Ecuador: Indigenous human rights defenders investigated for terrorism after protests
The Ecuadorian government is investigating Marlon Santi (president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONIAE) for alleged sabotage and terrorism in connection with his participation in a protest against government exclusion of Indigenous representatives from a high-level, international meeting about Indigenous issues.
On June 24 and 25, the presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela met in Otavalo to discuss, among other issues, Indigenous affairs, but no Indigenous groups were invited to this meeting of the “Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA).” This omission spurred a protest by thousands of Indigenous people. Increasingly, the Ecuadoran government has been launching investigations and legal actions against NGOs that oppose the government, especially those involved in anti-mining activities. Ecuador’s new mining law now guarantees mining companies protection of their operations; hence these accusations seem to serve to marginalize the voices of Indigenous and campesino organizations.