Hundreds of native Ecuadorans began a cross-country march on Thursday to protest policies by President Rafael Correa they say will result in more mining in the Amazon region and threaten the environment and their way of life.
Protests were prompted partly by a recent agreement between Ecuador and China for industrial copper mining in the Amazon’s Ecuacorriente Zamora-Chinchipe region.
The march was organized by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), a powerful umbrella group that represents natives from around the country.
“People are very motivated, there will always be more people in each village,” Zamora-Chinchipe Governor Salvador Quishpe said.
The march began in the Zamora-Chinchipe town of El Pangui, 700km south of Quito.
The natives plan to march over the next weeks through several provinces on their way to the capital Quito, gathering protesters along the way. They plan to reach Quito on March 22.
Protests led by CONAIE, which claims to represent a third of Ecuador’s population of more than 14 million, have already toppled two presidents, Abdala Bucaram in 1997 and Jamil Mahuad in 2000.
The group supported the leftist Correa when he was elected in 2007, but later accused him of abandoning their interests in favor of free-market policies.
Separately, thousands of Correa supporters held a counter-rally in front of the presidential palace in the capital Quito.
Correa has accused CONAIE of trying to destabilize his government. He blasted the start of the march as a “complete failure.”
Correa told the crowd that the marches “up to now have been a resounding failure,” and claimed that the “supposed extreme left” and the “extreme right” have joined forces to destabilize his government.
The president still enjoys popular support for social programs he developed and for renegotiating contracts with multinational oil companies.
CONAIE president Humberto Cholango said that the goal was not to topple Correa, but rather to get him to support laws protecting water resources and to consult native communities over major mining projects.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications