Government of Ecuador shuts down Fundación Pachamama for “affecting the public peace.”

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Yesterday, officials from the Police Administration of Pinchincha closed down Fundación Pachamama’s office in Quito. They left a resolution from the Ministry of Environment stating that the organisation is dissolved.

According to the Wall Street Journal, President Rafael Correa accused two NGOs, Fundación Pachamama and Yasunidos, of attacking Juan Pablo Lira, Chile’s ambassador in Ecuador, during protests against a licencing round for oil concessions.

Yasunidos is collecting signatures for a referendum on oil extraction from the ITT block in Yasuni National Park.

Fundación Pachamama denies the charges of violence. “We reject violent demonstrations that come from any sector. We neither support nor engage in any violent act,” Maria Belén Páez, Fundación Pachamama’s President, said in a statement (posted in full below).

Ecuador’s latest round of bidding for oil concessions covers a total area of more than three million hectares of Amazon rainforest. During his weekly broadcast last weekend, President Correa accused Fundación Pachamama’s allies of “fomenting dissent and violence”. Earlier this week, Fundación Pachamama put out a statement in defence of its work, (posted in full below).

As in other countries, REDD in Ecuador takes place in parallel to business as usual, including the suppression of the right to dissent.

On its website, the UN-REDD programme reports that,

In order to reverse forest loss, Ecuador is implementing a series of initiatives to reduce deforestation in the country as part of good governance of forest resources and to simultaneously contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing GHG emissions related to this activity.

This may sound wonderful, but it inadvertently highlights why REDD will neither address climate change nor protect forests. Climate change is driven by digging out fossil fuels and burning them. When this takes place in rainforest areas, it has a serious impact on the forests and the livelihoods of the people living there. Yet REDD is powerless to stop oil expansion – even in forest areas, it seems. In fact, REDD as a carbon trading mechanism would actively promote oil expansion, by allowing oil corporations and governments to buy carbon credits to offset their climate pollution.

Fundación Pachamama on International and Public Opinion

pachamama.org, 4 December 2013

We regret to inform you that today, Wednesday December 4, 2013, officials from the Police Administration of Pinchincha came to the offices of Fundación Pachamama in the city of Quito and proceeded to close the offices and left us a resolution from the Ministry of Environment stating that our organization is dissolved.

This closure is an arbitrary act that seeks to suppress our legitimate right to dissent from the decision of the National Government to concede areas of Amazonian indigenous nations to oil companies, without respecting their constitutional rights and to free, prior and informed consultation, according to the standards of the International Law of Human Rights.

Our position is based on the exercise of human rights and the rights of nature and is based on actions under the rule of law. For the past 16 years we have offered our support and solidarity with indigenous organizations that legitimately represent the ancestral peoples of the Amazon.

We reject violent demonstrations that come from any sector. We neither support nor engage in any violent act. We cannot be blamed for acts in which we have not participated.

For our work in defending rights, we have been attacked publicly and violently by those who hold political power, and this has been widely disseminated by the media under government control. That is violence. It is also violence to dissolve an organization unexpectedly, without legal cause, without due process that guarantees self-defense.

Faced with this aggression, we declare:

  1. We do not waive our right to defend rights.
  2. We dispute the unlawful decision by all legal means at our disposal.

We will not allow this aggression of which we have been victim to divert attention and debate away from the underlying issue. This is a violation of the collective rights of indigenous Amazonian peoples and the rights of nature, for an oil round that is against the will of the rightful owners of the affected territories, through a process of “socialization”, not a consultation.

Maria Belén Páez
PRESIDENT OF FUNDACIÓN PACHAMAMA

Quito, December 2, 2013 – Fundación Pachamama, an Ecuadorian non-profit organization with 16+ years working in defense of the Human Rights of Amazon Indigenous Peoples and Rights of Nature, exercises its democratic right to freedom of speech and considers it necessary to state its position regarding the XI Round and the opinions expressed in the Enlace Ciudadano No. 350 regarding our organization:

Fundación Pachamama regrets, in the first place, that the Ecuadorian government convened the XI Oil Round that affects more than three million hectares of mega-diverse Amazon rainforests, which constitute the ancestral territory of seven Amazon indigenous nationalities. It is worrisome that the government continues fostering exploration and exploitation in the Amazon without having adequately implemented free, prior and informed consultation processes with the indigenous nationalities. Furthermore, the development of this process has generated conflicts and has divided the Amazon population, indicating clearly the lack of respect of the democratic indigenous governance system, which is a product of the democratic expression of the base communities. On November 28th, 2013, we saw how the oil industry did not respond favorably to the XI Oil Round, which we believe should lead the authorities to reflect on whether or not the bidding process should continue with such conditions.

We have the right to dissent the decision of the authorities, the process that has been implemented and alternatively propose that the oil remain underground to preserve one of the greatest riches of our country, its cultural and biological diversity. The current Constitution obliges the government to find a new development model that respects our country’s Pluri-nationality, Human Rights, Rights of Nature and “Sumak Kawsay” or “Living “Forest.”

Fundación Pachamama also extends its solidarity with the Amazon nationalities and peoples defending their territory. We believe it is illegitimate to implement processes affecting indigenous territories and not include the presidents of indigenous nationalities and peoples that have been elected by their people and are recognized by the “Development Council of the Nationalities and Peoples of Ecuador” (CODENPE).

Our support is grounded in the tools that the government and the rule of law provides to safeguard constitutional rights. We have been doing so throughout the years as we have stood by, among others, the struggle of the community of Sarayaku in the Inter-American System of Human Rights. Under no circumstances, do we support actions outside the rights granted by the Constitution. We defend the right to protest peacefully and reject the use of violence from any side.

Dissenting to government policies and defending constitutional rights are inherent to democracy and we are not willing to give up their exercise. We consider this position to be coherent with the mission of our organization, therefore we reject any act that seeks to impede or make our work difficult.

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2 Comments

  1. Absurd and antidemocratic measure!

  2. I have conducted research in Ecuador over the past 4 years and met many good people, fighting against the increasign oil development in the Amazon and standing up against the government to give Indigenous people a voice and to empower them to demand that their rights are respected. What is happening right now is not only absurd or even unconstitutional, but it is not even in the long-term interest of the country. Sacrifying its natural capital and selling it out for oil money is not the solution, especially given the history of oil spills, environmental pollution, health issues and destruction that comes with it.

    Fundacion Pachamama has opposed this for many years and the current disolution is yet another sign that the government is becoming increasinly autocratic, short-sighted, and does not respect human rights!!!

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