Last week, on January 20th, 2009, Ecuador’s Indigenous Movement, led by the CONAIE, went to the streets to denounce a number of laws that have been recently approved by Ecuador’s government, as part of the post-Constitutional Assembly Process. The laws that have generated significant discontent among Ecuador’s indigenous populations include the Mining Law, the Water Law, and the Law on Food Sovereignty. The clash with the Indigenous Peoples is centered on the fact that these Laws, as they have been designed by smaller interest groups within Ecuador, violate the fundamental principles and rights that have recently been recognized in Ecuador’s new Constitution. Specifically, these Laws go against the basic principles of “Sumak Kausay” (or Well-being), as well as impede on Indigenous Peoples’ and Nature’s Rights. Also, CONAIE denounced the manner in which these laws have been developed and approved, i.e. without any real participation from Ecuador’s indigenous populations, or other social sectors traditionally excluded from the decision-making processes of the national government.
Fundación Pachamama gave financial, logistical, and legal support to CONAIE and its member organizations as they took to the streets to claim their rights and call attention to the fundamental contradictions embodied in these Laws. Unfortunately, the Government has not reacted in a way that meets CONAIE’s expectations. Therefore, CONAIE is currently holding follow-up meetings with its constituency to develop new strategies for applying pressure on the national Government, including the possibility of a new uprising in the next few months.