Environmentalist=terrorist, Ecuador edition

I have learned three important things about Ecuador in the last day:

-They make a sauce by pureeing a green plantain with peanut butter and spices and then use that on shrimp, stir-fried with chilis and other vegetables. That sounds delicious.

-The national football team needs a bit of work.

-It’s another one of those places where environmentalism is equated with terrorism.

President Correa, a political ally of Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez against North American hegemony, maintains a strong discourse of environmental justice for the Global South. Not only has his administration pioneered international norms by granting new rights to nature in the 2008 Constitution, but it strongly supported the World’s People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held in Bolivia in 2010.

Yet President Correa started using laws codified in the 1920s and 1970s, including the Doctrine of National Security designed by the military dictatorship, to persecute indigenous opposition. He created a state of emergency, calling upon the armed forces to intervene when internal security might be threatened, and he has already shown a willingness to use them.

Interesting commentary.

Update: I don’t know who is right in all this, as Ecuador is a country I follow very little, but regular reader Ricardo posted an unusually long and thoughtful comment here. I just thought it was worth highlighting, as reading his comments offers a lot of potential insight into this article.

Regardless of who is right, I find the overuse of terrorism laws to be an annoying epidemic, and I don’t like seeing President Correa pushing his country into the same rhetorical craphole that Bill Clinton and George Bush opened in the USA.

9 thoughts on “Environmentalist=terrorist, Ecuador edition

  1. boz

    As the article mentions, it was a rather surreal event last year when at an ALBA conference on “indigenous rights,” the government had to block the country’s main indigenous political group from entering the building. At that event, President Correa gave a speech calling them “extremist” and accusing them of being manipulated by “environmental fundamentalists.” The government likes to claim they are pro-indigenous and hate when indigenous groups ruin that image for them.

  2. Kepler

    Well, Setty, I have something against the second statement. I honestly believe Ecuador is in good shape and is almost as good as world champion Brazil. They can’t help it if Venezuela’s team is so good. Things are just like they are.

    I remember that event Boz mentions…it was indeed incredible…the world upside down

  3. La Ley

    Recommended reading: ECOFASCISMO, Las internacionales ecologistas y las soberanías nacionales. Writter: Orduna, Jorge. Buenos Aires: Martinez Roca, 2008. ISBN 978-950-870-111-4

    Can find it in several languages.

    The autor deeply research the case of Ecuador.

    Other issue, call my attention these phrases: “…Proposed legislation to increase jail time for stopping traffic is a direct attempt to disrupt traditional forms of indigenous protest, which often rely on marches and road-blocks…”


    “…Ecuador’s indigenous movement, often described as the strongest in Latin America, has been strongly targeted as the main opposition to Correa’s neoliberal agenda with regards to water…”

    So, the most important social movement in certain country, which usually blocks roads as modus operandi (affecting constitutional right to free movement) cannot be punish and should have impunity for etnic reasons????

    I may see a common denominator:
    – more than two years of international road-blocks between Argentina and Uruguay
    – locals blocking the Peru-Bolivia pass in Puno
    – almost a month of protests and several days blockage in the southern limit between Chile-Argentina
    – increasing complains against Hydro-Aysen in Chile
    -just to name a few….

    All these groups claims their “constitutional” rights at the same time they step on the Constitution Itself! Not that coherent….but very convenient!!!

  4. RR

    This is a message I sent Manuela Picq, the author of terrorism piece.

