In January, members of our research group were actively participating in discussions about intercultural education, politics and activism in two public events organized at the University of Helsinki.
At the Night of Science, the annual block party for science and research, Tuija Veintie and Johanna Hohenthal gave a public talk on intercultural education and the “good life” in the Ecuadorian Amazonia. The talk provided an overview of the intercultural bilingual education in Ecuador and politics of good life (Buen vivir). The former Ecuadorian government promoted the politics of good life, including plurinationality, interculturality and quality education, but at the
same time the education policy reforms led to a decrease in Indigenous self-determination with regard to their educational system, as well as to diminishing number of schools and educational institutes providing instruction in Indigenous languages and respecting Indigenous knowledges and perspectives.
We express our solidarity to all people of Ecuador that are currently suffering for the heavy situation initiated with the package of IMF policies rolled out by Lenin Moreno’s administration. Too many social groups from the low and medium classes will suffer from these policies with further poverty increase, and we understand why they cannot accept them. Unfortunately, the government has not shown any willingness to retract the package and undemocratically, has refused the dialogue with the parties. Instead, the government has responded with the state of exception, after which, the protesters have been met with violent repression and curfew measures. Military forces have entered “peace zones”, targeting especially indigenous protestors. The people of Quito has responded with a night-time cacerolazo (banging pots and pans on the street) as a form of peaceful resistance. The fact that some infiltrated groups have entered in the demonstration to deny its legitimation, cannot be an excuse to devalue this general strike. People ask for social justice. They need more services, no further deprivation and violence!
On Tuesday, 8 October, all schools in Ecuador suspend their classes to guarantee the safety of their students, announced the Ministry of Education of Ecuador. In Pastaza province the classroom doors in schools and at the Amazon State University (UEA) have stayed closed for several days, from Thursday 3 October. Going to classes would be difficult, and possibly dangerous, because transportation in Puyo and around the province is paralysed by roadblocks and demonstrations. The demonstrations started last week after President Lenin Moreno had announced the paquetazo, a package of economic measures to reduce the fiscal deficit of the country.
The paquetazo includes tax and labor reform as well as elimination of fuel subsidies. As an immediate effect of these reforms, the fuel price rose with 100% overnight. Ecuadorian transport unions declared a national strike starting on Thursday, 3 October. The strike ended all bus, truck and taxi transportation in the country. Moreover, the bus, truck and taxi drivers blocked the roads in the main cities of the country stopping all motor traffic. The transport unions ended their strike on Friday 4 October in the evening, but civil society organisations, including the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Confederation of the Ecuadorian Amazonian Indigenous Nationalities (CONFENIAE), and the United Workers Front (FUT) continue demonstrations against paquetazo.
”Piatúa is a secret river. It has power that no other river has. If I am feeling bad, tired or stressed, I go to the Piatúa river and in the river I start feeling good again. The river cures me” says an upper secondary school student in Santa Clara, Ecuador. Our research group is currently conducting research activities in this region and our interviews with and photographs taken by upper secondary school students show the special role that river Piatúa carries for the students as a sacred river and an important place for recreation and social gatherings. For the students, their families and the small-scale farming the river is a necessary source of water. In addition, the river Piatúa brings income to the local people through tourism as the clean water and landscapes attract tourists interested in nature, recreation and water sports.
Clouds have been gathering over future of the crystal-clear waters of river Piatúa. The Piatúa hydroelectric power plant project, run by Genefran S.A., is located in Santa Clara, between the provinces of Napo and Pastaza. Local Kichwa organisation, PONAKICS (Pueblo originario Kichwa de Santa Clara), claims that the power plant project threatens the environment, livelihoods and culture of the Indigenous communities in the Santa Clara area. Furthermore, the power plant project violated the rights of the Santa Clara Kichwa people as the construction work initiated without prior consultation.
Text and photo by Katy Machoa, Amazonian Kichwa, former leader of the CONAIE women
“Your map has no use… We do not recognize the government’s name bloque 22. Our ancestral territory is not an oil block, it’s our life, and these are our words, our crossed spears”
Oswaldo Nenquimo (2019)
The first reaction of the pekenani (wise elder) representatives of 16 Waorani communities of Pastaza, organized in CONCONAWEP, after the sentence of Judge Pilar Araujo of the Provincial Court of Pastaza that accepted the action for protection and stated that constitutional right of prior, free and informed consultation had been violated, was to dance and sing. The audience hall was flooded by the energy of the Waorani voices and by the dance that drew the glorified dignity. So small was the space that shortly the energy spread to the outskirts; surely that energy connected with its territory, as well as with all the hearts defending the Amazonian life.
In the ancestral Kichwa community of Canelos, located in the interior of the Pastaza province, an Educational and Pedagogical Assembly was held in 25-26 September. The assembly was convened by the Council of Kichwa nationality of Pastaza (Pastaza Kikin Kichwa Runakuna PAKIRU) to follow-up the resolutions made in the congress of the Kichwa communities, villages and associations of Pastaza in last August.
by Victor Aurelio Llangari, teachers and parents of the Bilingual Intercultural Unit of San Jacinto
The practices of the peoples and nationalities of the Amazonia are of life. Therefore in 2017, an emphasis was placed on this knowledge in the Educational Institution of San Jacinto together with intercultural processes: First ritual ceremony for planting of Cedar and Guayacan trees in the memory of Dr. Thomas May, a biologist and a professor at the UEA, who came to the Amazonia with an International Cooperation project of German Cooperation Agency. Second ritual ceremony was organized to launch the San Jacinto ecological tourist trail sumakkuskakamay kawsaypacha chakiñan.
In the end of February, we received delightful news from the Academy of Finland. The Academy had decided to fund our project Goal 4+: Including Eco-cultural Pluralism in Quality Education in Ecuadorian Amazonia. This project expands the Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure quality education for all, through an attempt to promote recognition of eco-cultural pluralism and inclusion of indigenous pedagogies as part of quality education in Ecuadorian Amazonia. Continue reading “New research project has started!”