International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25th of November reminds about the worldwide problem of gender-based violence. Women and girls are particularly at risk of experiencing violence in times of social and economic crisis. This year, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the health and well-being of people around the world, deepening social and economic inequalities, exacerbating poverty. At the same time, violence against women and girls, and particularly domestic violence, has intensified globally, according to the United Nations (UN, 2020).
Also in Ecuador, domestic violence against women and girls has been increasing during the pandemic. Among others, Indigenous women living in the outskirts of big cities and in rural communities run a particular risk of experiencing violence due to their vulnerable socio-economic situation (Sacha Samay, 2020). Moreover, recent reports bring forward many other forms of violence that Indigenous women experience at the same time when they carry a heavy load of unpaid and unacknowledged care work in their families. In a declaration released in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the women representing the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) highlight the multiple forms of violence that Indigenous and rural women experience:
“as physical and sexual violence that many times ends up in femicide; as economic violence when our work is not valued and we do not have the necessary conditions to make the land produce and to commercialize our products; we live the obstetric violence when the medical system abuses us without understanding on our cosmovision; we live symbolic violence when we are discriminated for being Indigenous, and for living in rural areas; the violence is also present in our territories when invaded by the military forces and when destroyed or contaminated with mining, petroleum, and monoculture farming; we live political violence when we are prevented from holding public positions.” (CONAIE, 2020a. Translation from Spanish by author). Continue reading “Current issues on gender-based violence and discrimination – reports from Ecuador and the world”
Conversation with Dra. Ruth Arias, Rector of the Universidad Estatal Amazonica.
Paola: How is the situation, Ruth?
Ruth: We have been in quarantine since March 17, when the public emergency was declared. I could sense panic in the population from people’s behaviour, as socioeconomic differences are deepened and plenty of defiances is evident; there also are signs of solidarity and reflection. I think Boaventura de Sousa Santos’s writing, “The vulnerable and discriminated against in the South”, and Silvia Ribeiro from the ETC group, have very good analyzes of the situation many are experiencing. Continue reading “Covid-19: its consequences in the Ecuadorian Amazonian Region and the right to education”
Heavy rains increased discharge in the Bobonaza, Pastaza and Arajuno rivers in the Ecuadorian Amazonia, triggering flooding along the rivers. Affected communities include Jatun Molino, Teresa Mama, Chapeton, Montalvo, Wituk, Arajuno, and the most severely affected areas of Sarayaku and Pakayaku.
In the Indigenous Kichwa community of Sarayaku, river flows in the Bobonaza and its tributaries, Kali-Kali and Sarayakillu, rose rapidly on Tuesday, 17th of March, causing serious damage to infrastructure. The community of Sarayaku is in a state of emergency and reports that flooding has damaged people’s homes, schools, the community health center, as well as the main bridges and trails connecting different parts of the community. The airstrip, that connects the community to the nearest towns and hospitals, is shattered. In addition, flooding has damaged fresh water pipelines, crops and livestock. (Consejo de Gobierno de Sarayaku-Tayjasaruta, 18 March 2020).
Situation in the Kichwa community of Pakayaku, also by the Bobonaza river, is equally alarming. According to the confederation of the Indigenous nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazonia (CONFENIAE), in Pakayaku, three bridges were wiped out, dozens of families lost their homes and crops, and the infrastructure that provides fresh water to the community suffered damage. (Comunicación CONFENIAE, 18 March 2020). Continue reading “Flooding emergency in Indigenous communities by the Bobonaza river”
Paola Minoia: “Together with Katy,
I have been interviewed by the Podcast series on Extractivism and Alternatives.” The series is part of different initiatives coordinated within the unit of Development Study of the university of Helsinki, among which the forthcoming Exalt Conference 2020 on “Concurrent crises and sustainable futures: global extractivism and alternatives” in October 2020.
“In this podcast, we talked about the project, how Katy and I met and started our collaboration, and why we think that intercultural knowledge is related to different forms of justice: from epistemic to environmental and territorial. Katy spoke of her lived experiences in the Ecuadorian Amazon and, in particular, of evictions and destruction of villages in the Nankints community due to new mining exploitations.”
The podcast is accessible through this link. There are three versions: one integral version including presentations in Spanish by Katy and translations by Paola, one in Spanish, and one in English only.
“I hope you enjoy this conversation, and please let us know what you think!”
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.