    Dear Manuela,
    I am very disturbed by your Al Jazeera statements. If true, indeed we have a lot to worry about here.
    You state that the government of Rafael Correa calls anti-privatization movements of indigenous peoples ‘terrorist’. I’d like to know when you heard the president use that label by the criterion that it applies to “those who oppose development”. If you believe this is the criterion the government uses, you should state that, not just state flatly that this is the policy since an uninformed person will think you are stating the obvious or stated policy, when it is not.
    It would also have been very useful to your readers to know that the CONAIE, that organization you rank so high, is allied to the right wing traditional powers that have misgoverned Ecuador for so long, like the Social Cristianos, now Madera de Guerrero, and the Sociedad Patriótica. It would also have been responsible of you to state that the CONAIE supported the attempted coup d’etat of September 2010. They did this as a group, and members individually provided support in the developments. Of particular interest is Lourdes Tibán. If you have any doubts this was a coup, you can see the video footage of police officers shooting at the president, killing his bodyguard, among other things. So much for democracy and anti-neoliberalism, which are the doctrines you say Correa betrayed but imply the CONAIE loyally defend. CONAIE is also an ally of the Movimiento Popular Democrático, which is “left wing” by name, but nothing different from organized crime, including their UNE stronghold, which has deprived this country of an education. You should also indicate how some CONAIE mayors declared themselves “in resistance” and non-recognition of the recent national referendum results just because they do not like the government before you hold them out as bastions of democracy. It would also be interesting to note how some of these indigenous leaders have treated their own inside opposition, including calling them by racist and classist labels (“indio vendido”, “peon”, etc.).
    With regard to natural resources, no country is developing more conservation alternatives and indigenous group recognition than Ecuador. So, I would like to know what your basis for calling this government’s view of natural resources neo-liberal is. Unfortunately for the comfortable preconceptions of people of the developed countries, for once Ecuador will use its natural resources to benefit Ecuador as well, even if it uses the market to do this. However, use of the market is not neoliberal per se. In fact, you betray an ignorance of the content of that term, which implies the opposite of what is going on in Ecuador, which is that the state has a hand in guiding the market to benefit more of the population.
    Your saying that the government has concentrated power, “manipulating” the judiciary, such that it will be even harder to criticize it plays up to traditional fears of lack of freedom of expression in this country, which has no basis in fact other than that media companies have an interest to keep on having all the privileges but no duty to inform us of the democratically relevant facts, even though they say they do inform us. This is called fraud.
    Further, you know that the expressed motivation for intervening in the judiciary is that it does not currently operate for the public good. It is rife with corruption, and dangerous criminals are quickly released onto the people, which only feeds the crime cycles to which we are subject. I hope you have seen the quality of our justices and the institutions in which they operate. If you know Ecuador, you know that there is no public justice here. There private power. For you, however, it is more important to hurt the government and reify certain people based on their race, so the expressed motivation for intervening in the judiciary is ignored to associate the current government to the national security state of the dictatorships, which again falsely gives the impression that people are being subjugated on the basis of those regimes. Unfortunately for the now-quite-old-and-tired accusation of “dictatorship” the changes being made, including those in the judiciary, have respectable democratic credentials.
    To me at least, the amount of misinformation I know you have just produced in such little amount of space, provides a basis for distrust in the rest of your article, which I cannot verify.
    Unfortunately for many of your readers, they have been misinformed.

  5. westslope

    Ah ‘terrorism’. What’s wrong with terrorism? The USA is the single, largest terrorist organization in the world. It has killed more civilians in the past 10 years than any other single organization in the world, taking away that title from Israel.

    Terrorism defeated the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial Army. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was nothing but supportive when the Israelis recently took two conflicts from zero casualties to over a 1,000 dead (mostly cvilians). In one case, cluster bombs were generously distributed over southern Lebananon. In the other case, phosporus was sprinkled over the folks in Gaza. Plus the invasion/attack of Gaza appeared to target civilians. In the interests of “making the desert bloom”, this is all most worthwhile, no? Canada provides settlers for the occupied territories. Shouldn’t the culturally superior be able to use terrorist tactics in order to advance their noble agendas? If Canada backs a terrorist campaign, it must be righteous, no?

    As fully expected, NATO has been targeting Ghaddafi and appears quite willing to kill numerous Libyan civilians in order to get him out. I would probably do the same.

    My grandfather was a capo-terrorist and I am very proud of him.

    What’s wrong with terrorism? When workers bring either 2X4 pieces of wood or baseball bats to picket lines, isn’t that a righteous form of intimidation? Are not Canadian natives justified in setting up armed road blocks, shooting at police officers or setting up armed occupations of private land?

    When enviro-activists spike trees and sabotage equipment, isn’t that righteous?

    1. sapitosetty Post author

      If you weren’t a long-time commenter with a good track record, I’d say you were trolling. I think I hear what you’re saying, but you pick quite a way to say it. Terrorist.

      1. NicaCat56

        Yah. My feelings exactly. Who’s to define the fine line between activist and terrorist? Not me, THAT’S for sure.

        1. westslope

          NicaCat56: It is possible to be an effective non-violent activist. It simply requires greater brain power, sense of purpose, discipline, and a longer planning horizon.

  6. westslope

    Terrorism is a tactic. One that often backfires on those who deploy it. Victims of unsucessful ‘terror’ campaigns range from the USA to the Palestinians to Canadian commercial (sic) fishermen taking US hostages to now unemployed former Canadian unionized mine workers.

    The danger of ‘progressive pretzel logic’ mixed with healthy strawman arguments is the following. The government decries terrorism. Supportive progressives (sic) note the hype and throw the blame back on government. But in reality, the road blocks and other forms of protest are violent. Technically speaking, they do represent a form of terrorism.

    Violent political protests are not always supported by the majority of local community members and often spin out of control of the local community. There is little or no indication that local communities unequivocally benefit from violent protest. There is absolutely no doubt that economies which rely on violence to solve problems suffer.

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