in Ecuador shed light on the rupture between President Rafael Correa and the country’s indigenous movements. This rocky relationship demonstrates the challenges of protesting against a leftist leader without empowering the right.

When Correa took office in January of 2007, he moved forward on campaign promises including creating an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution, using oil wealth for national development, and confronting US imperialism. However, once the electoral confetti stopped falling, Correa began to betray the indigenous movements’ trust on many fronts, pushing for neoliberal policies, criminalizing protests against his administration and blocking indigenous movements’ input in the development of extractive industries and the re-writing of the constitution.

Indigenous movements protested a right wing coup attempt on September 30th while criticizing the negative policies of Correa, a president widely considered a member of Latin America’s new left who is working to implement modern democratic socialism. How did it come to this? The history of the dance between Correa and the indigenous movements offers insight into the current political crisis in the country. Continue reading

Ecuador: Correa-istas slander anti-Correa indigenous as “imperialist tools”

The struggles which continue to unfold in Ecuador have opened to international view the social forces and politics that are sharply contending throughout Latin America.  See previous posts on Frontlines for more background:

Ecuador’s CONAIE and Defamation by “Journalism of the State”: Historic Organizers of Latin American Struggles Refute the Distortions Made by a US Lawyer

By Fernando León and Erin Rosa,

Special to The Narco News Bulletin,  October 12, 2010

Last September 30, Latin America observed what appeared to be the third coup d’etat of the new millennium, and upon first glance many of us believed it was possible. But with the passage of time following this event, the facts have become even more confusing. Ecuadorian social movements that didn’t support President Rafael Correa ipso facto were attacked with criticisms and falsehoods from those whose vision of the left in the hemisphere doesn’t transcend the limits of the state. Within the very nature of the attempted coup, or whatever it was, the most relevant thing emerged a few days later, with the attempted attacks against historic Ecuadorian indigenous organizations that, for strong differences over its policies, don’t support the Ecuadorian government.

Leading the charge against these indigenous social movements is US lawyer Eva Golinger, a television personality for TeleSur, a channel created by the Venezuelan government that receives additional financing from other Latin American governments. Formerly with the government-supported Washington DC-based Venezuelan Information Office, Golinger has attempted in recent days to paint a portrait of historic organizations like the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE in Spanish initials) as agents of US imperialism. In separate interviews with Narco News, Latin America social fighters with decades of experience in the field of struggles in the hemisphere told this newspaper that they found such statements absurd, unfounded, and unsupported by the supposed “evidence” offered. Among them is Raquel Gutierrez, the Mexican academic and former political prisoner who was accused (along with current Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera) of being a member of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army in Bolivia. Gutiérrez says that “tying the CONAIE with imperialism is the mother of all lies.” Continue reading

Ecuadoran Maoists condemn the intra-bourgeois conflict in Ecuador: Not our fight

Partido Comunista del Ecuador-Sol Rojo (PCE-SR)

October 1, 2010

On the Violent Conflict within the Bourgeoisie of Ecuador

Once again the country is dragged into a state of shock as a result of the existing contradictions between the comprador and bureaucratic bourgeoisie.

These  intra-bourgeois contradictions, which have inevitably taken a violent character, do not reflect true class antagonisms, but the struggle for political and administrative control of the Old State.

The events occurring yesterday, particularly in the capital and the Republic, manifested in the police uprising against the regime, laid bare some important aspects that we must analyze in order to take a clear class position:

• The class character that the repressive state apparatus always has depends on their tendency to serve the interests of the big bourgeoisie in either its bureaucratic or comprador form.

• These events have shown the criminal nature of the National Police and revealed their true repressive, murderous and arrogant essence.

• The arrogance of Correa’s fascist regime that uses all these events to try to “legitimize” to the masses its misnamed “citizens’ revolution.”

• The open role of revisionism that is carried out by the opportunistic left of the revisionist PCE and the MPD, raising false flags of Communism, to come out in support of the “established order” and bourgeois democracy, and attempt to drag the masses into an intra-bourgeois conflict.

• Furthering the “manipulation” of the Police by elements representing the comprador faction of the bourgeoisie, with serious intent to carry out a coup, the scene reveals the imperialist plan to consolidate its control in the country. Continue reading

Ecuador: Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) Statement on coup attempt

Saturday, 02 October 2010

[For information on CONAIE, see their website at or–ed.]

CONAIE Calls For Unity In Order To Establish The Plurinational State Of The Peoples In Ecuador

Today, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) expressed its opposition to the actions of the right that covertly attempt to encourage a coup attempt.

It also condemned the economic and social policy of the government of Rubén Correa and reiterated that it will continue fighting for the construction of a Plurinational State with a true democracy.

In a statement released today, the largest indigenous organization of Ecuador noted that the process of change “runs the risk of being defeated (…), if it does not establish alliances with organized popular sectors”.

The social crisis that broke out today has been caused “by the government and the refusal to engage in dialogue regarding the drafting of laws,” the organization indicated. Continue reading

Ecuador in state of siege; Soldiers rescue president; UNASUR, US and region support Correa

Supporters of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa protest against rebellious police outside the hospital where Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is located in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday Sept. 30, 2010.


October 1, 2010

Ecuador was under a state of siege Friday, the streets quiet with the military in charge of public order, after soldiers rescued President Rafael Correa from a hospital where he’d been surrounded by police who roughed him up and tear-gassed him earlier.

Correa and his ministers called Thursday’s revolt _ in which insurgents also paralyzed the nation with airport shutdowns and highway blockades _ an attempt to overthrow him and not just a simple insurrection by angry security force members over a new law that would cut benefits for public servants.

The region’s presidents quickly showed their support for Correa, rushing to a meeting in Buenos Aires early Friday and condemning what many called a coup attempt and kidnapping of Correa. The U.S. also warned those who threaten Ecuador’s democracy that the leftist Correa has Washington’s full support.

There was no sign on the capital’s streets Friday morning of the rebellious police who had thrown the country into chaos the previous day.

Quito’s Mariscal Sucre airport and the airfields in Guayaquil and Manta, which were shut to international traffic Thursday by soldiers, reopened overnight.

At least two police officers and a soldier were killed and dozens injured in Thursday’s mayhem, said Irina Cabezas, the vice president of congress. Dozens were injured. Continue reading

Protests challenge Ecuador indigenous summit

It was all smiles inside the summit

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Left-wing Latin American leaders have signed a declaration to promote indigenous rights.

The presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia signed the document at a summit in Ecuador.

Cuba, Nicaragua and Dominica were also represented.

Outside the venue, Ecuador’s main indigenous organisation protested, saying it had not been consulted.

The “Declaration of Otavalo” is the latest initiative of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (Alba), a left-wing grouping founded by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

It promises to build societies that respect the rights of Latin America’s indigenous people, as well as those of African descent.

It also pledges to protect the “Mother Earth” with development that respects the environment.

“We have to get rid of capitalism and protect the earth, protect nature” said Bolivian president Evo Morales, who is an indigenous Aymara.

But Ecuador's indigenous leaders felt excluded.

Indigenous unity?

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador said the main challenge was to pull indigenous people out of centuries of poverty and exploitation.

But outside the venue, representatives of Ecuador’s main indigenous confederation, Conaie, staged an angry protest, saying their views were not being represented.

Indigenous leaders tried to get into the summit to hand a written statement to Mr Morales, but were held back by police.

Conaie – the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador – was one of Rafael Correa’s main allies when he won the presidency in 2006, and again in elections last year. Continue reading