Indigenous marched 700km to protect their forests

Ending a two-week trek from their native rain forests, hundreds of indigenous Ecuadorians marched into the nation’s capital Thursday, demanding that the government halt plans to bring large-scale mining to the Amazon.
It’s been six years since Ecuador’s indigenous population helped elect the country’s president, Rafael Correa. Now the same communities are up in arms over his plans to mine the country’s vast mineral resources, which have so far been left largely untapped. They worry that such mining will not only lead to deforestation, but that the extraction process could pollute watersheds and thus threaten their survival.
At least 1,500 indigenous people marching from the north and the south of the country convened in the capital to hold a rally and deliver a petition to parliament. The president, who has been adamant about the need to develop mining in order to boost the economy, called for a counter-rally that was attended in similar numbers. “We can’t be beggars sitting on a sack of gold,” Correa said earlier this month, when Ecuador signed its first major mining deal with a Chinese-owned company.
Ricardo Buitron leads a project calling for water to be recognised as a human right.
"This march, organised by both indigenous people and Ecuadorian social rights groups, was named ‘The March for Water, Life and Dignity’ because, first of all, mining threatens watersheds, notably in the south of the country, where most of the mining is set to take place. This march is also about life and dignity, because the indigenous populations run the risk of having to leave their lands.
The march was very difficult for the protesters. Local authorities along the way did all they could to stop them from reaching Quito. For example, those on foot were forbidden to walk through certain towns. Other activists who were heading to Quito by bus to join the rally were forced to stop outside the city and continue on foot.
This project is anti-constitutional, because the right to clean water and the protection of our ecosystem is written into our constitution. We’re determined to stop this project, because we’ve already seen what awful effects mines can have on the environment. Oil mining by Chevron in the north of the country, which lasted for four decades, not only contaminated watersheds but also forced indigenous people to leave their lands. One tribe, the Tetetes, has entirely disappeared. And it’s no coincidence that the cancer rate in that area is much higher than the national average." (France24)


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