This is a report on very recent events in Ecuador regarding the indigenous people's mobilization. Yesterday the Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees declared the recently passed agrarian development law unconstitutional, as CONAIE had hoped. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, President Sixto Duran Ballen, as well as the Social Christian Party (the party responsible for the Agrarian Development Law) rejected this decision by the Tribunal. The Supreme Court is to decide on the constitutionality of the law as well. However, the Court in Ecuador does not have the same amount of power that the court in the United States does. Thus, even if the Supreme Court declares the law unconstitutional, the President doesn't have to accept the decision - or at least that is how it works in practice - although he would certainly be under pressure to accept the decision.
Unfortunately there have been confrontations between the military and some indigenous protesters - resulting in the death of one native american, and a number of injuries. Also, the military has apparently violated freedom of the press by taking cassettes and other informational items from radio stations, and has, at least temporarily, closed them down.
Finally, yesterday CONAIE was able to secure the participation of religious leaders, as well as an international human rights organization, to mediate in the negotiations between CONAIE and the government, although to this point the government has yet to accept CONAIE's commission.
In light of these events, I would suggest that people continue to write letters. First, write to the Supreme Court asking them to follow the lead of the Tribunal's decision to declare the law unconstitutional. Second, to the President, ask that he accept the decision of the Tribunal so that a new, more consensus-based law can be formed, according to the wishes of the indigenous and peasant organizations - with the mediation of the religious leaders and international organization as requested by CONAIE. Also say that you deplore the death and injuries resulting from the military-indigenous confrontations, and that you expect the Ecuadorian military and police to respect human rights, as Ecuador is supposed to be a democratic country. Finally, you can write to the Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees expressing your gratitude that they have declared the law unconstitutional, as it is, in fact, unconstitutional.
Sixto Duran Ballen
Presidente del Ecuador
Garcia Moreno 1043
FAX (593-2) 580 735
Dr. Hugo Ordonez
Presidente de la Sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia
Piedraita y Av. 6 de Diciembre
FAX (593-2) 508-470
Dr. Carlos Jaramillo Diaz
Presidente del Tribunal de Garantias Constitucionales Av. Tarqui 315
FAX (593-2) 569-861
copies to CONAIE:
Luis Macas - Presidente CONAIE
Av. Los Granados 2553 y 6 de Diciembre
FAX (593-2) 442-271
Things are happening quickly, so send FAX if you can - especially to the Supreme Court, as they are likely to decide on the Law soon.