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

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