On November 17, 2017, Pachamama Alliance’s sister organization in Ecuador, Fundación Pachamama, was granted permission to re-open as an official NGO (non-governmental organization) in Ecuador.
Fundación Pachamama was officially closed by the Ecuadorian government in 2013. The government’s action to close the organization came on the heels of indigenous protests in late November 2013 against plans to open some 2.6 million hectares of rainforest to new oil drilling, through an auction called the XIth Oil Round. The oil auction only received three offers, and was widely deemed a failure. President Rafael Correa lashed out in a nationwide television address, falsely accusing Fundación Pachamama of fomenting violence during a demonstration on the day the oil bids were being announced, though no members of the organization were involved.
Pachamama Alliance’s Work Continued Despite Closure
Fundación Pachamama appealed the government’s decision, citing errors in the administrative process but ultimately it remained closed. Although no official non-governmental structure for Fundación Pachamama remained in Ecuador, the work of Pachamama Alliance and the team there continued to support nine indigenous federations in their work to keep their self-determination and future planning for their own territory. None of that work stopped during the transition time, and we continue to call for an oil-free Amazon.
In partnership with on-the-ground local experts, we have continued to forward key projects that were underway before Fundación Pachamama’s shut down and we have worked to present a new, sustainable vision for development in Ecuador’s Amazon and the country as a whole.
Reinstatement in 2017
In 2017, there was a change in the Presidency of Ecuador. The current administration of the Ministry of Environment reviewed and recognized Fundación Pachamama’s arguments regarding the errors of the administrative process that led to their closure. They regained their legal status on November 17, 2017.
The reinstatement of Fundación Pachamama is a historic victory for organized civil society, including the indigenous and environmental movement in Ecuador, which worked tirelessly for the protection of Human Rights and Nature.
Fundación Pachamama team members held a press conference in Quito on November 21 announcing this historic victory. Read more details about the reinstatement of Fundación Pachamama in their press release below.
For immediate dissemination
Quito, November 20, 2017
Historical Victory: Pachamama Foundation Has Been Reinstated in Ecuador
Last Friday, November 17, the Ministry of the Environment sent a notification to Fundación Pachamama about the reinstatement of its legal status, after almost four years of having been dissolved in an abusive manner. This is a historic victory for organized civil society, including the indigenous and environmental movement of the country, which has worked tirelessly for the protection of Human Rights and Nature.
The abolished Executive Decree 16 was applied for the first time on December 4, 2013, when the Ministries of the Interior and Environment closed the offices and dissolved the legal status of Fundación Pachamama. This occurred after the former president Rafael Correa publicly ordered the closure of the organization, during an intervention in his weekly TV and radio program of November 30.
Throughout the unequal administrative process against the Ministry of the Environment, the right to defense of the Foundation was not guaranteed, since the decision to dissolve was made prior to the installation of the conditions that allow a legitimate defense and the presentation of exculpatory evidence by the Foundation. In that sense, the current administration of the Ministry of Environment, in a decision of historical justice, recognized our arguments regarding the irregularities and errors of the administrative process that led to a violation of the right to freedom of association.
The case of the Fundación Pachamama is paradigmatic, because it exemplifies the dangers of a restrictive normative framework for civil society. This fact that has been documented and denounced both at the national and international level—before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and the Human Rights mechanisms of the United Nations.
We warmly greet the allied organizations, social movements and human rights defenders that continue resisting the attacks of the reduction of civic space. At the same time, we exhort the national government to build participatively the foundations and strengthen an environment conducive to civil society in Ecuador, so that the Fundación Pachamama case is just a bad memory of one of the lowest landmarks of democracy.
A Commitment to the Protection of Rights and the Conservation of Forests
Fundación Pachamama maintains its work in the Amazon, in the protection of the Sacred Headwaters of the Napo and Marañón Rivers, strengthening the processes for the defense of collective, territorial, and nature rights. The commitment of this organization to the indigenous nationalities of Ecuador for more than twenty years remains intact, especially now, when the frontiers of mining and oil exploitation are extended to Shuar, Achuar, Sápara, Shiwiar, and Kichwa territories where it was previously unthinkable, because they have expressed their outright rejection of this type of extractive activities.
We will continue to build, together with the indigenous nationalities, a development model without extractivism that respects the constitutional principles of Plurinationality, Well-Being and Nature’s Rights.
Benito Bonilla: 0 98 260 5071
Belén Páez: 0 99 944 1930
Juan Auz: 0 99 274 8045