Ecuadorian government shuts down Fundación Pachamama

December 6, 2013

The Ecuadorian government has dissolved Fundación Pachamama, an environmental non-governmental organization that has worked for 16 years in defense of the human rights of Amazonian indigenous peoples and the natural environment. On December 4th 2013, officials from the Police Administration of Pichincha closed down Fundación Pachamama’s office in Quito. They left a resolution by the Environment Ministry stating that the organization had been dissolved. The government accused Pachamama of political interference and “affecting public peace”.

Fundación Pachamama was created in 1997 by ministerial agreement and has worked since then in the Ecuadorian Amazon with seven indigenous communities to defend their human rights. In 2012, Pachamama and its allies won a court case against the Ecuadorian government by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for violating the land rights of the indigenous people of Sarayaku ten years after an oil company started exploration in their territory. This video (in Spanish) gives an insight into the success of the Sarayaku people.

Fundación Pachamama and the indigenous federations are strongly opposed to drilling in the Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems and home to indigenous people who live in voluntary isolation.  This opposition has caused President Rafael Correa to accuse Pachamama and the environmental platform Yasunidos of “fomenting dissent and violence”. This happened after Chile’s ambassador and a Belorussian businessman were attacked last week during a protest against the opening for tenders for new exploration fields in the Amazon.  

Fundación Pachamama released a statement denying the charges of violence. “We reject violent demonstrations that come from any sector. We neither support nor engage in any violent act”, said Maria Belén Páez, president of the NGO.

Hivos condemns the dissolution of Fundación Pachamama, considering that there was no due legal process before the sudden closure. Hivos believes that there should be a national dialogue on drilling in the Yasuni park. Although indigenous organizations and environmental groups made a plea for a referendum, considering that the park belongs to all citizens, this unfortunately went unheeded by the government. The president argues that income from oil extraction is needed to fund the national budget. Scientists have calculated that the oil reserves in Yasuni will be depleted in twenty years, but the environmental damage and the adverse impact on the way of life of the indigenous people will last forever.

The negative impact of oil extraction and the mining industry in Ecuador has been widely documented. The internationally known Lago Agrio case involving Texaco-Chevron is but one example of the serious problems that oil development has created, including water pollution, soil contamination, deforestation and cultural upheaval.

Civil society demands transparency and respect for international conventions on free, prior and informed consultation. Pachamama has received support from all over the world and petitions have been sent to the UN to condemn the closure.

You can show solidarity with Fundación Pachamama by liking Pachamama on Facebook and following Pachamama on Twitter @FPachamama_Ec

Participate in the Twitter action, using the hashtag #SolidaridadPachamama