QUITO, Jan 12 (Reuters) – Ecuador’s largest indigenous organization said on Thursday it was preparing to hold protests in mining areas in a bid to stop mining near its communities.
Indigenous organization CONAIE, which led the protests that paralyzed the country for nearly two weeks last year, and the anti-mining group voted during a meeting against the expansion of mining in Ecuador because of its social and environmental harm.
The groups voted to “prepare territorial defense conditions” in areas where mining companies operate, CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza said, adding that the measures would be progressive.
“We want to tell the multinational mining companies, the mining business people in our country, don’t invest more in mining because we are going to protect our land,” Iza said, without specifying when the protests might start.
Indigenous and environmental organizations say the government of conservative President Guillermo Lasso has not honored agreements made after last year’s demonstrations to impose a moratorium on mining in indigenous ancestral territories until the legislature passes a law defining rules for public consultation for projects.
Indigenous groups also rejected the government’s announcement that it would declare “safe zones” around some mining projects and condemned illegal mining in the Amazon.
Lasso, a former banker, promised to support mining operations in the South American country, but the projects were thwarted by court decisions and public opposition.
From January to October 2022, mining generated about $2.3 billion in export earnings, up more than 42% from the same period a year earlier, according to the central bank.
Neither the mining association nor the government immediately responded to requests for comment.
Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Simms Cobb; editing by Bradley Perrett
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