Indian People of the Ecuadorian Amazon March 300 Miles to Demand the Legalization of their Territories

(Ecuador) The Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Pastaza (OPIP) is organizing a march from all Indian communities of the Pastaza Province to the government offices in Quito. More than 2,000 Indians will be marching 20 days, demanding the legalization of the territories they inhabit and that the national constitution be reformed to reflect the plurinational and multicultural reality of Ecuador.

The Achuar, Quichua and Shiwiar people from 148 communities will be arriving on foot April 11 in Puyo, where they will start the steep ascent to the capitol of Quito. The march will last approximately 20 days.

After two and one-half years of fruitless dialogue between the national administration and the Indians, the government refused to legalize the Indian territories and continues to give in to pressure from transnational oil, timber, mining and tourism industries to exploit the Amazon jungle of Pastaza. At the same time, the government has been moving ahead quickly with plans to colonize the region under a project known as "Living Frontiers."

Twenty years of oil exploitation in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon has caused serious ecological and social disasters in that 12 million acre region. Oil companies are now moving into the 5 million acre Central Ecuadorian Amazon region of Pastaza which the Quichua, Shiwiar and Achuar people are defending.

After 500 years of Indian land invasions, the government of Ecuador is not willing to change their course and negotiate fairly with the Native populations. For this reason, the Indians have found it necessary to mobilize in this way. The government plans to attend the "Earth Summit 92" meeting this June in Brazil with "proof" of their commitment to ecological development. Meanwhile, they are imposing land titles with the goal of shattering the territorial and organizational unity of the Native inhabitants.

The members of OPIP claim that global solidarity is absolutely essential for the success of the march. They are asking for support in the following:

1. Send faxes, telegrams and letters expressing your support of the Indigenous people of Pastaza in their demands for the legalization of their territories, that the Ecuadorian constitution be reformed to reflect the plurinational and multicultural reality of Ecuador, and that the participants in the march from Puyo to Pastaza not be obstructed in any way.

Send to: Dr. Rodrigo Borja Cevallos, Presidente de la Republica del Ecuador, Garcia Moreno 1043 y Chile, Quito, Ecuador. Tel: 593-2-515-408, Fax: 593-2-563-469 Dr. Antonio Gagliardo, Ministro de Bienestar Social, Robles 850 y Amazonas, Quito, Ecuador. Tel: 593-2-504-070, Fax: 593-2-563-469

Send copies to OPIP for their work with the press to: OPIP, Centro Cultural Abya-Yala, Avda 12 de Octubre 1430 y Wilson, Casilla 17-12-719, Quito, Ecuador. Tel: 593-2-506-248, Fax: 593-2-506-255

2. Organize solidarity marches and demonstrations in front of Ecuadorian Embassies and consulates world-wide, or in a central location in your town/city between April 11th and the 30th.

3. Call the Ecuadorian embassies and consulates and express your concern for the above demands and the safety of the marchers.

4. Help to raise funds to help cover the expenses of the march. Please send what you can in US dollars to: Antonio Vargas, President of OPIP, Bank of America, Berkeley main #175, Account # 01758-02591, California, USA

Antonio Vargas, Presidente de OPIP, Banco Holandes Unido en Quito, Ecuador, CTA CTE 4046641 USD, 10 de Agosto No. 91 Bancolonda 2153, Casilla 42, 2987 man., Quito, Ecuador, Tel: 593-2-524-200, Fax: 593-2-567-308

5. Stay in contact with OPIP concerning the developments of the march through the following people: Antonio Vargas, Presidente de la OPIP, Centro Cultural Abya-Yala, Avda. 12 de Octubre 1430 y Wilson, Quito, Ecuador, Tel: 593-2-506-248, Fax: 593-2-506-255

Jos Gualinga, 32 Rue Oupny, 4987 Chevron, Belgium, Tel: 32-86-434-162

Froian Viteri, o/ Campomanes No. 13, 2nd, 28013 Madrid, Spain, Tel: 34-1-541-10-71, Fax: 34-1-559-78-97

SAIIC, PO Box 28703, Oakland, CA 94604, Tel: 510-834-4263, Fax: 510-834-4264

RAN, Oil Campaign, 450 Sansome, Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94111, Tel: 415-398-4404, Fax: 415-398-2732

6. ItUs very important to publicize the march as much as possible. OPIP will provide you with photos, articles, and film of the march for publications and television.

7. Document your activities in support of the march with photos, articles, and film and send these to OPIP.

Please use the most rapid form of communication as possible. Thank you.

(Posted in Native-l on March 24, 1992 by SAIIC,