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Ecuador: The ‘March for Life’ Approaches Quito

The March for Life is approaching the Ecuadorean capital of Quito without major delays. In a previous post the march was near to the Azogues [es], Cañar [es] (where participants discovered and handed over an undercover cop [es] in the march), and Zhud (es) regions. From there they continued on to Alausí and Gamote [es].

In Gamote they joined up with another march [es] coming from the Amazonian regions of Morona Santiago and el Pastaza, made up of people from the Zápara, Shuar and Ashuar ethnic groups who had recently broken [es] their alliances with the government.

The March then continued through the cities of Riobamba [es] and Ambato [es], where they rested [es], arriving in Latacunga on Monday. There they met up with [es] more delegates from the Shuar and Sarayacu communities, all the while surrounded by police surveillance in both vans and helicopters.

There were also billboard advertisements on the route with messages in support of the government [es] and against the protests, in which the marchers were labeled as cowards. The tweet [es] below from Maria Mendoza (@mariamendoza200) shows one example:

Con recursos del ESTADO, se desprestigia el derecho a la libre expresión del pueblo del Ecuador. #marchaporlavida http://pic.twitter.com/jz4aPiQE

They are using GOVERNMENT funds to discredit the right to freedom of expression of the Ecuadorian people. #marchaporlavida http://pic.twitter.com/jz4aPiQE
"Destabilization is the weapon of cowards" photo by Maria Mendoza via Twitter

"Destabilization is the weapon of cowards" photo by Maria Mendoza via Twitter

Government supporters also condemned [es] the use of alcohol on the march, since in Cuenca, the prefect of Azuay, Paúl Carrasco, gave corn and a bottle of alcohol to his counterpart from Zamora Chinchipe, Salvador Quishpe, leader of the March. But the protesters mitigated [es] this fact by putting it in the context of local traditions and denying the use of alcohol in the march outside of ritual purposes.

Another strategy in the negative campaign [es] that the government is using to detract participants from the March is that of scheduling events [es] and aid deliveries [es] to the communities where the March is passing, so that the March always ends up having to go head to head with government supporters in a show of strength [es].

Meanwhile in Quito, the government supporters are organizing themselves in anticipation of the arrival of the March for Life and have already occupied of parts of [es] the Plaza Grande (or Plaza de la Independencia), erecting tents in the vestibule of the cathedral of Quito in a sort of vigil.

On the other hand, supporters for the March for Life are evaluating [es] strategies to deal with this. A parallel march originating from Otavalo and Imbabura to the north of Quito is planned [es] and is expected to have 5,000 participants. The March for Life, on the other hand will arrive in Quito from the South.


Poster for the March for Life

Poster for the March for Life

In the Ecuadorian blogosphere there is little buzz about the March, aside from those blogs that are already tied to the subject of indigenous people. The extent to which people are blogging about this issue is basically to simply reproduce announcements and other similar articles. Perhaps when the March arrives in Quito the view will change.

Among those blogs that do post on the issue is Crónicas del Despojo, that uploaded [es] the document entitled “the Mandate of the Plurinational March” to SlideShare. Here is an extract:

2. No a la minería a gran escala. Cumplimiento del Mandato Constituyente n°6 (Minero). Exigencia a la Corte Constitucional para que resuelva la acción de incumplimiento de dicho mandato. Derogatoria de la Ley Minera por ser inconstitucional. Nulidad del contrato de explotación minera firmado el día 5 de marzo entre el gobierno nacional y la empresa ECSA Ecuacorriente. Presentación del informe de contraloría de este proyecto.

3. No ampliación de la frontera petrolera. Suspensión de la Décima y Decimoprimera Ronda Petrolera. Respeto a la autodeterminación de los pueblos libres (en aislamiento voluntario) y cumplimiento de las medidas cautelares dictadas por la CIDH. Suspensión de las operaciones en el bloque 31 y plena garantía de intangibilidad del ITT. Suspensión inmediata de la construcción del proyecto Poleoducto [sic] Pascuales – Cuenca.

