El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ecuador Indians march to protest Correa's land policies

By AFP | AFP – 16 hours ago

Ecuador's largest advocacy group for Indians plans a two-week march to Quito beginning Thursday to protest President Rafael Correa's land and water policies that they say are hurting their way of life.

Correa accused the group, called CONAIE, of trying to destabilize his government and urged his followers to mobilize against them.

CONAIE is the Spanish acronym for Confederation of Indigenous Nationalites of Ecuador.

The march is scheduled to start in Pangui, in the southeastern Ecuadoran province of Zamora-Chinchipe, and end March 22 in Quito after a 700 kilometer (435 mile) trip.

The Indians are supported by the Popular Democratic Movement, a leftist party, the National Union of Educators and CONAIE, which supported Correa at the start of his administration in 2007 but soon moved to the opposition.

The "march for water, life and dignity of peoples" is intended to protest government policies that affect Indians and "violate" the 2008 socialist constitution promulgated by Correa, Humberto Cholango, CONAIE president, told AFP on Wednesday.

The group is demanding that Ecuador's Congress approve laws to regulate water management and land distribution in a way that protects their interests, and reject large-scale mining that damages natural resources.

They also want Congress to denounce what they call "criminalization of social protest," collection of new taxes and the dismissal of some government officials.

The protest was prompted partly by an agreement signed this week between the governments of Ecuador and China for industrial mining of copper in the Amazon's Ecuacorriente Zamora-Chinchipe region.

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