SOLIDARITY DEMONSTRATIONS FOR ECUADORIAN INDIANS
(San Francisco) On April 22, Earth Day, a demonstration will be held at the Ecuadorian consulate in San Francisco at 455 Market Street, in solidarity with a march by Ecuadorian Indians. On April 11, over 2,000 Ecuadorian Amazon Indians began a 300 mile march from their communities to Quito, the capital of Ecuador to demand that the government recognize their traditional land rights.
Throughout Ecuador's history, indigenous land rights have often been ill-defined, or in many cases completely ignored by the government of Ecuador to address legalization of their traditional territories. However, because the talks have proved futile the Indians have decided to undertake this march.
The Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Pastaza (OPIP), an Indian confederation, is organizing over 148 communities from the Pastaza Province. They believe by joining together in what is one of the largest efforts they have ever undertaken they will have the political leverage necessary to force the government to address their land rights. The Indians' demands are twofold:
- The legal recognition of the traditional territories of the Quichua, Shiwiar and Anchuar nations. - An amendment to the first article of the constitution to proclaim Ecuador as a multi-national, multi-cultural nation.
On April 8, says Antonio Vargas of OPIP, the military occupied a biligual school, and has established road blocks in Pastaza to intimidate the indigenous people who will march. The urgency of recognition of land title is in response to the encroachment of oil companies that are now moving into the 5 million acre Central Ecuadorian Amazon region of Pastaza. In the past two decades, oil exploration in the 12 million acres of the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon has left serious ecological and social disasters. Several U.S.-based oil companies are involved, such as ARCO, Texaco and Maxus.
Throughout North America solidarity marches will be held on Earth Day to increase the march's profile, as well as to raise awareness in the U.S. and Canada.
(Posted in Native-l on April 10, 1992 by SAIIC, email@example.com.)