[Translations of two articles from La Prensa of Riobamba, Ecuador, the first, from May 12, based on an Agence France Presse dispatch, the second, from May 13, by La Prensa staff.]
Water war continues in Ecuador
Indigenous demonstrators close Panamerican Highway North
Quito, May 12 – On Tuesday, indigenous people of the province of Imbabura again temporarily blocked the Panamerican highway North in protest of a bill on the management of water that they consider privatizes it.
Police re-opened the roadway without incident, according to authorities.
“We don’t believe what the government is saying,” declared Luis Quilumba, who claims the bill will privatize water, a claim denied by the government, who in turn accuse the indigenous protestors of trying to depose leftist President Rafael Correa.
Protestors claim the bill will result in their losing control of sources of water in their territories and will favor mining and bottling companies.
Leader of the protest met in the headquarters of the Partido Socialista in Quito before meeting privately with Fernando Cordero, head of the legislative assembly, which is controlled by the governing party.
Cordero on Tuesday received the final text of the bill, which will then be submitted for a vote by congress, requiring the support of 63 of the 124 members for approval.
“We are urging them to set a date and time for voting on the water resources bill,” indigenous leader Luis Andrango, delcared, adding that “there is a major war going on over water”…
March held despite surprise ruling
Protest draws less support than expected as debate on bill is postponed
Riobamba, May 13 – The constitutional court yesterday issued a surprise ruling postponing indefinitely a vote on the bill on water being considered by the assembly, a ruling favoring the indigenous movement.
Despite the ruling, some 200 persons held a march in Riobamba.
At press time, it was reported that the Riobamba-Guaranda highway had been blocked with trees in the El Arenal area…
The march called on Monday by social and indigenous organizations of the province to oppose the Water Law bill in the assembly failed to draw the reponse expected by leaders, who accused the government of hindering the groups from organizing and expressing their opinions freely.
Mariana Guamba, president of the Frente Unitaria de Tabajadores [United Workers’ Front] of Chimboarzo, declared that the executive had used laws and decrees to restrict the union’s ability to organize. “Now there are no permits for the workers to get together to march, because of the need for approval. That’s how the government has paved the way for taking away our ability to respond,” she declared…