A coaltion of people's movements have united against large-scale mining in Ecuador, reports Daniel Denvir for In These Times, in the form of a multi-billion dollar lawsuit, massive highway blockades, and even a possible political alliance in the next election.
Indigenous groups and campesinos, or peasant farmers, are protesting President Rafael Correa’s recent call to expand mineral exploitation by citing the new constitution that Correa’s own Alianza País supported this past September. Among other things, this document extends legal rights to the natural environment and claims access to water as a human right. However, in January Correa seemed to backtrack on this language by moving to open Ecuador up for further mining by Canadian companies Kinross, Iamgold Inc., and Corriente Resources Inc. In response the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) mobilized thousands of protestors, who went so far as to physically block mining routes along the Panamerican Highway.
Additionally, the Amazon Defense Front, which represents indigenous and campesino movements, has initiated a lawsuit against oil mammoth Texaco, whose practices have wreaked environmental havoc and widespread illness in local populations. Denvir further reports that indigenous and campesino leaders are discussing the possibility of challenging Correa in the April elections, with the aim of gaining seats in the National Assembly.