As Ecuador’s National Assembly approved a law for the development of the Amazon region on Tuesday, dozens of Indigenous Amazonian women camp outside the presidential palace demanding a hearing with president Lenin Moreno.
The law is supposed to establish a long list of benefits for the region, the most impoverished in the country, and its inhabitants. Among them the allocation of four percent of the price of every barrel of oil extracted from the region to a regional development fund managed by local governments to improve and expand social services.
Another measure included in the law is reparation for people suffering catastrophic illnesses due to environmental contamination, which consists of an exemption in the payments of taxes, fees for public services, and debt forgiveness.
However, women of the Indigenous Amazonian communities and nationalities arrived in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, to demand an end of mining activities and oil extraction in their region.
"#AmazonianWomen remain in Quito to deliver mandate on extractivism to president @Lenin Moreno," the National Confederation on Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador's Amazon (Confeniae) posted on Twitter.
On Monday they started “camping” in front of Carondelet, the presidential palace, which they say will last until president Moreno agrees to meet with them and receive their mandate. On Tuesday Ecuador's police unsuccessfully attempted to remove them from the public square, but no incidents were reported.
Moreno, who arrived in Ecuador Tuesday after participating in Sebastian Piñera’s swearing-in ceremony in Chile, has not yet announced whether he will meet with the women.
Indigenous leader Patricia Gualinga told EFE the mandate includes other issues such as food sovereignty and intercultural education.
Extractive industries threaten indigenous people's way of life. Two mining concessions in Nankints and Tundayme, in the southern Ecuadorean Amazon, have caused the forceful eviction of entire communities who claim their right over that territory.
President Moreno had also proposed an initiative to protect the Amazon basin but has not committed to annulling mining concessions granted before he came into office. According to the women, the mandate condemns the announcement of a new process of oil allocations in the South Central Amazonian region.
“They haven’t fulfilled the international procedure of Free, Prior and Informed Consultation,” Irene Toqueton, of the Sapara nationality told a local news agency.