Tag Archives: ecuador

BREAKING – Murdered before Lima climate protest: Ecuadoran indigenous anti-mining activist José Isidro Tendetza Antún

Photograph: Pete Oxford/Corbis via The Guardian

Photograph: Pete Oxford/Corbis via The Guardian

The killing of José Isidro Tendetza Antún highlights the risks facing environmental activists in Ecuador. Earlier this week, a group of campaigners travelling in a “climate caravan” were stopped six times by police on their way to Lima and eventually had their bus confiscated. The activists said they were held back because president Correa wants to avoid potentially embarrassing protests at the climate conference over his plan to drill for oil in Yasuni, an Amazon reserve and one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

Once lauded for being the first nation to draw up a “green constitution,” enshrining the rights of nature, Ecuador’s environmental reputation has nosedived in recent years as Correa has put more emphasis on exploitation of oil, gas and minerals, partly to pay off debts owed to China.

– Patrick Bond in Durban, South Africa

Ecuador indigenous leader found dead days before planned Lima protest
By  and , The Guardian. 6 December 2014

The body of an indigenous leader who was opposed to a major mining project in Ecuador has been found bound and buried, days before he planned to take his campaign to climate talks in Lima.

The killing highlights the violence and harassment facing environmental activists in Ecuador, following the confiscation earlier this week of a bus carrying climate campaigners who planned to denounce president Rafael Correa at the United Nations conference.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression, UNFCCC

Mother Nature has rights, say speakers

Note: I just returned from a strategy meeting in San Francisco on ways to use the “Rights of Mother Earth” as a tool for advancing justice and opposing false and market-based solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises.  Natalia Greene, of Fundación Pachamama, quoted below, was one of the participants.  While there are a lot of divergent opinions on the best ways to utilize this tool, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, has been using it to marked success in stopping fracking in Pennsylvania.  CELDF assisted the Congress of Ecuador in creating their new constitution, which recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples and Nature, and strips corporations of the rights of personhood.

–Anne Petermann, for the GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from The Saint Albert Gazette, Alberta, Canada, July 30, 2011

Local youth hear about Earth’s legal rights

By Kevin Ma |

In Ecuador, Mother Nature can take you to court.

It’s right in the country’s constitution, says Natalia Greene, who spoke to about 200 local youth at the University of Alberta this week, and it’s one of the many ways that indigenous knowledge can help us protect water.

“Nature is a slave right now,” she says.

While there are laws that ban pollution, those laws all treat nature as an object to be used by people. In 2008, her country became the first in the world to explicitly recognize the rights of nature in its constitution — an idea that came from Ecuador’s indigenous population.

Nature is like a plane, she says, and if we keep taking parts out of it, eventually it will crash.

“We are a part of nature,” she says. “If we don’t respect nature, we’re not respecting our rights.”

Aboriginal lessons

Greene is an environmentalist with the Fundación Pachamama in Ecuador, a group that helped rewrite the country’s constitution in 2008. She was one of many speakers in Edmonton this week to take part in the Global Youth Assembly, a youth conference meant to promote justice and human rights.

Ecuador is home to the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands, Greene says, and puts great value on its biodiversity. Recent deforestation and oil spills have caused the nation to rethink the nature of development.

Ecuador has about 14 different nationalities, many of which have close relations with nature. When Greene and other negotiators spoke to indigenous groups during constitutional talks, they realized that these people viewed nature as a person — a concept foreign to Western law.

“The judicial system we had developed with had forgotten nature,” she says.

Canada’s aboriginals have a similar view of nature, notes Danika Littlechild, a lawyer from the Ermineskin Cree Nation near Hobbema who specializes in water governance. The Cree word for “water” is “nipiy,” which is short for a phrase that means “I am life.”

“When you say ‘water’ in [Cree], you know it is alive,” said Littlechild, who also recalled one meeting where the elders actually brought water from a local water body to act as a representative of nature at the negotiations.

Nature goes to court

Ecuador decided to give nature the highest legal protection possible by putting it in its constitution, Greene says. The constitution makes specific reference to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and says that nature is subject to all the rights outlined in it. It also allows any resident to take the government to court on behalf of nature if he or she feels its rights have not been defended.

The first big test of this law came in the case of the Vilcabamba River last March, Greene says. A company had been building an illegal road by the river for three years, and had dumped so much rock into it that it had actually changed its course, causing floods. When a local group took the government to court over its inaction, the judge ordered the company to get the permits needed for the development and to repair the harm it had done.

The law hasn’t chased investors out of Ecuador, Greene says, as all it does is ask them to develop responsibly. But the government has been backsliding on it lately, as it was seeking mines and oil development for money to fund social programs.

About 100 American communities have now recognized the rights of nature, she notes, including Pittsburgh. She encouraged delegates to lobby their own governments and get the conversation about nature’s rights started.

“We need to have people understand that we are part of nature,” she says.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean