Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Indian protesters have been demanding that the government of Ecuador abandon its Free Trade Agreement talks with the USA, contending that a trade pact will damage their livelihoods and way of life.

Indians, who make up an estimated 30 percent of Ecuador‘s total population of 13 million, fear a trade deal with the United States will disrupt their agricultural traditions and push them out of their comminutes.

Indians throughout the Andes harvest potatoes, corn and other products for consumption in their hamlets. As part of the communal tradition, surplus harvest is sold in local markets.

"This trade deal will starve us to death," said Maria Sillo, a mother of three who plants vegetables and makes about $15 a week selling her produce in a nearby market is quoted as saying in Australia's Leading The Charge. "We prefer to die fighting this deal than to starve to death," she added.

This is the second week of indigenous mobilizations against the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, which has included marches and road blocks in various provinces.

Despite violent repression by the police forces, the indigenous movement has warned Alredo Palacio, president of that country, that if he persists in signing the FTA there will be a popular uprising.

After centuries of discrimination by an elite, Indians organized to help overthrow President Jamil Mahuad in 2000. The movement has lost some momentum due to internal bickering but is still one of the most powerful voices for indigenous people in the Americas.

The following comes to us from Prensa Latina.

Indigenous Wrath for Ecuador FTA

Quito, Mar 21 (Prensa Latina) Faced with brutal police, the indigenous movement intensified its protests and announced new rallies for Tuesday in Quito and across Ecuador.

Monday, Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) head Luis Macas said that actions against the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US have been boosted because of the Executive´s silence and police violence.

He warned that new communities are joining demonstrations and roadblocks and the electoral date could change if the national mobilization calls for a Constituent Assembly.

Likewise, he denounced that police repression has resulted in 30 wounded people, 100 arrested and 300 others, including minors, with symptoms of asphyxia from the excessive use of tear gases.

In addition, Macas called for the international community´s attention over the escalating crackdown on natives opposing the destructive FTA and favoring expiration of the contract with Oxy US oil company.

Amid this situation, the transport union has been threatening a national strike as 4,000 trucks are stopped due to roadblocks.

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