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Uproar over mining law
1/28/2009
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Indigenous organizations, once allied with Correa, slam president for mining law, alleging favoritism for multinational miners.

Indigenous, campesina and environmental organizations, many once staunch supporters of President Rafael Correa, marched against a recently-approved mining law.

The law was approved on Jan. 12 and ratified on Jan. 26 by the National Assembly, a temporary legislature controlled by Correa´s supporters that is in place until a new Congress is elected later this year.

According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONAIE, the country´s largest umbrella indigenous group, the mining law favors transnational mining companies, saying it permits mineral extraction projects in areas where indigenous communities live. The organization said it is carrying out a “civil disobedience campaign” and that it will not allow these mining countries to go forward on indigenous lands.

The environmental group Acción Ecológica said that mining activity poses a major threat to the environment while failing to provide the Ecuadorian people any benefit.

Correa´s government argues, however, that the law will increase the state´s share of the profits and that it will create a state mining company as well as an environmental supervisor´s office for the sector. It says that environmental protection measures, such as water monitoring, will be strictly observed and that it will create no-mining zones
Indigenous organizations have supported key decisions by the center-leftist Correa, such as the refusal to pay external debt that is considered “illegitimate” and his refusal to renew a 10-year contract allowing the United States to operate counter-drug flights from the Manta airbase that expires this year.

But with the mining law, many accuse Correa of bowing to the desires of the transnationals.

Some analysts say the urgency to approve the law was due to the proximity of the general elections, scheduled for April 26, under the constitution approved in September of last year. Correa is expected to easily win another presidential term in the vote.
–Latinamerica Press.


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