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Barlow signs letter in defence of Fundación Pachamama

Democracy Now reports, “[On December 4], the Ecuadorean government shut down an environmental group that opposed its plans to allow oil drilling in swaths of the Amazon rainforest. The Pachamama [‘Mother Earth’ in the Quechua and Quichua languages] Foundation says police closed the group’s offices last week and presented them with a resolution saying the group was dissolved. The group was one of many protesting plans to drill in Yasuni National Park, an area renowned for its biological diversity.”

The Associated Press adds, “’We consider it an act of violence,’ Pachamama Foundation director Belen Paez said. ‘That is not how one notifies a legally constituted organization that it is being shut down.’ She says the group did nothing illegal and will file suit in Ecuador and an appeal to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights…. ’What angers President Correa is that we are at the front lines in a conflict over this country’s economic development. We oppose the expansion of the frontier of oil exploration into the Amazon,’ said Paez. …The [foundation] opposes the drilling because the government has not sought the approval of natives living in the region.”Map

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has signed an open letter that states, “We agree with Fundación Pachamama’s position that this dissolution is an arbitrary act, looking to repress the organization’s legitimate right to dissent against the national government’s decision to hand over the territories of Amazonian indigenous peoples via concessions to oil companies, without respecting those peoples’ constitutional rights, in particular their right to free, prior, and informed consent, in agreement with international human rights law.”

The letter concludes, “It’s time to reinstate Fundación Pachamama and end the repression against civil society and indigenous peoples in Ecuador.”

There is also an Avaaz petition that you can sign.

The message to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in that petition says, “We urge you to immediately reopen the offices of Fundación Pachamama, an NGO that has been doing important work in Ecuador. For 16 years, Fundación Pachamama has worked in solidarity with indigenous organizations of Ecuador’s Amazon to defend their rights and their homelands. It also works to present a new, sustainable vision for development in Ecuador’s Amazon and the country as a whole. The action to dissolve it is an act to repress Fundación Pachamama’s legitimate right to disagree with the government’s policies. We urge you to reverse your decision immediately.”

Map by Peter and Maria Hoey.