ECUADOR: Peasants Rebel Against Mining Company

Photo: Peasants in Bolívar province set fire to armored police vehicle and a mining tractor in an effort to prevent mining on their land

By Jakob Stein

Earlier this month, in Telimbela Parish, Bolívar province in central Ecuador, the masses blocked vehicles belonging to the Chinese company, Yankuang Donghua Construction, who entered the area to begin mining.

In order to enter the area of the proposed mine, the company required 300 police, supported by armored vehicles. The action ended with 6 police injured, including a commander of the Bolívar Police, Colonel Marco Ponce. The masses also threw molotov cocktails, burning an armored police vehicle and a tractor belonging to the mining company.

The violent rebellion followed an attempt in Azuay province to hold a referendum on mining. The referendum was ultimately rejected by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court, demonstrating the bankruptcy of parliamentary cretinism. Attempts to channel the righteous anger of the people into dead end bourgeois politics once again shows itself to be a farce, so the masses broke out into open rebellion.

Mining companies funded by imperialists, principally US imperialism but in some cases junior imperialists like China, have become a common enemy of the poor peasants around Latin America, especially Chile, Peru, and Mexico. Their operations not only encroach on the land of poor peasants, displacing them in the process, but also cause terrible environmental damage, polluting water sources and causing mudslides which result in the destruction of people’s homes and in some cases many deaths.

Revolutionary organization Defense Front of the People’s Struggle (FDLP-EC) reported, “While it is true there are peasants detained by the police, the action was a resounding success. First, because it breaks with fear, with inaction, with opportunism and the initiative was taken with the use of violence.” They continue, “the mining company in Bolívar and anywhere in the country is clear that they will not be able to operate with the tranquility they believe they have, that there is no army, police, or repressive apparatus that can neutralize the decision of the poor peasants to rebel.”