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A few days ago, some agreements were known between indigenous organizations and mining companies that occupy the Shuar ancestral territory in the El Cóndor and Kutukú mountain ranges (1). An analysis of the three documents shows us what mining companies are capable of doing to access the minerals found in indigenous territories.
These documents are: a letter of intent for donations from the Lowell company sent to the Shuar community of Yawi, and the agreements between the presidency of the FICSH with the Chinese Explorcobres SA -EXSA- and the Canadian Aurania. The offers made by the companies are an insult and could be a trap for the Shuar people.
The Lowell company, owned by the Canadian Equinox Gold, sent a letter of intent dated May 7, 2017 to the Yawi Community Trustee offering the Yawi community a “donation” of $ 3,319.19 per month . Under the soil of the Warintz mining project, adjacent to the Yawi community, there would be more than 2 million pounds of copper and more than 130 million pounds of molybdenum (2), with the sale of which EquinoxGold would obtain over 2,200 million dollars . Considering this, Lowell's monthly “donation” to the Yawi community is a mockery because the extraction of minerals in that area would imply devastating the land, forests and water, and part of the Shuar territory, which is immeasurable. and to which no price can be put.
The second document is the “Specific cooperation agreement for socialization on development and quality of life in the Shuar communities in the area of influence of the Panantza-San Carlos mining project”. This agreement signed with the president of the FICSH and the Chinese mining company EXSA (3) on May 20, 2018, will be executed in the San Carlos de Limón parish, in Morona Santiago, and is intended to hold workshops on development and quality of life in exchange, a one-time payment from EXSA of $ 93,945.60 (including VAT). According to the agreement, the activities planned under this agreement will be under the supervision of the Corporate Affairs department of the company EXSA, which will approve the contents, programs and also the places where the workshops will take place. Other obligations of the indigenous organization include allowing socializers to stay in the communities for 3 months, and including a socialization workshop on large-scale mining. The FICSH will be obliged to present the lists of participants with their signatures, the memories and photographs of all the workshops. In addition, you will have to give EXSA all the information you require up to 3 years after the agreement ends and it may be used by the company, including as advertising. It is noteworthy that among the termination clauses of the contract -and therefore the possible return of the money by the FICSH- are the actions of environmentalist or indigenous groups and acts that “limit, disturb, suspend or make impossible the normal development of the EXSA's mining activities ”.
It is evident that the company seeks to use this agreement with the FICSH to guarantee a socialization favorable to large-scale mining, such as the Panatza-San Carlos mining project, as well as to be able to access personal data of the inhabitants of San Carlos de Limón, images of their faces, places where they live, and perhaps even identify those who express doubts or rejection. It is surprising that with one of the clauses of this agreement the company intends to stop the access to information by the communities on the environmental impacts of mining, expressions of solidarity on the part of other indigenous organizations, and any claim or protest action .
The Chinese mining company EXSA could be incurring an illegality when negotiating and making decisions bilaterally with the FICSH for activities that are the responsibility of the State, such as participation and consultation processes, a competence that cannot be transferred to any private entity. We must not forget that this area of the Panantza-San Carlos project is Shuar indigenous territory and that the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consultation that seeks the consent of the indigenous communities that will be affected is being violated.
The third document, undated and on FICSH letterhead, is titled: “Interprovincial Federation of Shuar Centers FICSH will soon sign a Cooperation Alliance with Aurania -Aurania renews the complete concession package in Ecuador and participates in convertible debts of USD 2 million with the president ”which refers to the“ Lost Cities - CUTUCU SHIAMI ”Project. The text of this document is a verbatim translation of the Aurania website and at the end is added a paragraph from the company's press release published on April 5, 2018 (4). The Spanish text of this paragraph was shortened after the comma and the name of the company president Keith Barron was omitted, thus reading: “The Company will subscribe an unsecured convertible obligation of US $ 2.0 million with its President and Chief Executive Officer, […] ”. In this way, it is confusing with which president Aurania is going to sign the monetary agreement of two million dollars.
In truth, what the Aurania company wanted to inform with the press release published on its website is that an agreement was reached with ITS president, Keith Barron, to receive a loan of 2 million dollars and be able to keep the 207,000 hectares in his hands awarded by the Ecuadorian government to its subsidiary Ecuasolidus SA Unfortunately, the FICSH could be falling into a deception of the Aurania company since the document analyzed is presented as if it were going to deliver 2 million to the Shuar (5).
In the 2008 report of the United Nations Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, Prof. John Ruggie, it is highlighted that mining exploitation is the sector that causes more complaints and complaints about human rights violations, therefore, we could say that the mining companies are well versed in the violation of rights. After analyzing the three documents, we see that they are also experts in assuming commitments that result in mockery and deception of indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, there are indigenous organizations that are fooled.
Faced with this context, already in 2017 the Government Council of the Shuar Arutam People published an Open Letter for their people, America and the world, in which they explain the reasons why they defend their ancestral territory and do not want mining activities in their territory. , since their existence and that of their future generations depend on it:
“We were never going to imagine that a mining company was going to buy from the State and from a few settlers what belongs to us by ancestry. The government forgets and as it has many means to make itself heard, it imposes its truth. Not only is Nankints in our territory, more than 38 percent of our territory is concessioned to large-scale mining; all the river strips of the Zamora and Santiago basins concessioned to small mining; and a gigantic hydroelectric plant that is about to be built. And our question is where do you want us to go to live?
The IIDS joins the Shuar Aratama People's struggle. We call the attention of the Ecuadorian government to stop the actions of violence against the Shuar Arutama People, investigate the events that occurred against them, stop criminalizing indigenous leaders and their defenders, and respect the self-determination of this people that existed before. that the State was founded.
In recent days, a situation of confrontations has been unleashed within the Shuar People, even going so far as to ignore each other and ask for the removal of the current president of the FICSH. This situation has undoubtedly been stimulated by the interference of mining companies in Shuar territory. A solution to the divisions and problems that occurred would be the immediate exit of the mining companies because they were the real causes of the conflict.
1) All agreements analyzed can be found here
2) https: //www.equinoxgold.com…
3) https: //lahora.com.ec…
4) http://www.aurania.com/… (Page visited on June 24, 2018)
5) A more extensive analysis of this document between FICSH and Aurania can be read here
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