Regarding the Ecuadorian Government’s Move to Close Acción Ecológica
Acción Ecológica denounces the request made by Diego Torres Saldaña, Deputy Minister of Internal Security, to the Minister of Environment to set in motion an administrative procedure that would dissolve our organization on the ground that we have deviated from the aims for which we were constituted.
The Ministry of the Interior claims that this administrative decision (MDI-VSI-2016-00033) was taken because we were alerting the public to "the serious environmental impacts and the ecosystem that would result from the extractive activity" in the Cordillera del Condor – the location of a Chinese mining operation – and to the violation of the rights of indigenous communities living in this area.
Yet these are precisely the objectives at which Acción Ecológica aims. Article 2 of our regulating principles states that our organization exists to “promote the defense of the rights of nature in order to ensure the preservation of a healthy environment and to achieve the right of good living (buen vivir).”
We reject the assertion of the Ministry of the Environment (MDI-CGAJ-2016-261) that we have violated national law. We have been scrupulous in our compliance with the law and our actions are in full harmony with Goal 7.12.b of the National Plan for Good Living 2013-2017, which states that it is a priority "to optimize participatory environmental management and social control for the conservation of terrestrial and marine biodiversity, through processes of community integration that consolidate a culture of peace and sustainability in territories under special arrangements, as well as in the Amazon region", as well as with other articles of the Plan. The position of Acción Ecológica regarding the conflict in the Cordillera del Condor is and has been to request that a Commission of Peace and Harmony with Nature be established. We believe that in order to achieve peace, we need a complete and common understanding about what is actually happening in the territories of the Cordillera.
Acción Ecológica has been closed once before, in 2009, when the government used the same arguments it is using now. However, following clarifications as well as a national and international outcry on the part of thousands of people against the unjust order to close our organization, the issue was resolved in our favour and we were able to reopen. Today we are again receiving messages of solidarity for which we are most grateful, from social organizations, movements, guilds, unions, associations, defenders of human rights, environmental organizations, feminists, and others. It is with this kind of support that we believe we will be able to defeat the arbitrariness and illegitimacy of this new move to close Acción Ecológica. Acción Ecológica has worked to defend nature for 30 years. It is also an integral part of the International Federation for Human Rights (usually known by its French acronym FIDH), as we are convinced that it is only by defending the territories that support the reproduction of life that human rights can be guaranteed.
We will continue to defend the rights of both humans and nature. As the saying goes, "we are like the grass of the páramo that, even when pulled out, returns to grow again.”
Quito, December 20, 2016 Note: Further information can be found at www.accionecologica.org.