Ecuador became an even more difficult place to be a defender of indigenous rights and the environment in recent days. You would think a country with constitutionally-enshrined protections for Mother Nature would support and encourage indigenous and environmental rights defenders, but sadly that is not the case, and it has implications for the global climate change movement.
On Tuesday, Ecuador’s Environment Ministry announced its intention to shutter Acción Ecológica, the country’s leading grassroots environmental organization and one of the founders of the Keep It In The Ground movement, which has become a global call to support the scientific mandate to keep all remaining fossil fuels in the ground. The government made clear that the move was a direct response to the group’s efforts to raise awareness – like tweeting and posting blogs – about environmental and indigenous rights concerns over a planned copper mega-mine on the lands of the Shuar indigenous people in the southern Ecuadorian Amazon. That very same evening, the national police raided the offices of the Shuar federation, FICSH, and detained its president, Agustín Wachapa, who is still being held.