QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s major indigenous organization said on Thursday it was preparing to hold protests in mining areas in an attempt to stop extractive activities near its communities.
The CONAIE indigenous organization – which led protests that paralyzed the country for nearly two weeks last year – and an anti-mining group voted during an assembly to oppose the expansion of mining in Ecuador because of its social and environmental harm.
The groups voted to “prepare conditions of territorial defense” in areas where mining companies were present, CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza said, adding measures would be progressive.
“We want to say to trans-national mining companies, to mining business people in our country: don’t invest more in mining because we are going to defend our land,” Iza said, without specifying when protests might begin.
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Indigenous and environmental organizations say the government of conservative President Guillermo Lasso has not complied with deals made after last year’s demonstrations to place a moratorium on mining in ancestral indigenous territories until the legislature approves a law to outline community consultation rules for projects.
Indigenous groups have also rejected a government announcement that it will declare “security zones” around some mining projects and have decried illegal mining taking place in the Amazon.
Lasso, a former banker, has promised to bolster mining in the South American country, but projects have been hampered by court rulings and community opposition.
From January through October 2022, mining brought in some $2.3 billion in export revenue, more than 42% higher than the same period a year before, the central bank has said.
Neither the mining association nor the government immediately responded to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Bradley Perrett)
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