Indigenous political organization elects anti-mining militant

23 de abril de 2013 - 09:29

Ecuador’s Kichwa people have elected a president who pledges to continue to actively oppose government-backed mining and oil extraction projects on Kichwa lands.

The Ecuarunari election was highly contested. Two candidates ended up removing their names from the ballot to support the winner, Carlos Pérez (a mestizo), and prevent Alberto Yumbay from being elected. Yumbay, from the province of Bolívar, was perceived to be a government plant, who would have subverted the Ecuarunari’s political opposition power.

The Ecuarunari is the name of the mountain region confederation of indigenous peoples. It’s constituency are the Andes Kichwa who make up the majority of Ecuador’s indigenous population. Ecuarunari is the largest block in the national confederation, the Conaie, which also incorporates elected representatives from the Confenaie (the Amazon confederation of nations) and the Conaic (the group for Coastal indigenous groups).

Humberto Cholango, president of the Conaie and former Ecuarunari leader, says he would rather not qualify any of the Ecuarunari presidential candidates as government-backed.

Pérez, the new president, says the organization will “radicalize their resistance,” and will consolidate their position on the various laws that are up for debate at the national assembly which will affect indigenous land rights (bills pertaining to water sources, culture and lands). The new national assembly, elected in February, will begin their session on May 14.

Cholango, outgoing president Delfin Tenasaca and incoming Pérez all agree that the organization’s main goal moving forward is to fight the extractive industry’s access to their ancestral lands.

Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa, who also controls a majority in the national assembly, however, is pushing what he calls “responsible resource extraction.”

Perez said in his first interview with Cuenca media outlets that he’s against any development that is extractive, that privileges capital over nature, or over collectives of people, their health, and the environment.

It’s the same position that the Conaie’s political party, Pachakutik, took during the last presidential election, which precluded dialogue with Ecuador’s ruling party, for whom resource extraction is a key economic goal.

Original story

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