Ecuadorans march to protest water policy

2014-07-02 07:18
A native girl stands after a march of Ecuadorean indigenous people arrived in Quito. (Juan Cevallos, AFP)

A native girl stands after a march of Ecuadorean indigenous people arrived in Quito. (Juan Cevallos, AFP)

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Quito - Scores of indigenous demonstrators marched on Quito on Tuesday, to protest against President Rafael Correa's government and losing control of water on their traditional lands.

Lawmakers in Congress last week approved a new law that gives the state exclusive control over all water resources. It spelled a de facto end to indigenous councils that administered water resources on traditional lands.

"We are marching against [government] policies that go against the Ecuadoran people, namely approval of the water management law", said Vicenta Minda, an indigenous Saraguro woman who marched from the south for 10 days.

Indigenous groups say this is the government's way of making sure mining interests get what they want; many indigenous communities have opposed mining in some areas where the water they fish and drink was polluted by potentially toxic chemicals used in mining.

"We are the ones who built our communal water systems, so we should be the ones who decide on rights. Now the state should be in charge? Faced with that we are saying: civil disobedience", added Carlos Perez, who leads Ecuarunari, an association of indigenous groups from the highlands.

Ecuador has other indigenous groups in its Amazon lowlands and coast.

Correa, a leftist and economist by training, on Monday slammed the march as a "total failure" and "cheap politicking, we won't allow it".

Indigenous people make up seven percent of Ecuador's 14.4 million people, and have seen their political heft wane under Correa, who took office in 2007.
Read more on:    rafael correa  |  ecuador  |  water  |  conservation

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