In an unprecedented public dialogue between the Ecuadorian government and the indigenous movement, President Lenin Moreno announced the repeal of Decree 883 Sunday night, ending an eleven-day strike that paralyzed the country and was met with brutal police repression against indigenous peoples. The annulment of the decree, an economic austerity package that cut subsidies and imposed labor reforms, was a central demand of the indigenous movement, along with an end to oil and mining extraction. A United Nations-mediated commission of government and indigenous representatives will work on a new decree to supplant 883.
The agreement, on the eve of Indigenous Peoples Day, is a major triumph for indigenous peoples. With great sacrifice and resilience, Ecuador’s indigenous movement spoke truth to power and would not stand down or give up hope for nearly two weeks despite enduring some of the worst state violence in decades.
The current dialogue between the government and indigenous movement is a historic moment to restore peace. It will be a long road to justice and respect of indigenous rights and territories and a just economic transition away from dependence on the extractive industry, but this is a start. Much of the lasting impact of today’s victory will depend on the details of what new agreement emerges in place of Decree 883. It will also depend on the government’s commitment to the broader agenda of the indigenous movement and accountability for the brutal violence, repression, and rights violations carried out by the state over the last eleven days.
“There must be justice to have peace,” said Leila Salazar-López, Amazon Watch Executive Director. “Ecuador has a new opportunity to truly be a plurinational state that guarantees the economic, social, and cultural rights of indigenous peoples, as established in its constitution, and implement international human rights treaties to which it is signatory and which it willfully ignored during the strike.”
The indigenous uprising of the last eleven days against austerity measures and new oil and mining extraction is a call for a new model of development that supports indigenous-led solutions, life plans, and other visionary concepts guaranteed by their constitution, including the rights of nature and buen vivir (“living well”). This is a moment ripe with possibility for Ecuador finally to move away from pervasive inequality and a toxic, debt-fueled, boom-to-bust oil economy and towards a better future for all Ecuadorians.
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