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Judicialization of human rights and environmental defenders

Judicialization of human rights and environmental defenders

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On September 21, 2023, the manager of the Atico Mining Company, Alain Bureau, sued 10 farmers in the context of the defense of their territories. In February 2024, the group of farmers were prosecuted again by Bureau's lieutenant and employee of the La Plata company, Mrs. Jhoana Zambrano.

Conflicts generated by the company
In the month of July 2023, an illegitimate attempt at environmental consultation was carried out by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, so that the mining company used for this purpose, as private security, the resources and personnel of the army and the national police.
Between March 7 and 10, 2024, paramilitary forces under the name of “Peasant Defense Boards”, an irregular group that, under the command of the controversial Raúl Bayas, gathered more than 100 armed forces in the Palo Quemado parish, boasting heavy caliber weapons including mosberg shotguns, revolvers, submachine guns and 9 mm caliber pistols. In total, nearly two dozen citizens were subjected to irregular inspection and the population opposed to the mining project was intimidated in their own homes.

Situation of current militarization process
On March 18, 2024, 70 community members from the sector, equivalent to 10% of the electoral roll of the Palo Quemado parish, were sued by Raúl Bayas - a native of Tungurahua - who organized a strike force at the service of the Canadian Atico Mining (whose subsidiary is called La Plata). The criminalization of communities opposed to mining projects is a strategy to silence and delegitimize their struggle.



Denouncing peasants as "terrorists" in the midst of the Declaration of Internal Armed Conflict puts the freedom and lives of human rights and nature defenders at risk.

In a premeditated manner from the highest levels of the State, together with the judicialization from the paramilitary leader, on March 18, 2024, the Noboa Government deployed 500 soldiers and police in the territory affected by mining, using the National Police and to the army, as a private guard for the mining companies. Such force is equivalent to one armed man for each voting person in the Palo Quemado parish.

The Noboa government deliberately ordered the mobilization of the military to a parish that has low crime rates, without violent deaths in the territory, abandoning positions in the internal war with the aim of favoring a private mining company. Furthermore, the military
They stay in the facilities of the mining company, demonstrating their bias in favor of the transnational company.

The facts are presented in the context of the supposed “Environmental Consultation” by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition that seeks the entry of the Canadian Atico Mining into the “La Plata” mining concession. The forcible imposition of an environmental consultation is a democratic simulation that lacks legitimacy and transparency.

Public complaint
As CONAIE, the Indigenous and Peasant Movement of Cotopaxi and the National Anti-Mining Front, we denounce that around seventy community members from the Palo Quemado and Las Pampas parish have been denounced as “terrorists” by the Canadian mining company Atico Mining, in complicity with the Government of Daniel Noboa, in a clear example of the injustice that is perpetuated in the name of the capitalist mining model that offers false economic development, based on the exploitation of human beings and nature. The reasons are the following:

1. Environmental consultation has common patterns in the territories where it has been imposed by the Government: the lack of adequate and accessible information, the exclusion of dissident voices, the manipulation of data, police and military repression and the omission of standards international organizations, which turn this process into a mere bureaucratic procedure to justify decisions that have already been made in the offices of the mining companies and the corrupt politicians who support them.

2. We condemn the vile way in which the Government attempts to divert attention from the real crimes committed by companies. Instead of investigating the events caused by the company, the Government persecutes, harasses and criminalizes the communities. We are men and women who defend our right to life, to water, to live in a healthy environment, to work in our agricultural fields and to preserve our ways of life.

3. We urgently call on the Ombudsman's Office as the entity overseeing this serious situation that we are experiencing in the territories. We remind the Government that Ecuador ratified the Escazú Agreement, an instrument that protects nature defenders and non-compliance generates international responsibility. We alert the different human rights organizations in the country and the region about the macabre intentions of the government, which seeks to silence defenders of nature, calling them terrorists to militarize strategic territories for mining exploitation.

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