Source: Amazon Watch
Indigenous Leaders Denounce Ecuadorian Government Over Mining Conflicts:
We are being persecuted by the military and the police who are invading the territories of the Shuar communities,' Elvia Dagua, a local indigenous member of CONFENIAE told the media Thursday. 'They have destroyed homes. So the Shuar people, women, men, and children have had to flee.
The Ecuadorian government forcibly removed 100 Shuar families from the region of Santiago de Panantza, Ecuador's southern Amazon region, destroyed their homes and handed the land over to Chinese mining company Explorcorbres S.A.. EXSA plans to construct an open pit copper mine on the land. The president of Ecuador claims EXSA legally purchased the land; however, that does not make their actions morally justifiable. Every person has a natural right, deducible from moral law, to use the earth without which he or she could not live. When landed property denies some this right, it becomes an immoral institution and an impediment to human progress in the long run that must be abolished and returned to a state of common property. In a city, this would mean recapturing rents and putting them towards public expenditures. In this case, the Ecuadorian government should have asked for the prior and informed consent of the Shuar communities that inhabited the region, and at least compensated them for the loss of their property. Ecuador is a signatory to ILO Convention 169, which prohibits such unilateral confiscation of land and destruction of indigenous communities. Article 14 Section 1 obliges signatories to recognize indigenous ownership and possession over the lands they have traditionally occupied and cultivated. Section 2 states
Governments shall take steps as necessary to identify the lands, which the peoples concerned traditionally occupy, and to guarantee effective protection of their rights of ownership and possession. Furthermore, where governments retain subsoil rights for the purpose of leasing them out to extraction industries, Article 15 Section 2 obliges them to establish and maintain a procedure for consulting indigenous communities effected by any extraction project. By forcing Shuar communities from Santiago de Panatza, the criminal government of Ecuador has violated both moral law and international law. I would think an indigenous tribe would have a better claim to the land than a foreign mining company, but when governments are run by criminals the laws are often perverted to justify lawless ends.