I just returned from Cielo Verde, a zone in Intag, Ecuador that is part of the province of Cotacachi where I stayed with Ecuadorean friends and resisters to the mining that now plagues Ecuador (https://www.google.com.ec/search?q=pictures+of+Cielo+Verde+Ecuador&client=firefox-a&hs=WmK&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=fflb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=wXqCUpPKGpPb4APAiYHgAg&ved=0CC4QsAQ&biw=1600&bih=753).
There, in the most beautiful pristine land in the world, Cielo Verde, the Junin mine operates each day sucking up copper (http://codelcoecuador.com/2013/05/12/intag-news-11-may-2013-mining-paradise-codelco-trying-to-set-the-stage-ecuadors-doublespeak-and-more/) (http://codelcoecuador.com/2013/03/20/cotacachi-approval-of-codelco-enami-mining-project-sets-the-stage-for-widespread-conflicts/).
In Magdalena, near Cielo Verde, El Corazon mine is searching long and hard for gold (http://www.scribd.com/doc/77999461/Mining-and-Democracy-in-Intag-Ecuador).
After spending days in Intag (https://www.google.com.ec/search?q=pictures+of+Cielo+Verde+Ecuador&client=firefox-a&hs=WmK&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=fflb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=wXqCUpPKGpPb4APAiYHgAg&ved=0CC4QsAQ&biw=1600&bih=753#channel=fflb&q=pictures+of+Intag+Ecuador&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&tbm=isch) , Magdalena and Cielo Verde it is clear that the most bio diverse lands in the world are under attack by the ‘nuevos conquistadores’ — mining interests.
This year I also traveled by canoe to Yasuni Park, one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. It is in Ecuador. Correa has announced that part of Yasuni will be slated for oil mining by the government.
Yasuni National Park, in eastern Ecuador, is home to some of the richest variety of life on Earth. Studies have shown that a single hectare here contains a wider variety of life than in all of North America. One can only wonder what medicines are waiting to be discovered.
The state-backed company, Petroamazonas, has told the Kichwa tribe that they plan to begin prospecting for oil in the area, the Guardian reported this year. But the tribesmen say they are ready to die fighting to protect their land, which covers some 270 square miles (700 square kilometers) of pristine rainforest, an area about four times the size of the District of Columbia.
TheRealnews.com reported two days ago that Ecuadorian tribesman were killed in an Ecuadorian government raid but the story has been removed. Realnews says it is strengthening its coverage.
Googling the Realnews.com story reveals no results. There has been little if any coverage of this allegation.
Twenty percent of all of Ecuador is under mining
Ecuador cannot say that it is environmentally a symbol for the world when it has policies that favor mining and Chinese imperialism.
However, President Rafael Correa is in a corner. If he wishes to continue to invest in the public sector he says he must allow mining. Either that, or change the program, Buen Vivir, which he also calls 21st Century Socialism.
The 2008 constitution even used the words “Pacha Mama” — the indigenous Quechua language’s term for the “Earth Mother.” It stipulated that the state “will incentivize” citizens to respect and protect her ecological cycles.
But now, as reported at GlobalPost.com, Correa finds himself accused of hypocrisy as his bid to push through a huge $1.77 billion open-pit copper mine in the Amazon has aroused the wrath of the country’s powerful indigenous minority.
According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE by its Spanish initials), the El Mirador mine, run by Chinese company Ecuacorriente, would lead to the ravaging of around 450,000 acres of spectacularly diverse cloud forest that is the ancestral territory of the Shuar people (ibid).
This is not the first time that Correa has wrangled the wrath of the indigenous who he successfully split in his re-election on February 17, 2013. As I reported at Dailycensored.com back in October of last year, environmental concerns over the “nuevo conquistadores”, the mining industry has been heating up for some time (http://www.dailycensored.com/cotacachi-ecuador-a-new-form-of-democracy-has-been-born-in-this-small-town-in-the-north-of-ecuador-and-the-world-is-beginning-to-find-its-way-here-in-recognition-of-that-fact/).
Resource Wars and the new imperialists
Now, as China emerges as the new world empire its insatiable thirst for resources is now plaguing Ecuador once again.
There is no doubt that investment in public infrastructure is huge, creating public sector jobs, services, schools, roads, hospitals and raising the standard of living for millions.
But Ecuador is now using mining and massive Chinese investment to pay for the country’s 21st Century Socialism (http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2012/03/07/ecuadors-1-7bn-mining-deal-with-china/?Authorised=false#axzz2kSX5d56U). The country has signed a 1.7 billion dollar mining deal with China.
Ecuador has taken a mortgage for the future of its children and the world; for it is the children of today that will suffer the majority of the consequences of mining.
To be fair, Correa begged the developing nations to contribute millions of dollars so he would not have to work with the Chinese and other nations to extract oil and gold and silver and copper. Germany agreed to belly up 36 million but the US oil transnational’s stepped in and made sure no other countries would contribute. The attempt to pass the cup to developing nations so Ecuador would not have to support mining was thwarted.
Once again, the developing countries, and their rapacious corporations failed to protect the environment in favor of their capitalist accumulation processes.
Ecuador is not alone. Bolivia is an extraction country as well. As is Peru (remember the silver mines of old).
Everywhere mining occurs the death of the environment occurs. Beautiful soil turns into sand, gorgeous rivers turn into slurries, and ecology dies. It is biocide.
We are now encased, as a species, in resource wars. Lithium in Bolivia, Gold, copper and petrol in Venezuela and Ecuador. This war of resources for further capitalist, or even Roosevelt like policy developments, is shortsighted and ill informed.
We need to change the way we live. Correa has done wonders for this country and should be applauded. However, assuring that Ecuadorians have plasma TV’s and trucks is not a good policy. Yet, the Buen Vivir is all about not simply bringing people out of poverty and providing decent public services, it is also having the effect of getting I-Phones, big trucks and SUV’s and plasma TV’s in the hands of people who up until recently were so poor they had to walk miles to get services or to work.
Blowback will happen with this policy of mining extraction. Even though Correa has established government mining interests under the canopy of the argument that they are better and safer and sustainable, this is simply not true. The future is now mortgaged to the erratic and irrational human species that cannot seem to live with nature but must conquer it. There is no such thing as sustainable mining. It’s an oxymoron.
One would think that the experience with the ‘Old Conquistadors’ would have left a lesson to be learned. Evidently short term thinking and amnesia rule the day — Ecuador is now seeing the policies of the ‘nuevo conquistadors’. As Mark Twain once said: “History may not repeat itself but it sure does rhyme.”
To read more about the fight of the Shuar people you can go to http://www.dailycensored.com/to-get-the-gold-they-will-have-to-kill-everyone-of-us-ecuador-gives-gold-and-copper-concession-to-china/ and read Alexander Zaitchik’s amazing article on the Shuar people and their fight against mining.
And please, see Beth Wald’s stunning photos of bio rich Ecuador at http://www.bethwaldphotography.com/ecuador2012/content/ecu12_0820shuar_4586_large.html.
A picture of the pink dolphin, now endangered.