The protest is being led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) and the Anti-Mining Front, against the government of Guillermo Lasso regarding Executive Decree 754.
Conaie has called for a national protest on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in response to Executive Decree 754. The decree reforms the regulations of the Organic Environmental Code, particularly in relation to environmental consultation.
The protest will begin in Quito, where a lawsuit will be filed in the Constitutional Court challenging the decree; Conaie says the protest will be replicated in the capitals of the 23 provinces.
Known as the “March for the Delivery of the Mandate on January 12 for the Defense of Life,” the protest aims to express opposition to the militarization of territories with mining concessions. Additionally, the protesters reject Executive Decree 754, signed by President Guillermo Lasso on May 31, 2023, which amends several articles of the regulations for the application of the Organic Code of the Environment.
The amendments primarily affect environmental consultation and citizen participation in areas where studies are planned for non-renewable natural resource concessions.
On June 7th, the President of Conaie, Leonidas Iza, and various activists and residents of mining areas announced their intention to deliver a “mandate” to sectional government authorities, including mayors, prefectures, and parish governments, demanding that they assume control of the territories.
Simultaneously, the march in Quito will proceed to the Constitutional Court, where a claim of unconstitutionality against the presidential executive decree will be presented.
Iza criticized Guillermo Lasso for issuing the decree during the absence of the National Assembly, which was dissolved on May 17th by Lasso’s call for ‘cross death.’
He argued that the President had acted against the Constitution, laws, and international instruments, taking advantage of the situation. According to Iza, the regulation confuses environmental consultation with a free and informed consultation for indigenous peoples and nationalities, as the Constitution mandates that consultation be carried out through a law rather than a regulation.
The activists noted that June marks one year since the 18-day strike in 2022, which led to a national dialogue with the government. Despite the dialogue resulting in an agreement against extractivism, the promise to prepare a bill for prior, free, and informed consultation was not fulfilled. This failure is seen as a breach of the agreement.
In light of the upcoming presidential and assembly elections scheduled for August 20, Iza and Pedro Bermeo, a promoter of a popular consultation to prevent oil extraction in Yasuní ITT Block 43, called on political candidates to stay true to their previous stance against mining. They warned against politicizing the issue and urged candidates to respect the struggles of social leaders who have opposed mining activities.
The decree issued by President Lasso consists of 36 pages and 9 articles, introducing reforms to various aspects of environmental consultation for extractive projects and incorporating transitory provisions.
One such provision stipulates that those projects, works, or activities of medium and high environmental impact registered in the Single Environmental Information System on or before October 11, 2021, must undergo citizen participation processes in accordance with the regulations in effect at the time of registration, to comply with a Constitutional Court ruling.