2. No to large-scale mining. Fulfillment of the Constitutional Mandate No. 6 (mining). Demand that the Constitutional Court resolve the breaching of said mandate. Annulment of the Mining Law for being unconstitutional. Nullification of the mining contract that was signed the 5th of March between the national government and the company ECSA Ecuacorriente. Review of the controller's report on this project.

3. No to widening of the oil zone. Suspension of the tenth and eleventh round of oil bidding. With regard to the self determination of the free people (in voluntary exile) and the fulfillment of the precautionary measures dictated by the CIDH. Cessation of the operations in block 31 and full guarantee of the legal intangibility of the ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini). Immediate suspension of the construction of the Pascuales-Cuenca Pipeline project.

In Ecuador Contaminada, a press release from Comunicación Ecuarunari, Red de Comunicadores Kichwas -Ecuachaski, that discussed the March's progress through Azogues was republished [es]:

Más de 2000 comuneros y comuneras de la UPCCC del cantón Cañar no pudieron llegar al punto de encuentro dado que el reten policial colocado en la vía hacia Azogues detuvo los vehículos impidiendo su participación. La masividad de la marcha sorprendió a los pobladores locales, que hace años no vivían una concentración tan masiva. Una de las observadoras exclamaba que no pensó que los indígenas tuvieran tanta fuerza aun.

More than 2,000 members of the UPCCC (Provincial Union of Cañari Cooperatives and Communes) could not arrive at the established meeting point since barriers the police had placed on the route to Azogues stopped the passage of vehicles, thereby preventing them from participating. The enormity of the march surprised local inhabitants that had not seen such a large number of demonstrators in a long time. One of the onlookers remarked that she didn't realize that indigenous people still had so much power.

Voces Obreras reproduced [es] a notice from the Government council Sarayaku [es], a Kichwa community in the Pastaza province [es], in the Ecuadorean Amazon.

Sarayaku como baluarte de la lucha anti petrolera, siempre ha estado inmerso en defender los derechos de los pueblos indígenas y de los pueblos amazónicos, hoy con más razón sale a reivindicar sus derecho a la resistencia y estar en las jornadas convocada por la CONAIE, nosotros como pueblos no dejaremos de luchar para defender nuestra madre tierra

Sarayaku as a bastion of the fight against oil production has always been involved in the fight to defend the rights of indigenous peoples and peoples of the amazon, and is coming out today with even more reason to defend their rights to resist and their rights to participate in conferences organized by CONAIE. We, as a people will not cease fighting to defend our mother earth.

The blog Ecuachaski also posted [es] an article that mentions the reasons why the people of descent Puruway [es] are protesting and joining the march:

Basta señor presidente de seguir entregando nuestras tierras, nuestras aguas, nuestra riqueza a las empresas mineras extranjeras, basta de más impuestos para los pobres, expresó, Salvador Quishpe, prefecto de Zamora Chinchipe, quien compartió las declaraciones realizadas por la Ministra de Secretaria de Pueblos, Mireya Cárdenas, que el areteo a los ganados si es para cobrar los impuestos progresivamente. Contra esta medida gubernamental estamos luchando y caminando hacía la ciudad de Quito, para exigir alto a los impuestos.

Mr President, enough with giving away our lands, our waters, our riches, to foreign mining companies. Enough with more taxes for poor people, expressed Salvador Quishpe, prefect of Zamora Chinchipe, who also shared statements made by the Minister of the Secretariat of the People, Mireya Cárdenas, that the new program to have identification ear tags on livestock is a means of garnering tax revenues gradually. We are fighting and walking towards the city of Quito in protest against these government measures– to demand a stop to the taxes.

In YouTube videos of the march continue to be posted. Users Comunicandonos y manasur3 shared these two videos with music and images of the march:

TVEcuadorLibreRed published this small report:

Finally, 78gigos shares this citizen video of the march in Riobamba on March 16, 2012:

Post originally published in Juan Arellano's personal blog [es]. The image from the March for Life poster in this post was obtained from the blog Ecuador Contaminada [es].

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