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Upside Down World in Ecuador: New Mining Law Creates Resistance

Yesterday, an Ecuadorian woman who is married to a U.S. citizen and has lived in the U.S. for five years, came to Cotacachi to look at some real estate.   We had been expecting her around 11 a.m.

At 10:45 she called from Cayambe, about one hour from here.   “The indigenous are blocking the highway,” she commented, “and I don’t know if we are going to get through or not!”

I hadn’t heard of any social actions, and so kind of forgot about it.  She arrived in Cotacachi at 4 p.m., with just enough time to look at a few houses and return to Quito.

Today, I found out what happened.  It seems that Participatory Democracy, Ecuadorian style, was in action once again.  You see, the people of Ecuador believe in democracy.  And when they elect a president based on his promises, they expect him to keep his word.

President Correa campaigned on a populist platform to limit, or highly restrict, mining practices in Ecuador that were damaging to the environment.  It appears he forgot about that in his proposal of a new mining law which will give much wider latitude to foreign mining interests.  Well, the people who put him into office didn’t forget, and they gave Ecuador a solid reminder yesterday.

Check out this news article from Upside Down World that explains what happen yesterday.  I suspect the same thing will happen again with greater strength unless Correa listens to the people who elected him to office and keeps his word to them.

About 8 months ago, we interviewed Leonardo Alvear, president of the Cotacachi Asemblea, the principle body that makes participatory democracy work in the Canton of Cotacachi.  In this interview, he described how the people of Cotacachi thought they had won their fight against Ascendant Mining, the Canadian company that has been trying to mine copper in the Intag.

If you haven’t read the article that Linda wrote, I really suggest you read it, especially if you get concerned when you hear of work stoppages and strikes in Ecuador.  This article gives the best description I have seen of the process of Participatory Democracy in Ecuador, and why I am high on the people of Ecuador.

They do not roll over when special interests try to tell them how it is going to be.  They believe that their future depends upon how strongly they resist attacks on the environment from any source.

Lord knows, we could use a bit of this kind of fortitude in the United States right now. . .


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