Manuela Picq writes:
If you thought there was anything romantic about environmental activism or indigenous rights, think twice. Socialist ideas about nature – such as keeping water a pubic good – can get you facing charges of sabotage by a leftist government. In the land of the Incas, if you protect the pachamama [“Mother World”], you might just be a “terrorist”.
It’s becoming tricky to identify “terrorists”, at least in Ecuador. They are not members of criminal organisations, they don’t spread fear or target civilians, nor have a politically motivated agenda. According to President Correa, “terrorists” are those opposing Ecuador’s development. So today’s “terrorism” might just look like indigenous peoples peacefully taking over the streets, with their ancestral knowledge and values, to demand environmental and social rights.
In Ecuador, “terrorists” are indigenous peoples from the Amazon and the Andean highlands fighting to preserve access to water in their communities. Old penal codes written in times of dictatorship are being revived by leftist presidents to repress indigenous activists. As “terrorists”, they are labelled as enemies of the state, and arrested – by the very president that claimed leftist credentials and staged his inauguration in overtly ethnic style.
When the Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala gathered delegations from the entire hemisphere in Ecuador last month, the focus was on the criminalisation of environmental protest.