Here's a notice I just received from the Global Response Environmental Education and Action Network about unfolding events in Ecuador.
Emergency Action: Protect Rights of Anti-Mining Protesters / Ecuador
Indigenous organizations and communities affected by mining launched coordinated protests January 20 in nine out of Ecuador's 24 provinces. The protests are in response to passage of a new mining law that favors multinational mining companies and permits large scale mining.
Indigenous, environmental and health organizations fear that large scale mining will contaminate and dry up water resources, destroy the natural environment and cause human rights abuses.
Call to Action:
Protest leaders are asking international citizens to support them by writing to Ecuador's president Rafael Correa, urging him to guarantee the rights and safety of the protesters, whose numbers are estimated over 10,000 and growing. Please see the press reports below, and send messages to President Correa. Model letters in Spanish and English follow the links.
Articles in English:
Ecuador: Mining Protests Marginalized, But Growing
4 Hurt, 10 Arrested in Ecuador Protests
Latin American Herald Tribune, Jan 21, 2009
MODEL LETTERS in Spanish and English:
Please send copies of your letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Con todo respeto le pido que durante las manifestaciones de esta semana en contra de la mineria a gran escala, favor de defender rigurosamente los derechos humanos de todos los ciudadanos.
Los amantes del medio ambiente, de los derechos humanos y de la paz a traves del mundo esperamos ver que ni la policia ni el ejercito usen fuerza o violencia en contra de los protestantes.
Esperamos que usted tome medidas adecuadas para prevenir cualquier tipo de violencia estatal. De la misma manera, esperamos que los manifestantes se conduzcan pacificamente, como sus lideres les piden.
Ademas, le ruego de modificar la ley de mineria para no permitir la actividad minera de gran escala donde las comunidades afectadas no esten de acuerdo.
I respectfully request that during this week's protests against the new mining law, that you rigorously defend the human rights of all Ecuadorian citizens.
We who care deeply about environmental protection, human rights and peace are hoping to see that neither the police nor the military will use force or violence against the protesters.
I hope that you will take measures to prevent any kind of state violence. At the same time I hope that the protesters also conduct themselves peacefully, in accord with the exhortations of their leaders.
Let me also urge you to modify the Mining Law so that no large scale mining would be permitted unless the affected communities give their prior, informed consent to the project.