Propaganda campaign against Mining Watch Canada
Mining Story 97

Propaganda campaign against Mining Watch Canada

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John Ahni Schertow
October 15, 2007
 

This past June, José Aviles and Rubén Naichap, two Ecuadorian men who claim to be leaders of indigenous organizations in Ecuador, accused Ottawa-based Mining Watch Canada of supporting ‘the Economic, Cultural and Social Genocide of the Shuar people’; and of helping to keep ‘the Indigenous People of the Amazon in Poverty.’

In one of two letters written to Mining Watch, Mr. Naichap also says they “endorsed, promoted, and supported a small group of individuals who marched on the EcuaCorriente camp (December 3, 2006)”, allegedly intent on “burning down [Vancouver-based Corriente Resources’s] exploration camp.”

For my position it’s impossible to verify what happened on December 3, but I read the so-called endorsement. It’s an urgent action notice sent out on December 14 which details the human rights abuses that occurred against the People of Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago, Ecuador, on December 3. Let’s be clear now, Mining Watch didn’t even write it! They relayed the notice on behalf of the Ecumenical Human Rights Commission (CEDHU). Beyond that, they also sent out two other documents involving Corriente Resources in Ecuador; but that’s it.

Mining Watch promptly responded to these allegations:

“[We are] a small organisation dedicated to research and advocacy. Our role, reflected on our web site and in all our published materials, is to ensure that the impacts occasioned by mining can be fully considered by the people who are being affected, and to ensure that policies and practices are adopted by governments and the mining industry to protect the environmental, indigenous rights, workers’ rights, human rights, including economic, social, and cultural rights.

To this end we commonly work with the mining industry and our Government in multi-stakeholder initiatives. We respond to requests from assistance from communities and organisations working with them who are affected by Canadian mining operations to provide independent information and to help them communicate with others in similar situations, find technical assistance, and assert their rights…

…In the case of southern Ecuador, we have provided independent information, otherwise not available in Canada, have given voice to local people who have expressed concerns about the impacts of mining on the forests and ecosystems, and have tried to make sure that the world knows about the conflicts that the proposed mining development has occasioned.”

This is by all means true, but it would seem that it’s just not good enough for Mr. Naichap, the supposed “leader of the Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe;” and José Aviles, the alleged president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE).
Just a few days ago they reiterated their libelous claims at a conference in Ottawa.

Frauds them both
As it turns out, neither Rubén Naichap or José Aviles are leaders of any Indigenous Organization; atleast, not now.

Mr. Aviles was the leader of CONFENIAE in the past, but due to poor and irresponsible conduct, Mr. Aviles was ejected one year ago; and CONFENIAE went on to lawfully elected a new leader, Domingo Ankuash (pictured on the right).

As for the leader of the Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe (FEPNASH-ZCH), that person is Angel Awak, according to the Official website of CONFENIAE.

After Aviles and Naichap began their campaign last Summer, CONFENIAE responded with a statement (pdf), which reads in part:

“The mining and oil companies and others that have invaded our territories in Amazonia have
organized a campaign by a false CONFENIAE, lead by José Aviles, who is sending out communiqués
in the international arena, to confuse public institutions, governments, and international cooperation
organizations about what is happening in the Ecuadorian Amazonia.

The indigenous Mafia lies in the most shameless and condemnable way, usurping the name of the
CONFENIAE and of the Federation Shuar de Zamora Chinchipe FEPNASH-ZCH, presided over by our colleague Ángel Awak. They are not ashamed to send communiqués prepared in the public relations offices of the mining companies, affirming such ridiculous things as that mineral exploitation provides education, hospitals, and culture to our communities. If we have received so many benefits, how is it possible that we live in the situation of misery and abandonment that they themselves recognize in their writings?

They falsify the facts so, that they make our organizations responsible of having attacked and injured
members of the national police, when it was in fact they (the paramilitaries of the mining companies),
who shot at them to avoid having them protect our communities that were recovering their territories. It
is certain that there are military detachments protecting the mining companies, which is a shame for the
country, and demands a firm answer from the government of president Correa. It is not possible that our Armed Forces are being used to defend private interests, which in addition threaten the life and well-being of Ecuadorians.

The CONFENIAE rejects this new manoeuvre of the mining companies and condemns the actions of
this indigenous Mafia that tries to usurp the name of our organization. They were allies of the
government of Lucio Gutiérrez and are it implicated in innumerable cases of corruption that are being
investigated so that those responsible may be sanctioned. Neither money nor the lies and the threats
against the CONFENIAE will be able to stop the struggle of our organizations. We will not stop until all
the mining companies leave our territories.”

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